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Bout of Books mini challenge: relocate!

Aug
14

80 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Bout of Books challenge is all about relocating.

 

I’m currently finishing up The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa, a story that takes place primarily in the mythical locations of the Nevernever, where all the fey and other mythical creatures reside.

….But not anymore!

Because I am officially relocating this cast to the Andes mountain range. And you know what that means. High altitudes. Cold temperatures. Uneven, thrilling landscapes. And snow!

How are these characters going to fare? Well, I think a lot less easier than they have it now. (Except maybe for the Winter Court. Watch your back.) I know the Iron Fey books tend to already be action-packed, but I think this relocation would only add to the suspense and drama. The Courts would be more chaotic than ever. Situations would be dire; there wouldn’t be nearly as much time to waste.

And really… who wouldn’t want to see Grimalkin have to traipse through the snow/cold? Plus, I sense the oncoming of an epic Ash/Puck snowball fight.

 

What book are you reading, where does it take place, and where is it going to relocate?

Leave a link or leave a comment!

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photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: cooking tips

Cooking tips don’t always pertain to the actual cooking of things. Sometimes tips are also essential for prep work. Here are two quick tips to make your cooking experiences just a little bit better.

 

ONION WOES

Ever go to cut an onion, only to be reduced to tears and burning eyes? (It’s all right. It happens to all of us.)

Did you know there’s a way to prevent that, though? That’s right. You don’t have to cry!

Here’s what you can do:

1. Put the onion in the fridge or freezer at least 20-30 minutes before planning to cut it.

2. Quickly rinse the onion (peeled) in water, then chop.

 

SMELLY HANDS

Garlic is amazing, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to smell like it for quite some time.

Here’s how to get the potent smell off your hands:

1. After chopping the garlic, rub your hands on a stainless steel utensil.

2. After chopping the garlic, wash your hands with lemon soap or lemon juice.

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What did I miss? {8/5 – 8/12}

Aug
12

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

Midway Musings {1} — A new feature to highlight my thoughts midway through my current reads.

How to prep for a read-a-thon — I think this title speaks for itself.

A writing dilemma — How I feel about writing.

Whip it Up Mondays — homemade veggie burgers.

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I feel like the blogosphere got sucked into a vacuum without me knowing. Seriously. Where is everybody?

This week was horrible, as far as blogging goes. Barely read any posts, barely commented, barely tweeted, barely ANYTHING-ed. Likewise, there was barely any traffic coming through. I felt like I was a newbie blogger again, trying to get people to come check out my site. It was a bit….discouraging. It still is. These sorts of weeks are the toughest to get through.

In other news, I’m pretending school doesn’t exist and summer vacation doesn’t end.

Get your objectivity out of my reviews — Amanda discusses the differences between objectivity and subjectivity in reviewing.

What makes a good comment? — Anne talks about how commenting isn’t always easy.

Travel Tales — Elena lists the five places she’d like to visit in the world of Harry Potter.

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[To preface this post: Midway Musings is a new feature at The Grammarian’s Reviews in which I discuss my thoughts of what I’m currently reading and am around midway through.]

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.

397 pages | To be released: October 23, 2012 | Harlequin Teen

 

My midway thoughts:

I was recently approved on NetGalley to read The Lost Prince, and when I first downloaded it, I expected to be finished with it in three hours – tops. And yet here I am, barely halfway through.

So what happened?

Ethan Chase happened. Ethan is one tough cookie. Maybe too  tough, because I’m having the hardest time with his narration. I want to shake him! I want to pull him aside, shake him, and tell him it’s okay to not  be angsty all  of the time. I understand he’s a teenager. And I understand teenagers are angsty. But how many times must I read about how he’s upset that he thinks he’s ruined everyone’s lives?

At times I understand why he feels the way he feels, but at other times I’m at a loss. I’m hoping there’s some real change for him in the near future. Right now repetition is my worst enemy – from Ethan’s flip-flopping to Kenzie’s incessant “tough guy” name calling to the fey’s repeated warnings. To that list, I say, I get it. Please, let’s move on.

I think at this point it’s safe to say that I’m still acclimating to this story, which I’m dubbing “Meghan’s future.” It’s still strange to not have her around, and for Ethan to not be a toddler. Maybe if I can break free of the old mindset, The Lost Prince will shape up.

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How to prep for a read-a-thon.

Aug
09

19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

With the start of Bout of Books 5.0 just around the corner, I figured this would be entirely appropriate. Especially because I’m horrible at read-a-thon prepping. (Procrastinator alert!)

 

 

 

1. Wake up early. Or late, depending on how you want to tackle this. I prefer to wake up early in order to start early. But I have known some to sleep late and start in the afternoon/evening.

2. Set aside a few hours of time, even if you have to do it in shifts. Just one hour won’t do it. If you’re really good, you’ll go all Harry Potter and block off an entire eight or so hours. (Of course I say this in reference to when the Harry Potter books were still being released and everyone would set aside an entire day for reading the latest release nonstop until they finished.)

3. Keep your books handy! If you finish one book and don’t have the next one all ready to go, you’re going to get up to look for it, get side-tracked, and end up…you know…not reading.

4. Have snacks and drinks handy! It’s no fun when you look up from the page of your book, snap out of your own little world/reading zone, and hear your stomach grumbling and feel like you haven’t had anything to drink for days.

5. Put your computer on lock-down because you will check Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and all the internet has to offer. Only go on when you want/need to update/track your read-a-thon progress or participate in scheduled read-a-thon chats.

6. Alternate between e-books and actual paper/hardbacks, if possible. Your eyes will thank you.

7. Don’t forget advil. Sounds crazy, right? But, if you’re anything like me, reading for hours on end and straining your eyes sometimes results in major headaches (or worse, migraines) that throw off your entire groove and pacing.

8. Don’t forget bookmarks. If you end up having to leave your reading spot while in the middle of a book, you’re going to need to mark your place. Even if you think you’ll remember the page number. (You’ll thank me when you end up being dragged away for a significant amount of time.)

9. Get comfortable. If you’re going to be reading for hours on end, you won’t want to be in a stiff, back breaking chair. Claim a spot and stay there. Or multiple spots and switch it up!

10. Most importantly, have fun! No stressing allowed. Read-a-thons are meant to be fun, not competitions. If you don’t meet your own goals, no biggie! If you end up chatting more than reading, who cares? It’s all about what you get out of it. Maybe you’ll read two, five, ten books – that’s good! Maybe you’ll meet two, five, ten new blogger/reader friends – that’s good, too! There’s no way to lose. You can only win.

 

 

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A writing dilemma.

Aug
07

16 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

Right now I’m procrastinating on my writing for Camp NaNo. But right now I’m also writing this post, so it evens out.

Writing is a tricky, tricky thing.

In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with writing.

I love that writing is freeing, giving, senseless, overwhelming, strategic, careful, careless, spontaneous, a jumbled mess of emotions and utterly contradicting.

I hate that writing is constricting, strenuous, overwhelming, planned, stressful, toying, and – you guessed it – contradicting.

But writer or no writer, you already know all this.

The biggest issue I have with writing is the fear that comes along with it (or even the lack thereof). Most times when I write, I write for me. I’m a personal writer; I rarely ever share my work with others, unless it’s shared with trusted individuals or forced for a class. Sometimes I think this shouldn’t make sense, because by day I’m also a blogger, and blogging is writing. I share my writing with all of you, with the entirety of the internet, on a daily basis. So why is it that I don’t want to share what doesn’t make it onto the site, my creative writing?

The answer is simple: fear.

But it’s not the fear you might think. As a writer, I’m not afraid of rejection or harsh critiques. As a writer, I’m afraid of the impacts my stories will have on readers (re: again, lack thereof), of their uniqueness (or rather, commonality), of their skill level. Of course, some writing is always meant to be private and for your eyes only. But there’s always writing that’s meant (or intended) to be shared. But I have the hardest time sharing it. I fear a void of reaction. Of course, this is a lose-lose situation. If I don’t show anyone my work, then naturally there will be a void of reaction. And yet I find myself still stuck in this loop.

The hardest part of this for me is knowing that I’m not following my own mantra, my own advice and cause:

I am a writing consultant. Students come to me for any and all writing-related issues. And I take pride in being a writing consultant, for being the one to tell you that you don’t need to be afraid of writing because it’s always going to be there for you, it’s always going to be what you make of it – it’s your words, your style, your voice. Writing is all about you.

(Although this happens almost all of the time) I was once told by someone that they hate writing. They hate writing papers, they hate keeping journals, they hate creating stories, they just hate writing. Period. I asked them why, and they told me it was because they knew they weren’t good at it, because they didn’t want to be told they weren’t good at it. I told them they didn’t hate writing, they were afraid of writing. Then I told them not to be afraid, because every time you write, you get a little better. You still may not enjoy it, and it may not be the thing for you, but you won’t have to be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you know you’re doing your best writing, if you’re doing the kind of writing you want to do. You don’t have to love it or like it.

I think back to that moment every time I feel the fear. I like to think it helps me get one step closer. After all, writing’s all about discovering and journeying.

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photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: veggie burgers

Hello, I’m Alissa and I may be turning into a vegetarian.

All right – that’s not necessarily true. But I do love my vegetables, and lately I’ve been a severe quinoa junky. (That stuff is SO good!) So naturally if you put quinoa and veggies together, I’m going to start drooling. …Although technically I planned to post about another food find, after stumbling upon this recipe and giving it a go, I couldn’t resist; I had to share.

Do you see these beauties sizzling?

I had my reservations about making these, though. Years ago, when I’d decided to try going vegetarian, it was veggie burgers that stopped me from continuing a meatless path. Those premade, hard-as-rock patties were beyond unappetizing and finding this recipe brought back the memories of eating what might as well have been cardboard. But then I saw that they called for quinoa and I thought, How bad could they really be?

Not. Bad. At. All. (Of course this one looks way more picture-perfect than mine!)

INGREDIENTS

veggie burgers

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15 ounces can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small pot, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, scallions, garlic, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into four patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side. [note: I found that this made too much of the mixture for only four patties (I didn’t want them that thick), so I ended up with six instead.]

 

In the end, these were absolutely delicious. And hey – I didn’t have to feel guilty for eating two because they’re packed with protein!

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What did I miss? {7/29 – 8/5}

Aug
05

4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

How do you read…classics? — A new mini feature in which I ask you how you read various types and genres of literature. This week it was all about tackling the classics.

[review] Beauty Queens  by Libba Bray — Satire meets pageant girls meets tropical island.

[review] City of Bones  by Cassandra Clare — FULL of surprises!

Whip it Up Mondays — Doughnuts made easy!

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 I really shouldn’t be typing this right now, having just spent seven hours in a car — and about two of those hours in horrendous traffic — but oh well! It was worth it. I finally managed to squeeze in a mini vacation.

Unfortunately there was no time for reading, and I didn’t get in much before leaving. So my slacking streak is at an all-time high. I’m promising myself I’ll read tomorrow while I’m taking it easy and NOT spending any time in the car. Unsure whether I’ll continue with the Mortal Instruments series right now, or start my first Book Sessions book, Second Chance Summer.

Also, if you didn’t know already: it’s August. This is very, very disappointing for me, because that means school is starting again soon. How is it that I always feel like I never really get a summer vacation?

Bout of Books 5.0 — The official BoB sign-up and schedule were posted! I’m super excited to be hosting one of the challenges!

WP Plugins — New to WP? Not utilizing your plugins effectively? Amanda’s got a nifty list of her favorites for you.

[Not much else seemed to be happening in my Reader this week. Did I miss something? Please feel free to leave links in comments!]

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How do you read…classics?

Aug
03

15 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: How do you read…?, Memes

Classics

From Fitzgerald to Tolstoy to Austen to Homer, there are hundreds of works of classic literature. Most of which we aren’t inclined to read on our own accord. In my own reading history, most classics I’ve read have been through, or because of, school. But even then, I had friends from other schools reading different – and sometimes more – classics than I’d been exposed to. I felt under-read. (Maybe even undereducated?)

Reading classics was always equivalent to a competition for me. In school, it was always about how many classics you’ve read – not whether you liked or understood them. So it was in high school that I started a little conquest for myself: I was going to read as many classics as possible. Just read, read, read until I was spouting Poe and reciting Barrie.

…I didn’t get very far. The reading burnout happened so quickly. I stopped reading for weeks on end, not because I wouldn’t read anything else, but because I didn’t even want to, classic or not. It was then that I realized I needed to enjoy reading, rather than quantify it. Just because I hadn’t read as many classics as others, it didn’t mean I was any less well read or educated.

Since failing/dropping my own challenge, I still haven’t branched out much or gone out of my way to pick up classics. I’ve stuck to what I have to read for school, and I’m okay with that because of the structured pacing it creates. For me, I can’t be rushed when reading classics. I need them to sink in; I need to savor what I’m reading; I need to understand what I’m reading.

I read classics slowly and thoughtfully. (And, admittedly, sometimes begrudgingly.)

REVIEW! Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

Aug
02

9 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book reviews, Three Stars

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Teen beauty queens. A “Lost”-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

400 pages | Published: May 24, 2011 | Scholastic, Inc.

MY THOUGHTS:

 Satire meets pageant girls meets tropical island.

Beauty Queens, while hilarious at its beginning, tapers off as the story progresses.  I couldn’t handle the repetitive snark, sass and mocking; it came across very pushy. It’s overall very witty though, and at times the hilarity I’d enjoyed reappeared to keep me satisfied to keep pushing forward. But it ultimately wasn’t enough to leave me feeling like I’d read something great.

While I love the diversity of the characters, I never felt too attached to any. It got to the point that I’d either forgotten one of the contestants were still around, or I’d forgotten their name(s). And the ones I’d started to care for didn’t stay true to their initial personalities. (I’m mainly looking at you, Adina.) And some simply had/found no resolution. (Case and point: Taylor.) It was as if just as Bray got me to become invested in some of their stories, it all fumbled.

The second half of Beauty Queens, to me, pushed its wit to the limit. It wasn’t funny anymore – it was ridiculous. More ridiculous than its first half, I mean. I just wasn’t buying it anymore. I was no longer invested.

Even though this is one clever, funny story, I expected more from it – more sustenance, progression, and resolution. I wanted more of a cohesive story, and because of this, Beauty Queens  felt like it was lacking that magical something.

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