Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beer Bread Recipe

My family loves this recipe for Beer Bread. I don't remember where we first found it. It was somewhere on the internet. Here's the recipe:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz can or bottle of beer
1 stick of butter, melted (I only use half of a stick)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the beer and combine. The batter will be very thick! Pour into a greased loaf pan and then pour the melted butter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Enjoy with your favorite bowl of soup!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

I can't believe how long it has been since I posted a book review. I've been spending a lot of time working on craft projects for Christmas gifts, so I haven't been reading very much. I was on the library wait list for Cleopatra's Daughter for over a month. It was definitely worth the wait! Here's a summary from Amazon:
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

This book was so good! I loved it just as much as Michelle Moran's other book, Nefertiti. I loved Selene; she's a much better character than Nefertari from The Heretic Queen. I was a bit surprised that Marc Antony and Cleopatra died so early on in the book. I liked that this book takes place in Rome as opposed to Egypt. It made it a lot more interesting. I really hope that Michelle Moran writes another book soon. She's an amazing author! Everyone should read Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter.

5 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time for a Face Lift

I have decided to make some changes to this blog. I stopped reading as quickly as I used to so I wasn't updating as much as I was hoping. I will be adding some more content that isn't just book related. I plan to add cooking and baking posts as well as craft posts. These are some of my favorite things to do. I hope all of you enjoy these changes!

I will begin this overhaul with a cooking related post. Here's a recipe I just came up with for Cream of Broccoli Cheese Soup:

1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup diced onions
3 tablespoons flour
5 - 6 cups milk (I used skim)
1 package frozen broccoli (I used the steam in the bag kind)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
garlic, salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pot. Add the onions and cook until they are clear. In the meantime, cook the broccoli according to the instructions. Add the flour to the butter and onions one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue to whisk until the butter and flour mixture is incorporated. Add the cooked broccoli and the cheese. Add as much spice as you'd like. Stir until the cheese is melted and the soup is hot. Enjoy!
This would probably serve 3 - 4 people.

I didn't measure as I made this so the measurements are my best guess. I would serve this with some homemade bread, rolls or biscuits. Perfect for a cold night!

I hope you guys enjoy this new format.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

Here's today's Booking Through Thursday question:

What’s the most informative book you’ve read recently?

I would have to say that the most informative book I've read recently is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's about why certain people are more (or less) successful than others. It was a very interesting book. I learned why most professional hockey players were born in January, February and March. I also found out why Asian people tend to be better at math. I really enjoyed the book, and so did my mom and brother. I've been thinking about picking up one of his other books, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Don't read this review if you haven't read the first book in this series, as it may contain spoilers!

Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Here's a synopsis from Amazon:
"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge."
This book was AMAZING!!! I'm so in love with this series! I already want to reread both books. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading Catching Fire. I actually had to put it down for a second so I could take a breath and calm down a bit. I was so caught up in the book, I read it in one day. I finished at 1:30 in the morning! I'm even more in love with Peeta now. He's my new book boyfriend. Just don't tell Eric Northman! LOL I don't really understand why some people like Gale more than Peeta. We don't even know that much about Gale; he hasn't had much "face time" in the books.

I can't wait for the third book to come out, but I have to wait an entire year! *le sigh* I don't know what I'll do until then. I'm using this book for the "read a book with a verb in the title" category for the Summer Book Challenge.

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

I know it's weird that I read a book about Christmas in September, but it's one of the tasks for the Summer Book Challenge. Here's a synopsis of Skipping Christmas by John Grisham from Amazon:
"Luther and Nora Krank are fed up with the chaos of Christmas. The endless shopping lists, the frenzied dashes through the mall, the hassle of decorating the tree... where has all the joy gone? This year, celebrating seems like too much effort. With their only child off in Peru, they decide that just this once, they'll skip the holidays. They spend their Christmas budget on a Caribbean cruise set to sail on December 25, and happily settle in for a restful holiday season free of rooftop snowmen and festive parties.

But the Kranks soon learn that their vacation from Christmas isn't much of a vacation at all, and that skipping the holidays has consequences they didn't bargain for..."
I decided to read this book for the "read a book that takes place during Christmas" task for the Summer Book Challenge. I really liked the movie version - Christmas with the Kranks - so I decided to give the book a try. I thought it was really cute! They really stayed true to the book when they made the movie. This book was very short and such a quick read. I read it in one day! Now I just wish it was closer to the holidays. I would never skip Christmas because it's my favorite time of year. I can't wait! Maybe I'll go watch Christmas with the Kranks now...

4 out of 5 stars

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Don't read this review if you haven't read the first books in this series, as it may contain spoilers!

Dead and Gone is the ninth book in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris. Here's a synopsis from Amazon:
"The Louisiana town of Bon Temps—along with the rest of the world—is about to be rocked with some big supernatural news: like the vampires before them, the Were people—humans with the ability to change into animals—are about to reveal themselves to humanity. Psychic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse is apprehensive about the revelation, given the way some people in the small town revile anyone with extraordinary powers, including Sookie herself. While the initial announcement seems to go over smoothly with most people, tragedy strikes when Sookie’s brother Jason’s estranged wife, a werepanther, is found murdered and nailed up on a cross. Jason is the prime suspect, but Sookie has even bigger problems to deal with when she learns that a vicious fairy prince is determined to kill her."
I'm sad that I'm finished with all of the books that have been released. I have to wait until next May for the next book! Plus, True Blood is ending next week and I'll have to wait until next summer for the third season. I'm going to suffer from Sookie withdrawal! Dead and Gone was such a great book. I'm definitely sad about some parts, but I loved every minute of it. I kind of want to go back and reread the entire series now, but I have too many books on my TBR shelf. I haven't read all of the short stories yet, so I'm excited for the book of short stories that is coming out next month. I haven't figured out how to fit this into the Summer Book Challenge yet. I only have a little over 3 weeks left in the challenge!

5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, September 3, 2009

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse is the eighth book in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris. Here's a synopsis from Amazon:
"After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade explosion at the vampire summit, everyone—human and otherwise—is stressed, including Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who is trying to cope with the fact that her boyfriend Quinn has gone missing. It’s clear that things are changing—whether the weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie—Friend to the Pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, leader of the local vampire community—is caught up in the changes."
This book was full of "WTF?!" moments. It was great! Some moments made me very happy, while others just left me stunned. I think this was one of the better books of the series. I'm still completely in love with Eric, and I will be pissed if Sookie ends up with Bill again! I will probably use this for the "cook a meal inspired by a book" category of the Summer Book Challenge. I can't wait to read the last book so I can be all caught up. Then I will just need to track down all of the short stories...

5 out of 5 stars

Booking Through Thursday

Here is today's Booking Through Thursday question:

What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?

(Feel free to think “big” as size, or as popularity, or in any other way you care to interpret.)

The "biggest" book, in terms of page numbers, that I've read recently (the last year or so) is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I enjoyed the book very much, and the sequel is currently sitting on my TBR shelf. I haven't picked it up yet because it's a bit daunting. Both books are about 1000 pages.

The "biggest" book, in terms of popularity, that I've read recently is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I had no idea this book was so popular when I picked it up. One of the tasks in the Summer Book Challenge is to read a book that an author you enjoy has recommended. Apparently, Stephenie Meyer really liked The Hunger Games, so I used it for the task. I'm so glad I did, as it's an amazing book! Stephenie Meyer may not be the best writer in the world, but she has some good taste in books! (Well, I actually have no idea what kind of books she likes aside from The Hunger Games, so I'm just assuming she has good taste based on the fact that she liked The Hunger Games.) I can't wait to read Catching Fire! I'm waiting for my Dad to finish it so that I can borrow it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

The Awakening is the first book in the Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith. Here is a synopsis from Amazon:

"Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he'd kill to possess her."

I was on the holds list for this book at my local library, but it was taking a long time so I decided to buy the book. I'm kind of regretting that now. I should have just waited for it. I'm pretty disappointed in this book, and it's only the first one! I can't stand Elena. She's just like all of the girls I hated when I was in school. She thinks the world revolves around her and everyone does everything she says. It's ridiculous! I don't understand why she's so obsessed with Stefan when she knows nothing about him. Also, she's "in love" after a week of being together?!

I didn't like that the author tried to keep Stefan so mysterious to the reader. Lots of "...but I can't think about that right now." It got to be really annoying. I thought the story was extremely anti-climactic. The whole thing with Katharine was laughable not sad and heartbreaking like it was meant to be. I guess I'll probably end up reading the next book since it's in the same volume that I bought. I had high hopes for this book, but now I'm just so disappointed. I'm using this for the "teens as the main characters" category for the Summer Book Challenge.

2 out of 5 stars

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about books for children…

Do you buy books as gifts for children – either your own or those of friends or family? Would you buy books for all children, or only children who are already practiced readers?

I have never actually given books as a gift to children, but I would like to. The main reason I haven't is that I never know which books the child already owns. I hate giving someone a gift they already have. I don't have any children yet, but I've already begun a collection of books for children on my bookshelf. I hope my children will love to read as much as I do.

I would give books to any children even if they can't read yet. Although, if I know that an older child really doesn't like to read, I won't give them a book. There's no point in giving them something they won't enjoy. It's impossible to force a kid to like to read.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Don't read this review if you haven't read the first books in this series, as it may contain spoilers!

All Together Dead is the seventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris. Here is a synopsis from Amazon:
"Sookie attends an all-important central U.S. vamp summit on the shores of Lake Michigan as a "human geiger counter" for Sophie-Anne Leclerq, vampire queen of a Louisiana weakened by Katrina and who will be tried during the event for murdering her king. Sookie knows the queen is innocent, but she's hardly prepared for other shocking murders, not to mention protests by the Fellowship of the Sun, a right-wing antivampire movement. Her sleuthing skills, along with those of her new telepath friend, Barry the Bellboy, are put to the extreme test."
I think this book was definitely one of the best of this series. I still can't stand Quinn, and I just want Sookie and Eric to get together already! The summit was different than I expected. I thought it was pretty funny that it was basically a big conference with vendors and everything. I was surprised by who was behind the murders. Maybe I'm dense, but I didn't see that coming. I loved that Barry was back, and he had more confidence in himself. I think they should bring in more telepaths. I guess they're pretty rare, though. I wish I could fit this book into the Summer Book Challenge, but I just can't figure out how. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to complete the challenge at this point, but it's still fun.

5 out of 5 stars, of course!