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Links to Love

April showers bring May flowers – or at least, here’s hoping! April is finally coming to a close, and I have to say, about time. This month has been dragging too long, and bringing a little too much chaos in its wake. Thank goodness for entertaining posts and delicious recipes to carry us through it all. 🙂

The Perfect Dress For Spring

It’s been a while since I’ve busted out my sewing machine, but this pattern, by Merrick’s Art, is too cute to pass up! I love the lemon print she chose, but you can just as easily skip the hand painting for a floral design.

Why Do Cats Love Bookstores?

This delightful ode to bookstore cats really made my day! The article was posted by one of my new favorites, Literary Hub – a great source for literary culture, news and “richness of contemporary literary life”. Sold!

A Little Free Library

Did you know this existed? I know I’m pretty late to the game, but it was so exciting to discover multiple Little Free Libraries in my own neighborhood! Making a stressful day so, so much better.

Blueberry Margaritas

It’s getting hot here in Texas, and there’s nothing better than an ice cold cocktail to cool you down – especially if it’s a margarita! I found this recipe on Pinterest, but being a lazy bartender, there’s always an easier way: replace the water/lime juice combo for 1 cup Simply Limeade and the blueberry simple syrup/blueberries for 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, 2 tbs water, 1 tbs sugar (blend mixture), add your favorite tequila and orange liquor, ice, and shake!

Broccoli Cheese Chowder

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a little obsessed with broccoli cheese soup. I’m always looking for a new recipe or a new twist, and this time, I finally hit jack pot. I’ve tried out several chowder recipes over the years, but this one definitely turned out the best! And it has plenty of cheese to cure your rainy day blues. 🙂

Stuff You Missed in History Class

My favorite podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class, put out some great episodes this month! Check out their shows on the history of pizza and white weddings.

Youtube

This week I rashly decided to shorten my long locks in prep for summer. Plus, I was getting a little too lazy to keep up with it. So, what to do when you need some style advice? Youtube, of course! Looking for some styling videos I stumbled upon this one by Dominique Sanchse, a Houston news anchor. I had no idea she was a Youtuber!

What were your favorite finds in April?

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Weekly Reads: Week 16

Happy Wednesday! The weekend’s almost here again!

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Last week was both daunting and exhilarating, between the flood and the readathon, I’m exhausted! After the readathon, I thought for sure I’d want a break from reading, but surprisingly not – I’ve been a reading fiend this week. Look out for more reviews on Monday! Currently, I’m reading Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye and finishing up the audio version of Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, what a page-turner.

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The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe

The narrator, a young rabbit named William, is the protégé of his Grandmother Lavender, the beloved yet cratchity, and unofficial, sage of Waterloo. From their home, a farm in the middle of the historic battlefield, she teaches William how to read the ether, for great and terrible acts always leave a trace on the land, an impression all animals can feel even if they can’t yet read it. Filled with interesting tid-bits and battle details, amidst the everyday and surprisingly dramatic lives of the rabbits, Francombe’s novel is nothing short of a piece of art.

“A place of great conflict should bring on great reflection. If it doesn’t, all might as well happen in vain.”

“Life cannot be lived secondhand, William…No one can truly describe a dandelion, you must experience one yourself – even if it means taking a risk. And you can’t say you’ve really lived until you’ve taken at least one risk. Can you?”

Between their quirky mannerisms and mental exercises, William’s family is entertaining to say the least. Grandmother Lavender is constantly drilling him and his siblings to recite the facts of the battle, as well as their means of survival should they find themselves locked out of the hutch at night!  Her lessons easily make the novel one of the most quotable book I’ve ever read – stopping almost every other page in some chapters to take down a note. And if I wasn’t writing notes, I was thinking. The simplified tale has a way of weaving together incredibly complicated matters that surge the reader down a rabbit hole of deep reflection. What is the meaning of war? Why is it necessary? Can we avoid it? You can almost say I followed the white rabbit to Wonderland!

Rating: 4 Stars Continue reading

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Top Ten Bookish Delights

Today’s Top Ten topic is your Top Ten Bookish Delights. For me, it’s typically a moment and not so much a thing. I could easily list a thousand more of these, but for curtness I’ll try to stick to ten. This is a link up with The Broke and the Bookish.

If I had to list my Top Ten Bookish Delights, this would be it:

  1. When you’re searching for a popular audiobook on Overdrive, place a hold, and wow! I’m only 1st or 2nd in line!!!!
  2. Finding an entire treasure trove of titles from your TBR in the clearance section – could there be anything better? I think not.
  3. When a hold becomes available at the library….and suddenly there are 5 (or 10) more to pick-up. I know we all complain about this when it happens, but I secretly love it. I have ALL the books! What could be bad about that?
  4. Spending the day, or hour, cocooned in your favorite fleece blanket with a candle burning and the sun shining and a good book. This is my happy place. 🙂
  5. When you’re reading and your boyfriend, who is jealous of your book, brings you a fresh cup of coffee…with all the fixings.
  6. When you’re reading the right book at the right time in your life. You need inspiration or a laugh or a distraction, and you might not even have realized it when you started reading, but you couldn’t have picked a better book for that moment. I think this is the real reason YA is such an amazing genre – there’s always a relatable theme or struggle and when the hero wins the day, so do we.
  7. Rereading a book from your childhood or college days and taking away an entirely new meaning from it. Perhaps it was a theme that you just hadn’t experienced in life yet, or you relate to a character more than before, or maybe it brings you hope when before it was just a story. You might not be able to read a book for the first time again, but you can always have a new experience when rereading.
  8. Rereading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and having the above happen to you.
  9. Talking about books – whether it’s blogging, commenting, in person with friends, or finding a common book with a stranger, getting recommendations, a heated discussion on themes… Any day I can spend time talking about books is a good day.
  10. Finding a new favorite. A novel so beautiful it can only be described as a gift to read and reread. It’s not every year I add a novel of this grandeur to my lists, but when it happens, it’s pure bliss.

What are your top Bookish Delights?

Flower vector designed by Freepik

 

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Readathon Wrap-Up

This past weekend was one of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in quite a while. To spend so many hours reading, guilt free and undisturbed, was truly a gift, a much needed R&R break from the usual business and chores, and I got a LOT of reading done. Things are still a little sluggish around here, so my usual Weekly Reads will be a bit late this week (plus it has almost double the books!).

I didn’t make it to the end of the 24 hours, but I surprisingly did make it to 2 AM – just 5 hours shy! I just had to finish Above the Waterfall – not exactly a page-turner, but what an amazing cast of characters.

Also, a tip for all readathoners: snacks are definitely the key to a happy and long readathon. While the puppy chow and popcorn were a little messy, it was the best thing to ever happen when I hit 2 PM and lost my steam. And the Strawberry Salty Dog – it’s a no brainer! Delicious and refreshing. 🙂

Current Stats:

New Books Started: 3

Books in Progress: 5

Books Completed: 4

Page Updates:

The Sage of Waterloo: 221 pages – Complete

Station Eleven: 333 pages – Complete

The Danish Girl: 336 pages – Complete

Above the Waterfall: 252 pages – Complete

Jane Steele: 142/432 pages – In Progress

Total Pages: 873!

End of Event Survey:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Probably the last hour and a half – it went by sooo slowly and I thought I’d never finish, but I had to know the end of the story!

  1. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Station Eleven and Above the Waterfall were the most attention grabbing books I could have chosen. They are perfect picks for a readathon! I’d recommend Jane Steele, but I think it’s a little too long compared to the others.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

For a first timer, it was a little daunting to join in on all the social media happenings and read at the same time. I like the various options of joining in, but I think I should have picked one platform and stuck to it only – switching from Goodreads to Facebook to Twitter to a few blogs was a bit much.

  1. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

I really enjoyed the readathon’s momentum. Everyone was pumped well before the start date and I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s TBR lists and snack prepping beforehand. It made it super exciting – and the fact that it kept going throughout the readathon was awesome!

  1. How many books did you read?

I read 5 books and finished 4 of them.

  1. What were the names of the books you read?

Listed above.

  1. Which book did you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed The Sage of Waterloo. It’s definitely not a great choice for a readathon though – it’s extremely quote worthy I have to stop and write one down every other page, and I couldn’t help but find myself swept up by the characters and surged into a well of deep reflection….but man, it’s an amazing and thought provoking piece of art. I loved every minute of it!

  1. Which did you enjoy least?

The Danish Girl. While I did enjoy this novel, it just wasn’t on the same level as the others I read that day. The characters didn’t grow as much as I expected them too and the ending was completely lack-luster. It just ends. And while I can probably guess at what happens next for each of the characters, I wanted more of a conclusion at the end. Also, I found it extremely unlikely that Lili didn’t experience any backlash for being transgender. She was always expecting the worst reaction, but never actually received one in the novel’s entirety. So to me, it felt like an entire piece of the story was missing.

  1. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely be participating in another readathon. I don’t know if I could really take on more than I did this time, so it might be a few goings until I sign up to cheerlead or anything else. But I would hope to participate more in the mini challenges next go around.

How was your readathon? What did you learn? What was your favorite read of the day?

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Mid-Day Update

It’s mid-day here in Houston and the readathon is in full swing. This morning was a slow start for me – distracted by social media and blog posts and my roomie’s pup, she’s really too cute for her own good. Now I’ve taken my cooking break and nearly finished with The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff. I’ll probably switch from the audiobook to my Kindle version to finish it out. It’s been a great day so far!

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Current Stats:

New Books Started: 1

Books in Progress: 3

Books Completed: 0

Page Updates:

The Sage of Waterloo: 85/221 pages

Station Eleven: 269/333 pages

The Danish Girl: 69% complete

Total Pages Today: 122

How is your day going? Reading updates?

 

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Readathon: First Book of the Day

Starting bright and early today! Currently reading The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe, about the battle of Waterloo seen through the eyes of farm rabbits.

Opening Meme:

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

This morning I’ll be traveling to Belgium, or more specifically a farmhouse at the site of the battle of Waterloo, all from the comfort of my living room in Houston, Texas.

  1. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – I’ve been saving both for today!

  1. Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Puppy Chow. I made it a couple days ago and have actually managed to not eat it all already.

  1. Tell us a little something about yourself!

I can’t read when it’s quiet! Right now, I have Pride and Prejudice on in the background. 🙂

  1. What are you most looking forward to?

As this is my first readathon, I’m looking forward to challenging myself and meeting all the other readers!

What are you reading?

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My First Readathon!

This Saturday is the spring 2016 Dewey’s Readathon. I’ve never attempted a readathon before, and I couldn’t be more excited! So far, I’ve joined the Facebook and Goodreads group and it looks like there’s even more action on Twitter. And after checking out everyone’s picks for the readathon, I’ve finally gathered my own.

If you’d like to join the fun, you can still sign up here!

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First Up, The Books:

I have a great selection of books for Saturday – I was really lucky with my library holds! I also have 2 books I own thrown into the mix. The other day I noticed I’ve only read 8 of my own books this year and the rest have been from the library. Hopefully a day of reading will knockout most of my library books and I can start reading from my own shelves a little more!

Here are my picks for the readathon:

My plan is to start the day with The Sage of Waterloo, a tale of rabbits and the effects of war, but mainly about rabbits. Sounds like a good pick for morning-time. From there I’ll finish some of my books in progress (Station Eleven and The Danish Girl) and move on to some more picks from my stack. Then in the afternoon I’ll work my way to Me Before You or Jane Steele. It’s really hard to decide which is a better fit for cocktail hour: romance or mystery? I guess I’ll have to see where the mood takes me!

I’m definitely not expecting to read for all 24 hours. I think it would be a little naive if I did. Instead, I’m hoping to read a solid 8 hours, enough to finish 2 to 3 new books. But if I feel up to it, I could finish all 7 books in the 24 hour time-span at a rate of 102.5 pages per hour.

Now, The Food:

For any kind of marathon, meals are key to sustaining energy throughout. Here’s what I’ll be eating throughout the day:

  • Need This in Your Life “Best Chicken Stew” from Hip Foodie Mom – I’ve been wanting to make this for so long! I’m hardly ever just home all day on the weekend so this is really the perfect time for a crock pot recipe.
  • Puppy Chow! What can I say, you can take the girl out of Indiana, but you can’t take the Indiana out of the girl. It’s a classic, and can’t be beat.
  • Random snacks: white cheddar Skinny Pop and pretzels.
  • Cocktail Hour: Shiner Ruby Red and a classic Salty Dog. Or I might get real fancy and try out this strawberry version! Can you tell I like grapefruit?

Everything Else:

The rest of my prepping has mainly been digging out my fuzzy socks and lining up a few candles to alternate throughout the day. I really like Target’s Sweet Spun Sugar and Bath and Body Works’ Pink Peony.

And last, but not least, stocking up on cat nip. Can’t forget your furry friends!

What will you be reading? Any tips for a first timer?