Category Archives: Books

The Reading Quarterly

I realised two things the other day. First, I hadn’t done any post about books I’ve read since January. And two, I’ve only read 8 books so far this year. According to I’m 9 books behind in my reading goal for the year.

To catch up, I can either stop trying new things or stop sleeping! I don’t see either happening, so maybe I’ll just pick up a few books that are short. To clarify, I consider around 200 pages to be a short book.

In January, I included a checklist of books to read. Not specific books, but books that fall into certain parameters. I decided that each book can only count for one check. Otherwise, I’d be halfway done with my measly 8 books.

Here are how the 8 books fit onto the list:

  1. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – A great book. It is a Newbery Award Winner.
  2. Night – Also a great book. I didn’t know it was a series and my find the rest of the books. It was translated from Yiddish.
  3. The Light in the Ruins – This was an okay story. I felt it dragged a bit. I switched from paper to audio in order to finish the book. The book is based in Italy.
  4. Jane Eyre – While I enjoyed the story, I felt Mr. Rochester spoke for lengths for no reason, really, all the characters did. This book is beyond 100 years older than me.
  5. A Little Princess – I loved the movie with Shirley Temple and when it showed up as an audio book, I had to give it a go. There are similarities, but the book is a pinch better. I was considering this my classic, but I fear it may be from the wrong century.
  6. The Magicians – I almost don’t want to admit I read this book. Ugh. I kept hoping it would get better. For now it’s my sci-fi novel, but it may be replaced.
  7. The Astounding Broccoli Boy – A great young adult book about a boy who turns green and befriends his bully. Oh, and it takes place in London, which is an island.
  8. The Night Circus – The story is a little twisty-turvy with its plot, but I enjoyed it none-the-less. The book refused to conform to any parameters on the list.

I may need to be a little more particular about choosing books to make certain I complete the list.

reading list


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I Like to Read

Schermafbeelding 2014-02-15 om 17.42.41A lot. I read everything. Signs, boxes, brochures, articles, books, magazines, web sites. I just can’t stop reading. I do not comprehend not wanting to read all the time. I just don’t get it. And I will judge you for not reading.

This of course means that I have an account over at I do my best to log the books I have read. Though I’m sure I’ve missed a few (or a lot). I also participate in their yearly reading challenge. Last year I beat my goal of 65 books, by an entire 3 extra books. Go Me! I will admit, this includes audio books. However, it doesn’t include books read for work or to my classroom. That just wouldn’t be fair.

Reading Bingo

This year, I am once again taking on the reading challenge. And I’m upping my goal. I like nice round numbers. I’ve set my goal for 70 books. To make this happen, I’m probably going to have to read a few books under the 300 page mark.

Given that I am a voracious reader, I also keep 2 reading Pinterest boards going. The first is my Reminders to Read board. Anytime I come across a book that sounds interesting, I pin it. I try to read books from this list first. I also have an ongoing list on my phone for when I see a book in a store that I’d like to read but don’t want to purchase just then.

pilha-livrosAs I read the books, I shift them over to my Books Worth Reading board. Unless I think they are total crap, they the pins just get deleted. I don’t often delete pins. A book must be particularly terrible for that to happen.

Of course, there is always my goodread’s shelves that are teeming with the books I’ve read. I try to keep my wish to read shelves there to a minimum and store them on Pinterest.

Outside of the Goodreads challenge, I don’t usually join challenges, but this year, I’m going to use this check list to shake up my reading a little bit.

If anyone knows sources for any of these images, please let me know. Every path I tried lead to a broken link.


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Miss Scarlet’s School

by Kathy Cano-Murillo

Not more than a few days ago, okay, maybe a week, I decided to spend the day reading rather than sewing. Sadly, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as I would like. It used to be that I would sit and read books for days. Now I’m lucky to stay awake for 20 minutes of reading before going to bed! I’m proud of myself so far this year, I believe I’ve already read 4 books! It’s only been a month. Back to my Saturday (or was it Sunday) of reading.

I have been longing to have a copy of Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing since first hearing about the book just after its release date. Various blogs I follow were promoting the book. I, of course, entered all the contests trying to win the book, but to no avail. It even sat on my Amazon wishlist through multiple holidays and birthdays. I gave up hoping for a copy and bought my own. And then received one for Christmas from my boyfriend as well!

The book was as amazing as I had hoped based purely on the title. I had no idea the premise of the book or any knowledge of the author before reading this book. I wanted to read it based on the knowledge that is was about a sewing school. I do this often when I see a book about vintage clothes, dressmakers, and sewing. I figure it’s a topic I enjoy, I’ll probably enjoy the story. I was right on the money with this book!

Miss Scarlet is an up-and-coming designer with an eye for fashion thanks to lessons from her grandmother. We meet Scarlet just as she’s been accepted into the prestigious design school run by  Johnny “Scissors” Tijeras, the nephew of her inspiration Daisy de la Flora. With only a few months to raise the funds, Scarlet decides to open a sewing school to teach her grandmother’s methods of patternless sewing.

As with most chick-lit, everything that can go wrong does. Her jealous boss reneges on allowing the school to be held in her design studios, Scarlet ends up with only a few students, her family doesn’t understand. Yet through it all, Scarlet sticks to her guns and is determined to do anything to go to this school in New York. With the help of her new-found friends (her students), Scarlet very nearly  succeeds. Though in the end, she has the final say in how to make events happen. Will she make the right choices or will she betray those closest to her to get what she believes she wants for her life?


Trailer by Kathy Cano-Murillo. you can check out her blog here.

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Savory…for Breakfast?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. But I’m the one here with the sweet tooth, and my boyfriend likes the savory end. Don’t get me wrong, I like savory as well, but given the choice, I’ll take sweet. Though, the idea isn’t all that far-fetched. We already eat eggs and bacon, that’s savory. A few people even like steak for breakfast. But, a savory breakfast bun? That is just messing around with the perfection that is a cinnamon bun. Unless you side with my boyfriend and prefer the savory flavors. Which makes the Cheddar Swirl Breakfast Buns from Smitten Kitchen perfect.

One of my Christmas gifts was The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. I have been following her blog, Smitten Kitchen, for a couple of years. I have yet to be disappointed by a recipe. Her recipe book has been the same. Though I haven’t tried all the recipes, yet. There may be a few I avoid, such as the Mushroom Bourguignon (blech, mushrooms!). Though that may be the only vegetarian recipe my boyfriend would be excited about!

My book already has stains!

If I were to review this book, there are a few points I would make. First, I love that there is a story written before each recipe. Sometimes the story is about the development of the recipe, some of them are about what inspired the recipe. I admit to sitting down with the book just to read the stories! Did you know people in New York City often use their oven for sweater storage? I had no idea! Mine often isn’t cool long enough to store anything. Second, the photographs are awesome and one of the reasons I began following the blog. There are photos with every recipe. Photographs are necessary with recipes and menus, or you just don’t know what you are getting yourself into. Just remember not to compare to see whose is better looking. Finally, the directions are clear and concise. I wasn’t left wondering how long to cook something because the instructions said both an approximate time and how it should look. Such as “cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly browned.” I appreciate that detail in a recipe. And one more thing, there is an entire vegetarian section! With about a dozen recipes. I’m not vegetarian, but I still think that is awesome.

As for the Cheddar Swirl Breakfast Buns (you’ll find them on page 49). They were yummy! I ate two! My boyfriend had three. That’s how I know they were really good. The process did take a while. I would recommend starting them the night before and following her directions for refrigerating them overnight. Unless you like waking up at 3 am to start breakfast. These will be made again. But I am thinking about making a couple changes. First, I’m going to half the recipe. The two of us don’t need 12 buns. 6 will do nicely. Though, they did last about a week in Ziploc on the counter. I’m also going to caramelize the onions. I think that will add a little sweet to the mix. I also want to add crumbled bacon. Because everything is better with bacon.

Despite my excitement over this recipe, it will not be typed into this post. I really wanted to share it with you. However for two very big reasons, I will not be. First, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has not shared this recipe on her blog, so I cannot link you to it. Second, upon learning this, I did some research into copyright law about sharing recipes and learned a couple interesting things. (Woo! a free lesson in copyright law. People pay lots of money to learn this stuff) First, I could list the ingredients, that can’t be copyrighted, but what good is a list of ingredients without the instructions. Second, the instructions are copyrighted. I would have to change the instructions significantly in order to share them with you. I believe that would be doing an injustice to the recipe.

This leaves you with a couple of options for getting this recipe. First, visit me! Second, buy the book (this I highly recommend anyway)! Third, invite me to come visit you to make breakfast! Until then, you can just drool over my photos!


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Summer Reading

My summer reading list went from fun and frivolous to serious in one giant leap! I realise that most read books that are light and fun in the summer. At least that is what advertisement lead me to believe, I’ve never actually check with real people about this. I find it easier to read the big, heavy tomes in the summer when my brain has less to worry about. I save up the chick lit and such for the school year when my brain needs a break from lesson writing and grading papers.

I don’t often read memoirs, or non-fiction of any kind. I read enough of that for work. When I am reading for fun, I much prefer fiction. However, I neglected to read the back of this book and picked it up solely because of the title.  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir of her upbringing. Had I not known this was non-fiction, I would not have believed it after reading the book.

From the very beginning, Jeannette draws you into her world. She wove the web of her life into a wonderful story, capturing the essence of living life to its fullest possible enjoyment. I found myself wondering what my one thing would be as my family planned the skedaddle. As she grew older, she began to realise this wasn’t a normal way of life. Jeanette does her best to keep faith in her father’s dreams, but as she matures, the reality of their way of life sinks in. As this happens, we watch her mature and begin to fight against the pull to stay in this lifestyle. With careful planning, she and siblings work hard to take control of their own lives.

I’m glad I took this little journey into non-fiction. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend reading it. The story opened my eyes to how some of my students may be experiencing life.

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Sarah’s Key

I stumbled across Sarah’s Key while searching for the recently published book The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay. I have yet to procure a copy of that book, but I figured there is no harm in reading another book by the same author. I wouldn’t call this book your typical summer beach read (though that is where I read most of this book). Sarah’s Key is a very stirring and emotional tale.

The book starts off in present day, well 2002, Paris where we meet American Journalist Julia Jarmond and her family. Julia has just been given the assignment to write about the tragic events of Vel’ de’ Hiv. An event that took place during the war in July of 1942. An event that has been overlooked and ignored by the French because of its brutal treatment of Jews, specifically children. Julia soon finds herself obsessed with this story. Through a bizarre link of events finds that her life is connected to the people whose story she is writing about.

As we follow Julia’s path of discovery, we also follow Sarah’s story. Sarah was one of the children who were rounded up along with their families. As they were being taken, Sarah locks her brother in a hidden cabinet thinking she will be back soon enough to let him out. It soon becomes very clear that despite the fact that the French police are in charge rather than the Germans, this is much more serious than anyone could have imagined. All while Sarah is held captive, her concern lies with her little brother locked in the cabinet. This concern finally pushes her to act and brings on a daring chain of events that begin with escaping a prison camp.

This book is very well written. Despite it’s heavy, tragic topic, I found the book was easy to read. The switching between two story lines every other chapter added depth to the merging of the two stories later in the book.

I have also discovered that the book has been made into a movie. Even better, this movie is on Netflix. The only downside it that the movie is in French (which I don’t speak). I’ll either have to learn French in the next couple days, or set aside all projects and watch with subtitles!

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Stephanie Plum: Bond Enforcement Agent

I may need to set my reading goal a bit higher. Last week, I read three books! They weren’t very long books and the topics were fun, so they were quick reads. I am enjoying the Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I believe they are classified as mystery novels in the bookstores. I think they are a little bit chick lit, a smidgen romance, and heavy on the comedy. How serious can a book be when your Grandma tests out your gun on the chicken you are eating for dinner?

Stephanie Plum is an amazing bounty hunter, she always gets her man (or woman), and never has any complications. At least that’s what she aspires to become. Currently (and for at least 18 books), she keeps her gun in the cookie jar, rarely makes a capture on the first attempt, and often has someone trying to kill or capture her as well. Though it’s never her fault! Let’s not forget her ability to maim and destroy cars, trucks, vans, and SUV’s at an alarming rate. Or her affinity for Tasty Cakes, doughnuts, and birthday cake!

At the beginning of the series, Stephanie blackmailed her cousin Vinnie into giving her a job as a bond enforcement agent. She needs to make some money fast to keep her life afloat after her nasty divorce and losing her job. The job was intended to be temporary, only Stephanie finds she likes it, when people aren’t also trying to kill her. Which happens often as bringing people to jail doesn’t get you on their good side.

I could probably type all night and still have only covered the basics, but really I want to go finish the next book! These books are great, quick, funny reads. I highly recommend grabbing the first one “One for the Money” to take with you to the pool or beach.

I have just finished reading Fearless Fourteen, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Sizzling Sixteen, and Smokin’ Seventeen. I guess that is four books. Summer vacation is great!

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Summer Reading Pledge 2012

Once again, Caiti over at Life is a Canvas is hosting a summer reading challenge. I’ve been hoping she would host it again this year. I loved reading challenges as a kid. All the prizes you could win from the library or Pizza Hut. Sadly, we lived too far away from the library for me to read more than the allotted 12 books every two weeks. Can you imagine having the time to read that many books in two weeks. Mind you, these books were 300-400 pages like some of the books I read now are, but they were substantial for a 10-12 year-old to read. Now, I just love the accountability it adds to keep myself reading.

I’ve pledged to read 12 books this summer. I’m not including in this list the books I plan on pouring over for teaching. I’m only counting the books read for fun or entertainment. I’m not much of a planner when it comes to reading books. I may have one or two that I really want to read, but for the most part, I let my mood decide what to read next either from books I have, the list I’ve created, or something I’ve just discovered. Maybe I’m revisiting an old friend.

My list so far includes:

The Plum Series by Janet Evanovich – I have 2 books left to read in the series. I’ve already finished 2 this week.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – inspired by our trip to Savannah, GA

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – I like to read this once a year

I’m also feeling the pull from some of my childhood books like Anne of Green Gables and Little House. I may be reading some of those as well as a few by Roald Dahl. If I read only children’s books, I may have to up my goal!

What is on your summer reading list?

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Summer Reading Book #8

Wendy McClure: The Wilder Life

From the moment I first heard about Wendy McClure‘s book, The Wilder Life, I knew I had to read it. I grew up in South Dakota. Thankfully, not in a shanty built by my Pa. Though he did do quite a few renovations to our home over the years. I have always felt a kinship with Laura, but only because I grew up in the same state.

I do remember reading the Little House books. Though most of my knowledge of Laura comes from watching the show after school. I remember one year, my Oma bought my sister and I bonnets on one of her summer trips. I loved my bonnet and wore it whenever I could; always down my back just like Laura.

My first sewing project was inspired by Little House. I was 8 or 9 and absolutely needed a long gingham skirt to wear with my bonnet. Rather than just make one for me, my mum took the opportunity to teach me how to sew. That afternoon, I learned how to cut out a pattern, sew seams, make an elastic waistband, and stitch a hem.

I also remember playing Little House on the Prairie with my sister, brother, and cousins. There are photos somewhere of all of us dressed up as characters from the story.

I haven’t even mentioned the book yet! I read this book based on the title and the knowledge it was about Laura and Little House on the Prairie. I kind of thought it was a fictional novel. I was pleasantly surprised as I began to read the book. I found the book engaging and at some points I just had to read a bit more before going to bed. Who knew exploring the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder could be so interesting?

I must applaud the author for the lengths she took to explore Laura World. Searching down a butter churn just like the one Ma used took considerable effort. I would also like to try making butter, but I think I’ll use my Kitchen Aid. I do want to take a trip up to South Dakota and spend the night in a covered wagon. I also want to track down the Japanese Anime rendition of Little house!

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Summer Reading Book #7

Sophie Kinsella: Twenties Girl

This may be my favourite book by Sophie Kinsella. Twenties Girl is still very much a chick lit book, but with a ghost and a mystery. Like many young women, Lara is struggling to sort out life. She’s recently split with her boyfriend (he left her and she hasn’t quite accepted it), the business she started with her friend is flailing (and she’s learning her best friend hasn’t been telling the whole truth), and to top it off she’s now being haunted by her great-aunt Sadie (who has come back as a Twenties Flapper).

Through a myriad of adventures, Lara and Sadie find themselves in some unusual situations. My favourite is when Lara agrees to ask someone out so Sadie can go on a date with the handsome Ed from America. Let’s not forget the main focus of the book, to search out Sadie’s lovely dragonfly necklace.  A search that has Lara claiming her aunt was murdered, sneaking into houses, and uncovering some interesting family history.

If you want a quick beach read with some intrigue I would highly recommend Twenties Girl.

This books marks my goal for the summer reading challenge hosted by Caiti at Life is a Canvas. I hope to finish a few more books before the September 1st deadline.



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