Monthly Archives:: November 2012

Enclave by Ann Aguirre, read by Emily Bauer

November 29, 2012 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 4

Title: Enclave: Razorland #1
Author: Ann Aguirre
Read by: Emily Bauer
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 9781427211200
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Acquired from the publisher

Introduction:

This dystopian novel has a lot going for it. And little bit NOT.

Plot:

It is I Have No Idea How Many Years into the future. Humanity has taken to living underground, it was appears to be the subway system of New York City. Humans don’t live long. The age of twenty-one is considered old age. Deuce, our heroine, was born underground. She has never seen the sun, by all appearances has never even heard of it. Deuce is a Huntress. She takes to the tunnels to hunt meat and protect the enclave from what they call “Freaks”. Freaks are, best I can tell, something of a cross between zombies and feral humans. Her hunting partner, Fade, was not born in the enclave. He was found, young and alone, in the tunnels, and the enclave took him in. Deuce is a loyal member of the enclave. Fade, maybe not so much, but, since he’s her partner, she is also loyal to him. Yet, when Fade, and circumstance, make Deuce stand up and take notice, she realizes things are maybe not what she thought.

When Deuce and Fade are exiled from the Enclave, and forced to go “topside”, Deuce learns, well, a lot. More than she ever dreamed possible.

Characters:

Deuce is excellent. She’s strong. She’s smart. She relies on herself and with good reason. She can kick ass! She’s a little naive (what female character in YA isn’t any more?) and a little too trusting. She is ignorant, but only because everyone in the Enclave (except for perhaps the Word guy) is ignorant.

Fade was weak, especially compared to Deuce. The basics (and this really doesn’t give anything away!) is that he’s two years older than Deuce. He was born above ground (where the people of the enclave believe you’ll burn up if you were to walk up there) and he knew his father. He’s a wicked good fighter, he has a tendency to go feral when fighting, and he’s quiet. He’s fiercely loyal to the few (like, one, maybe two) friends he has.

Strengths:

  • Liked the main girl, Deuce, very much. She was very appealing in a Katniss/Katsa kind of way.
  • The world building, while sometimes a little far fetched (I have a hard time believing that the same world that is so far gone that paved roads are little more than rubble also has canned food that is edible), is also (besides that) rather well done. For instance, I liked that Aguirre made sure to make Deuce very sensitive to the sun and she doesn’t just let that go. Deuce has to worry about the sun constantly and I think that’s very true to how a girl who has only lived underground would be.
  • The story was good, if not as strong as I’d like. I kind of wonder if this isn’t a symptom of an adult writer writing a YA?
  • Strong, fast pace, which is good for the genre
  • The girl knows how to fight!

Weaknesses:

  • Could improve on character development. I felt Fade was weak; well, really every character was weak besides Deuce.
  • The plot could have been better developed. It is compelling, but I was left wanting more meat in the story (no pun intended), it’s a case of show me, don’t tell me.
  • The “love triangle” was weird. I haven’t mention the other guy. There is ALWAYS another guy. I don’t even remember his name, only that I didn’t like him. I mean, I REALLY didn’t like him. See next bullet.
  • Didn’t like the serial-rapist-and-rape-accomplice-suddenly-turned-good character (THIS is the other guy. I know. Gross.). You don’t just flip a switch on a personality like that. He makes creepy Edward Cullen look like a saint.
  • The world building is a little weird. It feels like the event-that-is-not-defined happened a very long time ago, long enough for streets to be rubble from rain and erosion, yet they can still eat food from cans? That food should be beyond rancid if it’s been that long ago. Not that we would know.
  • Didn’t care for the reader that much. She sounded way too young.

Conclusion: 

While it had some problems, Enclave was a decent dystopian novel. I am intrigued enough to read the next in the series. I think Deuce is a terrific character and I’m anxious to see if some of the problems I had with Enclave are resolved in Outpost.

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Monday Rambles

November 26, 2012 Miscellaneous 6

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m about turkey-ed out. I think I can go another year without even smelling the bird. Ugh.

Cranberry Shortbread Cake on the other hand…I could eat that every day. Or, well, maybe once a month. Don’t want to push it. Still want to try it with raspberries….

Thankfully Reading Weekend was a welcome R&R time for me. I just wish I’d had a little more time to read! We wound up going Christmas shopping Saturday. It’s good to be that much closer to being through with present shopping, but we were gone all. day. long. Here is what I did manage to read:

Finished Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. Be happy Chris, I LOVED IT. Oh. my. goodness. LOVE.

Read Owly, Volume 5: Tiny Tales by Andy Runton. Waaaaay cute.

Read Around the World by Matt Phelan, which was awesome. Completely what I expect from Mr. Phelan, and more.

Read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler. This is the graphic novel edition Marvel put together. I’m not surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The art was lovely and the text was faithful to Ms. Austen. Win!

Also started Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor, made more headway with Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman, and of course, with the Count. All in all, I read about 770 pages. Not bad, I think!

That’s all for now. I have to go get ready to go to work, where I haven’t been in over a week. And try not to cry about it. *sigh* Have a great week!

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Weekend Cooking – Cranberry Shortbread Cake

November 23, 2012 Weekend Cooking 12

This cake. This. Cake. Oh my gosh, y’all. I have a new favorite cake. It’s so easy to make (don’t let the long recipe fool you!), so very tasty (especially with a lot of whipped cream on top *drool*), and did I mention it’s tasty? Because it is. This cranberry filling makes it so holidayish! I can’t wait to make it again. And I think I’m going to try it with raspberries. Like, very soon.

Cranberry Shortbread Cake

Adapted from Singleton in the Kitchen 

For the Jam Filling:
1 large navel orange
about 1/4 cup of orange juice
1 12-ounce bag cranberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
About 1 cup sugar

For the Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick plus 5 tablespoons (13 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To Make the Jam Filling:

Grate the zest of an orange into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Slice off the peel, removing the white, cottony pith that sticks to the fruit, and slice between the membranes to release the orange segments. Cut the segments into 1/4-inch wide pieces and toss these into the pan. Working over a measuring cup, squeeze the juice from the membranes — if you have 1/4 cup, great; if not, add enough additional orange juice (or water) to make 1/4 cup — and pour it into the pan.

Put the cranberries in the pan, stir in 3/4 cup of sugar, set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the cranberries pop and your spoon leaves tracks, about 5 minutes. Scrape the jam into a bowl and taste it — if it’s too tart, add more sugar to taste. Cool to room temperature. (The filling can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

To Make the Cake:

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and smooth. Add 1 cup of sugar and continue to beat until it dissolves into the butter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and egg yolk and, beating until they too are absorbed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated; since this is a delicate dough, one that should not be over beaten, you might want to finish mixing in the flour by hand using a sturdy spatula. You’ll have a thick dough, one that is quite malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a smooth surface and gather it together in a ball, then divide in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate them for 15 to 30 minutes. (At this point, the dough can be refrigerated overnight; set it out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before proceeding.)

Getting Ready to Bake:

While the dough is chilling, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan (preferably nonstick) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Work with one piece of dough at a time. For the bottom layer, either roll out the dough to size between two pieces of plastic wrap — it’s an easy enough dough to roll — and lay it in the pan, or put the dough in the pan and press it lightly and evenly across the bottom with your fingertips. Spread the cranberry filling over the dough.

Unwrap the second piece of dough, but leave it on the plastic. Press and/or roll it until it is just the diameter of the pan. Carefully lift the dough and invert it on the filling, lift off the plastic and use your fingers to even it as necessary so that it covers the filling. Brush the top of the cake very lightly with water and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is lightly golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the cake, remove the sides of the pan and let cool to room temperature.

This is my first post for the Holiday Pin It and Do it.

Hurrah!

See Love, Laughter and Insanity to join in. It’s always a lot of fun!

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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Thankfully Reading Weekend!

November 22, 2012 Books 9

The turkey has been eaten. The dessert long gone. It’s time to curl up and head off that post-holiday nappy time with reading. I have 4 days of freedom (except for the very brief trek I’m going to make this evening to Walmart and I hope to soak up as much of the written word as I can. I have a LOT of reading to do with The Count, as well as Speaker for the Dead, Philip Pullman’s take on Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and so. much. more.

See? I moved one of my shelves to the area beside my head (and I LOVE IT SO MUCH) and I have one shelf dedicated to all the things I want to read right now. It’s kinda scary. And beautiful. I have a couple of shelves with all my most favorite reads, and it made me want to reread all of them too! Eek!

Anyhoosie. I think I’ll go snag one last piece of cake (you know I was kidding about the dessert, right?) and cozy up with my Dantes. Catch ya later, gator!

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Monday Rambles

November 19, 2012 Miscellaneous 5

 Good morning!

I’m on vacation!

Neener, neener, neender!

In other news, Jill (from Fizzy Thoughts, Queen of Tribute songs) has a new song, this time about Edmund Dantes! (woot!) over at Estella. It’s…hilarious. And slightly mean at me. But it’s funny, so it’s okay. I kicked her ass at Words With Friends.

Are you reading along with us? I’m on page 250 or so and things are getting GOOD. I love me some Dantes. If you are reading, how are you liking it so far?

I’m also reading too many other things. Let’s see, I have my hand in Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. I kind of wish I had waiting until I was finished with The Count, but I took a peek at it and next thing I knew, I’d read about 50 pages. Hard to turn back from that.

I’m also reading Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman. Some of those old fairy tales are straight up twisted, yo! Gosh, they are good.

AND, yes, there is an and, we’re up to 4 books now, I’m listening to Because it is My Blood  by Gabrielle Zevin, one of my favorite under appreciated YA authors. It’s the second in her Birthright series. Chocolate is illegal. I mean, just, uh, how do you even, I don’t, UGH. I couldn’t live without chocolate. Seriously, I’d be in jail or something by now. It’s my nicotine. Anyhoosie, I loved the first book, All These Things I’ve Done (my review), and BisMYB looks to be even MORE fantastic. I’m a little over halfway through the book and am very glad that I’m going shopping today so I can listen some more. This is the only downside to vacation, no listening to CDs in the house. Well, I could, but it’s a pain in the ass.

Also, read Gabrielle Zevin people! Start with Margarettown. *sigh* Just go in publication order. She just gets better and better.

Oh yeah, and it’s read by the fantastic Ilyana Kadushin. And I appear to be over the fact that I immediately think of Bella Swan when I hear her voice. So that’s good.

I hope to post more this week, but I’m on vacation. I have lots of Christmas shopping and home improvement (read, Pinterest) projects I want to get to. So I’ll see ya when I sees ya. :)

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My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future

November 15, 2012 Book Reviews, Books 6

Title: My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future
Author: Kate and David Marshall
Published: November 6, 2012
ISBN: 978-1592407842
Acquired: from publisher, via BlogHer

Introduction:

If anyone needs help organizing their life, it’s me. Good Lord, it’s me.

Plot:

Kate and David Marshall have set out to provide a book that helps readers lay out their past, present, and dreams in such a way that assists one in finding the way to happiness and fulfillment. So, in other words, sign me up!

This slim book is deceptive. When I took it out of the envelope, and saw how SMALL it was, I thought how is such a thing going to help me? My life needs more work than these few pages can provide, surely! However, the inside holds a lot more than I thought it did. I was expecting, well, preaching, like you get with most self-help books. The Marshall’s do not preach however. This self-help book is unlike any I’ve read before (not that I’ve read a bunch, so not really not much basis for comparison). This journal provides maps. (Hence the name, eh?) These maps help you “see” your life.”  There are maps for your past, for where you are now in the present, and maps for the future. Then, the Marshall’s help you take these maps and use them to “see” where you want to go.

I so desperately need to see where I want to go.

Obviously, it’s too early to say if these maps will help me. I haven’t had the book very long! Yet, as I’ve started filling it out, I can see the value in this. The Marshall’s ask you to look back at your life, to even the most mundane things, and remember what used to make you happy. To what fulfilled you. What you liked when you were in grade school, college, just starting out in life. Then they (supposedly, I haven’t gotten that far yet) help you find that in your life now and in the future.

That’s a pretty powerful thing. If you (and I) sit down and do it.

Strengths:

  • Well laid out
  • The ideas are inspiring

Weaknesses:

  • Have to stick with it

Conclusion: 

I think this would be a great gift for graduates, friends you know are struggling, and maybe even the most well put together. I’m going to keep going with it and see if it helps.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book.

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November Classic Club Question

November 12, 2012 Books 8

This month’s the Classics Club asks the following question:
What classic piece of literature most intimidates you, and why? And has your view changed at all since you joined our club? 
Well THIS is an easy question. And I’ve already seen similar answers on other blogs! Why, it’s this!
and
but also
and
Ulysses and Proust seem most obvious. And, despite enjoying the bit of the Iliad and the Odyssey that I read in high school and in my college Mythology class, they still scare the heck out of me. And Wuthering Heights just gives me the heebie jeebies. I feel depressed just thinking about it.
I haven’t read as many challenging (for me) classics as I would like this year, so now, I’m actually leaning toward confronting one of these behemoths next year. Maybe on Estella?

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