June 30, 2017

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Waffles

If there's one food I love more than donuts, it's waffles. I think my love for waffles is only rivaled by my love for pie. So imagine how happy I was to find a fictional kindred spirit who loves waffles just as much as, or possibly more than, me: Nina Zenik.

Nina brings up waffles in both Six of Crows books, but more so in Crooked Kingdom. So I knew I had the perfect From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen theme, thanks to her. In fact, I made two different types.

Lemon Sour Cream Waffles

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
3 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
zest from 2 lemons*
1 T. lemon juice**
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk

*I left out the zest since we didn't have fresh lemons for some bizarre reason?? You probably could do without the zest if you add extra juice.
**Since I halved the recipe, I only used 1/2 T. lemon juice, and I think it would've actually benefitted from double the lemon juice. So play around with the flavors. :)

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (including the lemon zest). In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add them to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Grease the waffle iron with cooking spray and cook according to manufacturer instructions. (I suggest using a 1/2 cup of batter per waffle.) Serve warm with butter and maple syrup or powdered sugar (or whipped cream).

Dark Chocolate Waffles

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. brown sugar*
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c. oil
1 3/4 c. milk

*I think the waffles needed to be a teeny bit sweeter, so I might suggest adding an 1/8 of a cup of granulated sugar as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center, and add the eggs, oil, and milk. Mix until the batter is well-combined and smooth. Cook according to manufacturer instructions and serve warm with powdered sugar or whipped cream.

I think Nina Zenik would be proud of me.

Have a book/recipe suggestion? Leave it in the comments below! 

June 29, 2017

So You Like... #53

Earlier this year, I shared a bunch of books that are set in the United States. But maybe you're tired of books set in America. Maybe you're looking for books set elsewhere. Well look no further than these recommendations. So you like...




(England and China)

(the Netherlands)



Got any more recommendations for YA books set in other countries? I'm happy to hear them!

June 28, 2017

Reading Challenges Update #2

It's been a while since I told y'all how my reading challenges were going, so I thought I'd check in!

The Rory Gilmore Challenge

So when updating my spreadsheet for this challenge recently, I realized I had read one of the titles in November. Which helps since I don't think I read any books for this challenge in February, March, or April. Oops. 

Actually, I take that back. Thanks to my Shakespeare class, I read Henry IV, Part I from February 25 to March 1. And now that I own The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, I should be able to knock the rest of the Shakespearean plays off the challenge list (the ones I hadn't already read prior to this challenge, at least).

Anyways, in May I read Jane Eyre, which I'd bought the Word Cloud Classics edition of way back in December.
At the beginning of June, I read two Nora Ephron memoirs, one of which is referenced in A Year in the Life, with the other being displayed on Lorelai's nightstand during "Fall." I didn't like the first one, but I did like the second one okay, and I can see why a friend who read it last fall for an assignment in our creative nonfiction class enjoyed it.

There are so.many. books in this challenge that it's hard to know where to start. Going alphabetically seems lame, so I'm trying to start with the ones that spark my interest the most. I think I'd be more motivated to read for this challenge (and the other one) if I actually put the books on my Goodreads TBR list, but it's already so long that I feel guilty whenever it grows bigger and I don't take anything off of it. So we'll see...

Anyways, I've now read 34 books out of 229 (and that counts the A Year in a Life referenced books), so I'd say that's fair progress, considering it's only 15% of the total challenge.

The Newbery Challenge

Like my Rory Gilmore challenge, this one sort of fell by the wayside, thanks to the challenges of spring semester. I did read The Westing Game in February, though, so I only slacked off March through May.

But! On the very first day of June, I read Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright. I didn't really like it, and I don't think I would've enjoyed it when I was younger either, but at least it was a short book. A few days later, I read A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck, which was all right. I'm feeling a bit disappointed that I'm not enjoying more Newbery winners. There has to be a reason they won, right?

Total, I've read 20 out of 35 books, or 57%. So I'd say I'm doing pretty well with this challenge, even if I did fall behind.

June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017 Thus Far

Just like last year, I haven't had a ton of favorite reads yet (which makes me pretty sad), but here's hoping 2017 picks up and I find lots of new favorites.

Also, side note: I acknowledge that some of my favorites were published before 2017, but I would've had to make the post title super long and complicated to reflect that. 

1. Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

2. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

3. The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

4. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

5. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

6. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

7. Wish by Barbara O'Connor

8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

9. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
(Y'all, I liked a Sarah Dessen book. It's a freaking miracle.)

10. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Sorry-not-sorry for how many are contemporary. Sad that there's not really any historical fiction. (The Ship Beyond Time sort of is, but only because it's time travel.)

June 25, 2017

Rewind & Review #88

~I caught a cold, and I was in denial for DAYS, convinced it was just allergies.
~I got another bookcase! Hoorah for more space for my books. Except I don't have room for any more bookcases after this, so if I run out of room, I think I'll have to start getting floating shelves.
~I may have started planning which French editions of my favorite books I'd like to get, should the bookstores in Quebec have them. (I'm praying they have at least a few.)
~My mom and I saw Much Ado About Nothing at the American Shakespeare Center today. Super fun; I love how they staged it.

Books I Received for Review
The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian (ARC passed on by Dahlia Adler)
This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes (ARC from the author)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Lucky in Love by Kasie West (won from @cassieopiabooks on Instagram)
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (from my Secret Sister)

Books I Bought
Salty Kisses by Robin Jones Gunn
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Books I Read
The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye (4 stars)
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (3 stars)
A Million Junes by Emily Henry (4 stars)
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (reread)
Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (5 stars)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (reread)
Salty Kisses by Robin Jones Gunn (3 stars)
Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan (3 stars)
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (reread)
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman (3 stars)
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4 stars)
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4 stars)
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (reread)
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 6/12-6/17)
   (from 6/18-6/24)

June 24, 2017

Burn, Rewrite, or Reread Tag

No idea who started this tag (if someone knows, comment and let me know and I'll edit this intro), but it sounded like painful fun.

So, if you don't know what this book tag is, you are given three books. You must choose one and only one for each option: burn, rewrite, or reread. 

I had my mom choose at random four stacks of three books from my main bookshelves (the ones with all YA) and here are the results...

Group #1:

Burn: This was a hard choice, but I'm going with Wildflower. It's a fairly good book, but I'd rather keep the others around.
Rewrite: Hello, I Love You has a few flaws, so I'd iron those out and then keep rereading it to my heart's content.
Reread: The Winner's Curse. I love this entire trilogy, and I'm actually planning to reread it this summer.

Group #2: 

Burn: Probably Going Vintage. Sorry to Lindsey but the main character started to grate on my nerves during my last reread.
Rewrite: This was actually a toss-up between the two books left, but I'd actually rewrite Anna and the French Kiss, just to take out the cheating bits and chunks of the Ellie sub-plot because that just dragged.
Reread: That leaves Better off Friends, which is a solid book. It really needs less rewriting than Anna, which is why it won out for this option.

Group #3: 

Ack, this is a really tough one.

Burn: All Fall Down. Unfortunately, I love the other books just a little more, and Embassy Row is, sadly, Ally's weakest series.
Rewrite: Heir of Fire. Just to fix Rowan's abusiveness and also eliminate any potential of him becoming a love interest. (Sorrynotsorry.)
Reread: Open Road Summer. While Emery's debut isn't as perfect as The Start of Me and You or The Names They Gave Us, it's pretty darn good. I don't think I'd change anything about it.

Group #4:

Burn: A Thousand Pieces of You. Upon my recent reread of the trilogy, this first book drags the most (surprisingly).
Rewrite: The Raven King. Just to get rid of all the parts that lean towards horror, and also I think I'd change the majority of the climax/ending just a bit. Fan theories honestly overhyped what might happen in TRK, so I expected more than we got. 
Reread: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. By process of elimination, although I think I'd put it under a minimal rewrite.

Okay, I kind of want to do this tag again, so we'll see what happens, haha. I'm actually surprised my mom didn't pick any historical fiction books, although my love for contemporary fiction is well-represented. What would you have done in these scenarios?

June 23, 2017

Random Friday: Book Covers

Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
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I really love that there are so many different styles of book covers these days. There's illustrated, photographed, simple typography, graphically-designed...

Lately, I tend to favor illustrated or graphically-designed covers. Photographed covers seem to be going out of style for YA anyway. There's still some good ones...

30312860 30285562

...but I think the market got swamped with too many photographed covers of Straight White couples looking cutesy, and someone said enough was enough.

I've noticed a lot of the covers I favor have a fair amount of color to them... 

33275690 22501055

Oh, and just because I like a cover doesn't mean I like the book. (But the reverse is true too, even if I don't like the cover, I may like a book, although I'm more likely to like or feel neutral towards a cover if I liked the book.)

In general, though, I think I'm pretty neutral towards most book covers. They won't necessarily make me pick up a book I wasn't already interested in; they won't make me take a book off my TBR list (unless, like, the cover reveals how racist/bigoted the book actually is).

What makes you like a book cover? Do book covers change your opinion of certain books?

June 21, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Grade: B
Release date: June 27, 2017
An ARC was provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

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.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Can Mackenzi Lee always write historical fiction? Please and thank you.
I've been following Mackenzi since her debut with This Monstrous Thing in 2015 - a book that was a bit too science fiction for my tastes. So I had much higher hopes for The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, a book she's been pitching as "Blank Space" meets "Chandelier" in the 1700s since 2015. (Don't believe me? Here's the tweet to prove it.) The Taylor Swift comparison had me sold instantly, plus I loved the concept of using a Grand Tour as a framing device. (Why don't we get to have Grand Tours anymore?)
I love how the trio each had something different to contribute, and especially because Monty had a lot to learn. He had to grow up in a lot of ways, but he also had his privilege checked in some marvelous ways. (Ways that may have been a tad modern, but I'll accept it.) I also loved just how much research Mackenzi put into this book. I got to explore Europe in ways other historical fiction novels I've read haven't.
One quibble I had is that pretty much every adult character wasn't a great person; they were either villains or got in the way of Monty's fun, and I feel like YA adults are like that too much. Even if teenagers think they're a pain, it isn't always true. I also thought the beginning dragged just a little too much before the big adventure started.
Obviously the level of sexual content and drinking isn't my thing, and since that's a large part of Monty's character, it did get to be a bit too much at times.

The Verdict: Pretty good. Surprisingly long.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Maybe.

June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Need to Keep Reading

Technically today's topic is "series I need to start," but I actually have fewer series to start than ones I need to keep reading/finish so...

1. The Falconer trilogy by Elizabeth May
I read book one when it first came out in the U.S., and I meant to read book two last summer, but it never happened. Considering the third book came out last week, I really ought to continue/finish this series.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I read the first book ages ago, of course, and I've read Anne of Avonlea, but I need to read the remaining four books that are counted as the main ones (based on the order in which they were written). I'm kind of holding out until I own them with the covers I like best (seen above), though...

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
So I'm gonna share a secret with y'all... I've actually only read Rose Under Fire. I know I started CNV when I first starting getting into YA books, but I remember it having more foul language than I could tolerate in books at that point. But now that The Pearl Thief is out and I put that on my TBR list, I really should read CNV first, shouldn't I?

4. The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
One of my best friends is writing a YA dragon story, and someone told her she should read A Natural History of Dragons. I saw her carrying it around campus and decided I had to read it too. I read books 2-4 last month, but I still need to get to book 5.

5. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Okay, so book three isn't out yet, but I still need to read book two. *glares at library for not having a copy*

6. RSVP duology by Jen Malone and Gail Nall
As far as I know, this is only going to be a duology but I still need to read book two. Once again, I blame the library for this, though.

7. Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens
This is due in part to the fact that it's a U.K. series, and so I have to wait for the U.S. editions to release; the first three books have, but books four and five released in the U.K. last year, and the U.S. publisher has yet to release either. (Although book four has a publication date set next April...)

8. The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
On a whim, I bought The Thief at Barnes & Noble towards the end of May, after noticing several bloggers rave about it for years. I found it to be quite satisfactory, so now I need to continue the series, particularly since I've finished a bunch of books for review.

What series do you need to start/continue/finish?