Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Creativity Corner: Ohio State Stadium Cake


My 11 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

For this year's Ohio State vs. Michigan game I made this stadium cake.  I purchased the pan several years ago from Williams Sonoma, but this is the first time I have used it.  I decided to use the recipe that was on the pan's packaging, but I would not recommend it.  It was a bundt cake recipe, but it turned out very dry compared the the recipe I usually use in these types of cake pans.

If nothing else it was a very cute centerpiece at my party :)



Monday, December 19, 2016

COYER Challenge Sign-Up


I have been in a bit of a reading funk the last few weeks, so what better way to gear up for the new year than another COYER challenge.

For the full details and the sign-up, click on this link.

I'm not the fastest reader and I may struggle with have to stick with only eBooks under $1, but I'm going to try to post more reviews for this challenge than I did last summer.

The following is the description:

This time COYER is going to be a 12 week Blackout, where you have to dedicate yourself to reading the books YOU ALREDY have acquired for less than $1.00.  The only exception is audio books, which you must have purchased for less than $5.  They must either be eBooks or audio books.

We understand that we’re all constantly acquiring new books,  though.  So we’ve provided you a little relief (believe it or not this was all Michelle!), in the form of a generator.  Every book powers the generator up a little more.  After reading 10 books over 100 pages your generator is fully powered.  Books under 100 pages only provide half the energy… So it would take 20 books under 100 pages to power your generator.
Once your generator is powered up,  you may read ANY one book you want.  Doesn’t matter how much it cost, where you got it,  what format it is.  But your generator only has enough power for ONE book,  so use it immediately and wisely.  You can’t save it to use later,  it’s now or never!
COYER Blackout will run from December 17, 2016 – March 3, 2017. We will leave the linky open 1 extra day for you to get reviews in,  but those reviews need to be posted by the end of the day March 3rd. We will announce winners of (3) $10 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes and Noble on March 4th.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bookish Goals Status Update: November 2016


In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2016 Goals.

Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

  • Read and review at least 40 books 
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
    2. First Family by David Baldacci
    3. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    4. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues Book 1)
    5. I Survived Hurricane Katrina (I Survived #3)
    6. I Survived the Joplin Tornado (I Survived #12)
    7. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer 
    8. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
    9. One False Note by Gordon Korman (39 Clues #2)
    10. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3)
    11. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins
    12. Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
    13. Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson (39 Clues #4)
    14. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
    15. 738 Days by Stacey Kade
    16. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
    17. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
    18. The Crown by Kiera Cass
    19. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    20. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
    21. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
    22. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
    23. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
    24. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
    25. The Bronze Key by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
    26. The Partner by John Grisham
    27. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
    28. For This Life Only by Stacey Kade
    29. All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
    30. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
    31. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
    32. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
  • I am once again participating in the New To You Challenge hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  I'm going to aim for the "Dipping the Toes" level with 12 - 24 books that qualify. Any book over 80ish pages qualify as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc. - Goal Complete
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic  - New series
    2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - New author and New Series
    3. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan - New series
    4. I Survived Hurricane Katrina - New author and New Series
    5. One False Note by Gordon Korman - New author
    6. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis - New author
    7. Shade Me by Jennifer Brown - New series
    8. Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson (39 Clues) - New author
    9. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig - New author
    10. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire - New author
    11. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - New author & New Series
    12. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee - New author & Series
    13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - New author & Series
  • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
    2. 738 Days by Stacey Kade
    3. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
    4. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
    5. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
    6. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
    • Last year I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was the book that had been on my Goodreads TBR list the longest.  This year, I have 49 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  I plan on reading at least 3 of them. Goal Complete
      1. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
      2. The Partner by John Grisham 
      3. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. 
      1. The Crown by Kiera Cass - The Selection Series
      2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - The Divergent Series
      3. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Cycle Series
      4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover - The Slammed Series 
    • Attend a book convention - Goal Complete
      • I had an absolute blast at BEA this year.  I posted daily recaps with pictures and highlights in May.
    • I joined the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. My goal is to reach Mount Blanc level - Read 24  books in 2016 that I owned before January 1, 2016.  Ebooks that you own count, but you must own the book....No library books.
      1. First Family by David Baldacci
      2. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues #1)
      3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
      4. One False Note by Gordon Korman (39 Clues #2)
      5. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3)
      6. Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
      7. Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson (39 Clues #4)
      8. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3)
      9. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #3)
      10. The Partner by John Grisham
      11. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Maze Runner #2)
      • Achieve a Professional level in the 2016 Prequel and Sequel challenge with 76 - 100 points.  I finished last year with 82 points, so hopefully this year will be similar.  The sign up and description can be found at Novel Heartbeat. (Link Up Quarterly)
        1. First Family - King & Maxwell #4 - 2 points for a sequel 
        2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - Lunar Chronicles #2 - 2 points for a sequel
        3. The Girl Who Played with Fire - Millennium series #2 - 2 points sequel
        4. One False Note by Gordon Korman (39 Clues #2) - 2 points sequel
        5. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3) - 2 points sequel
        6. Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson (39 Clues #4) - 2 points sequel
        7. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (The Naturals #2) - 2 points sequel
        8. The Crown by Kiera Cass (Selection Series #5) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        10. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (MI #3) - 2 points sequel
        11. The Bronze Key by Clare & Black (Magisterium #3) - 2 points sequel
        12. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum #4) - 2 points sequel
        13. All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (The Naturals #3) - 2 points sequel
        14. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Maze Runner #2) - 2 points sequel
        15. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #4_ - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        16. This Girl by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #3) -12 pts (finished series + sequel)
                                                          Total Points = 72
      • Complete 2 half marathons during 2016 - Goal Complete
        1. I ran in the Glass City Half Marathon on April 24th and finished in 2:17:25
        2. I ran the Emerald City Quarter Marathon in 1:02:26
        3. I ran the Columbus Half Marathon on October 16th. Time 2:17:42
      • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Pro status with 16 new releases read/reviewed during 2016.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages.
        1. Shade Me by Jennifer Brown - Release date 1/19/16
        2. 738 Days by Stacey Kade - Release date 6/7/16
        3. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig - Release date 10/4/16
        4. The Crown by Kiera Cass - Release date 5/3/16
        5. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee - Release date 8/30/16
        6. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - Release date 8/2/16
        7. The Bronze Key by Clare & Black - Release date 8/30/2016
        8. For This Life Only by Stacey Kade - Release date 8/30/2016
        9. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - Release date 4/26/16
        10. I picked up a TON of new releases at BEA, so I should make serious headway towards this goal the last half of the year.

      Saturday, November 19, 2016

      Creativity Corner: Adult Coloring


      My 11 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

      This week I completed my second page in the Harry Potter coloring book by Scholastic.  Some of the pages are very detailed and look like they will be quite time consuming, but the pages with the house crests are very manageable.  I tried to make it as true to the original as possible.  You can't really tell in the photo, but there are two different colors of gold used.


      I also completed the first page in the Johanna's Christmas coloring book.  This book is a great way to put someone in the holiday spirit if you are looking for a gift idea.


      Tuesday, November 15, 2016

      Top Ten Movies: Favorite Movies of All Time

      Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten List on something bookish.  Click on the link above if you wish to participate.

      Top Ten All Time Favorite Movies

      Dead Poets Society



      The King's Speech



      The Breakfast Club


      The first 4 movies in the Rocky Series
      I used to love watching these as a kid!

      Image result for rocky 4

      The Harry Potter Series



      The Titanic



      Ferris Bueller's Day Off



      Star Wars Return of the Jedi
      This is the first Star Wars movie I was old enough to see in the theater when it was released.

      Image result for star wars return of the jedi

      ET 



      The Mighty Ducks
      Another series that I loved as a kid.  My son really enjoys this series as well.




      Monday, November 14, 2016

      Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

      The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)

      The Scorch Trials is the second installment in the Maze Runner series.  While I really enjoyed the original book, there was something missing this time around.  The characters now realize they are part of an experiment, what they need to do to survive, and how long it should take them to complete "The Scorch Trials."  The element of surprise was completely eliminated, which removed all of the suspense.  Danger still presents itself in various forms, but I felt like the characters were simply going through the motions to reach the "safe haven."

      We have the same cast of characters, but trust becomes a major issue for Thomas.  WICKED is supposed to be good, but they keep putting them in dangerous situations for no obvious reason.  When things don't go as planned WICKED swoops in to help Thomas, but they place him back in the trials without any explanation.  In addition, Teresa was supposed to be his best friend.  She is taken away and replaced with a boy from "Group B" who can also speak telepathically with him.  The Gladers discover there was another group consisting of all girls and one boy that went through an identical maze experiment.  They are now competing against the other group in addition to simply trying to survive the trials.

      The end of the book did not provide much of a conclusion.  The "scorch trials" are complete, but it is clear there is another book in this series.  The characters aren't provided any more information than what they started with.  They have no idea what WICKED is trying to accomplish or how much longer the trials will continue.  Based on past experience, they can only believe the safe haven is a temporary reprieve and there is more to come. 

      I do not feel like I gained very much from reading this story.  We picked up some additional characters along the way, but Thomas and his friends are in basically the same situation they were in at the end of The Maze Runner.  I am hopeful The Death Cure, which is the final book in the original trilogy, will provide the EPIC conclusion I am looking for.     

      Wednesday, November 9, 2016

      Creativity Corner: Magical Jungle by Johanna Basford


      My 11 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

      Last weekend I completed my first page in Johanna Basford's Magical Jungle.  It is such a great coloring book and I can't wait to start on the next page, but my Johanna's Christmas coloring book arrived last week and I have to add it into the rotation.  I'm already working on the first page in that book :)