Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This was the audio book I listed to while making Banana Nut Caramel Brownies.

Lennie has just lost her sister, has never met her mother and doesn't even know who her father is. She is being raised by her Grandma and Uncle Big (the town lady's man). This is the story of how she begins to live again, how her family heals and how she finds love. It is a love story after all.

I wouldn't often associate the phrase "wordsmith" with lyrical prose rather than witty turns of phrase, but I was really impressed with the phrasing. You should read it just for that, if for no other reason. Or listen to it, I did.

Banana Nut Caramel Brownies

There was snow on the ground, I was listening to a great audio book (The Sky is Everywhere) and I really needed to bake. We had a brownie mix in the pantry, but I decided that was too simple.

So I looked around the kitchen and the pantry and came up with this combination of ingredients: 

A sliced up banana, Rolos, chopped walnuts. and brown sugar. An odd combination, but I know from previous brownies recipes that brown sugar makes everything better and I really wanted something caramely and the Rolos were all I could find. As for the banana and nuts, if they are good together in other things and banana chocolate crepes are delicious, I figured this would be too.

I added the brown sugar to the pan and the bananas and walnuts to one side (Jess won't eat cooked fruit or nuts and it would have been really mean to make this and then not be able to share--plus chocolate gives me headaches and I NEEDED her to eat some of this).

I saved the Rolos to add once the brownies were almost done. I just wanted them to melt a little bit.

Verdict: For Kitchen Sink Brownies these weren't bad. Next time I would incorporate the banana a bit more, leaving them on the top dried them out, and there were a few too many nuts and not enough caramel, but the combination was good. I would try it again sometime.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


So I finally broke down and joined Pinterest this week. It is my new obsession and there are several people out there who I know would love it too.

I've found lots of great program ideas, gift ideas and things I want to make and clutter up the house with (sorry Jess).

You can follow me...just use the button on the right.

Candy Cake

Here is another recipe I borrowed from Recipe Girl. Enough chocolate to leave me in bed with headaches all week. Good think I sent it to work with Jess for her holiday party's baked good competition. It won second place too. Thanks Recipe Girl!

However, I did make a few small variations. First, its obviously Christmas themed. It would appear I used both less cake and fewer M&Ms (I underestimated how many bags I would need--this is two) and it's minty! 

The layer of icing holding the two cakes together is green (and possibly mint flavored, I can't remember at this point--but if I didn't flavor it, that's simply because I ran out of extract. It was holiday baking season after all). Also, the M&Ms are mint flavored and substantially larger than a regular M&M. I think this might have made it harder to eat. I was told the judges found the mint surprising, which must have been a good thing.

I was happy with how it turned out, but I got the impression it was more of a novelty baked good than an I'm craving that so badly baked good. Not yet sure if this is on the "to be repeated" list.

Chomp by Carl Haaisen

I loved this book. Of course, I also love Carl Hiaasen--his adult books and his youth books. This is by far my favorite of his books for Middle Graders. Hiaasen pokes fun at convention, he often uses crude expressions (the language is considerable cleaned up when he is not writing for adults) and no matter the plot, his message is two fold, his love of Florida and his desire to protect that region. Chomp is no exception.

Part mockery of survivalist shows (although, all I could picture was a more egotistical and less knowledgeable Steve Erwin), this is the story of Wahoo who wants to help his family. His Dad's been out of work and his mom's had to take a job out of the country. So when an opportunity presents itself for the Wahoo and his Dad to wrangle the animals of the Everglades on "Expedition Survival" they jump at the opportunity. Wahoo's dad doesn't have any patience for the famous but oblivious Derek Badger who will do anything for ratings. Add his friend Tuna, and you have a rollicking adventure with an assortment of comic and slightly flawed characters.

This one is going to fly off the shelves, I can't wait until it is officially published (expected March 27th) so that I can start pushing it into the hands of the Teens at the library.

ARC provided by Netgalley

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wheels of Change by Sue Macy

Wheels of Change: How Women Road the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy is a wonderfully informative book about the bicycle, the sport of cycling and the women who paved the way for future generations. Everything from changes in fashion, to women's presence outside of the home and in sporting events in the latter half of the 1800's is covered. 

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and that was a hard decision. In terms of layout, images and overall appeal I would give this book 6 or 10 stars out of 5. Each page is appealing, eye catching and certainly not intimidating, even for reluctant readers. The illustrations were poignant, relevant and well worth discussion, even without the text. 

Content wise, I gave it only 4 stars, not because it wasn't interesting, informative or unique in thesis, but because I wanted more. At 91 pages, this book really could have been more. After reading the Forward, and learning about girls in Africa, who because of a bicycle can now attend school, I dove into this books and was disappointed it ended in around 1900. What happened next?

A necessity for school libraries, deserving of a place in the classroom, beautiful and intriguing enough for public libraries. 

And in case I didn't mention it, this book is nominated for the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction for Young Adults.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fluffy Frosting

Over the holidays I discovered delicious fluffy frosting. The secret ingredient is fluff.

Also included is Vegetable Shorting, creamed with a tiny bit of salt, confectioners sugar and a tiny bit of milk--add until right consistency. Add the marshmallow fluff last.

This is that cake I used this frosting on. A snowman for the holidays, but tinted a fun color it was great on  New Year's cupcakes too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ahead of Goal?!

Day 6 and I'm two books (1%) ahead! I wonder if I'll ever see this message again? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Reading In Review

So for a statistical look at my 2011 reading list look at the handy charts Jess helped me make. Out of the 250 books I read last year you can see how many were Young Adult, Juvenile, J/YA Crossover or written for Adults.

And now for that same information portrayed by percentages. 

And for the other information I somehow find relevant: Non-Fiction, Graphic Novels and Audio. 

So what I have learned is that I had a very strong bias in my 2011 reading choices. Next year I want to lessen that. More Non-Fiction! Maybe a couple more books geared towards adults. And, I still want to read graphic novels. I enjoyed a couple of the ones I read during the year any my 37 book December stretch and I think its important to know that collection (the same needs to be said for non-fiction).

For those of you non-Goodreads users, below is the list of books I read in 2011. You get to guess on the age group and format.


Wicked Appetite

Janet Evanovich
2 Bait Alex Sanchez
3 City of Bones Cassandra Clare
4 The Devil's Paintbox Victoria McKernan
5 Please Ignore Vera Dietz A.S. King
6 Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature Robin Brande
7 Annexed Sharon Dogar
8 The Killing Sea Richard Lewis
9 Shooting Star Fredrick McKissak
10 Marcelo in the Real World Francisco X. Stork
11 Countdown Deborah Wiles
12 The Doom Machine Mark Teague
13 The Maze Runner James Dashner
14 Jumpstart the World Catherine Ryan Hyde
15 The Rock and the River Kekla Magoon
16 Jumped Rita Williams-Garcia
17 The Grimm Legacy Polly Shulman
18 The Other Half of my Heart Sundee T. Frazier
1 Extra Credit Andrew Clements
20 Across the Universe Beth Ravis
21 Dying to Meet You Kate Klise
22 Almost Perfect Brian Katcher
23 City of Ashes Cassandra Clare
24 Signal Cynthia DeFelice
25 War Games Audry Coulumbis
26 North of Beautiful Justina Chen Headley
27 Troublemaker Janet Evanovich
28 Herbert's Wormhole Peter Nelson
29 Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance Emily Franklin
30 One Crazy Summer Rita Williams-Garcia
31 Hex Hall Rachel Hawkins
32 Franny Parker Hannah Roberts McKinnon
33 Forgive My Fins Tera Lynn Childs
34 The Rivalry: Mystery at the Army-Navy Game John Feinstein
35 The Gollywhopper Games Jody Feldman
36 Knifepoint Alex Van Tol
37 Metro Girl Janet Evanovich
38 A Long Walk to Water Linda Sue Park
39 City of Glass Cassandra Clare
40 I am Number Four Pittacus Lore
41 All the Broken Pieces Ann E. Burg
42 Savvy Ingrid Law
43 Where the Streets Had A Name Randa Abdel-Fattah
44 Shutout Brendan Halpin
45 Slick Sarah Cassidy
46 Cloaked in Red Vivian Vande Velde
47 The Gril Who Could Fly Victoria Foster
48 Jump Elisa Carbone 
49 Demonglass Rachel Hawkins
50 The Scorch Trials James Dashner
51 Delirium Lauren Oliver
52 Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder Joanne Fluke
53 Scumble Ingrid Law
54 The Latte Rebellion Sarah Jamila Stevenson
55 Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture Peggy Orenstein
56 Strawberry Shortcake Murder Joanne Fluke
57 Trash Andy Mulligan
58 Windows on the World Andrea White
59 The Book of Trees Leanne Lieberman
60 Blueberry Muffin Murder Joanne Fluke
61 Scrawl Mark Shulman
62 Ostrich Boys Keith Gray
63 Mr. Monk on the Road Lee Goldberg
64 I am J Chris Beam
65 Ship Breaker Paolo Bacigalupi
66 Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats Bakerella
67 Lemon Meringue Pie Murder Joanne Fluke
68 Cate of the Lost Colony Lisa M. Klein
69 The Running Dream Wendelin Van Draanen
70 The Cardturner: A Novel about a King, a Queen and a Joker Louis Sachar
71 Reckless Cornelia Funke
72 Riot Walter Dean Myers
73 The Fudge Cupcake Murder Joanne Fluke
74 How Reading Changed My Life Anna Quindlen
75 Clockwork Angel Cassandra Clare
76 Take Me To the River Will Hobbs
77 The Peach Kepper Sarah Addison Allen
78 Swin the Fly Don Calame
79 Sugar Cookie Murder Joanne Fluke
80 How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy Crystal Allen
81 Peach Cobbler Murder Joanne Fluke
82 The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Maryrose Wood
83 Secret Saturdays Torrey Maldonado
84 The Hidden Gallery Maryrose Wood
85 Infinite Days Rebecca Maizel
86 The Fourth Stall Chris Rylander
87 Deep and Dark and Dangerous Mary Downing Hahn
88 Bounce Natasha Friend
89 The Sheperd's Tale Zack Wedon
90 Cleopatra Stacy Schiff
91 The Search for Wondla Tony DiTerlizzi
92 Binky to the Rescue Ashley Spires
93 Binky the Space Cat Ashley Spires
94 Calli Jessica Lee Anderson
95 Masked Norah McClintock
96 Better Days Joss Wedon
97 Aliens on Vacation Clete Barrett Smith
98 Clarity Kim Harrington
99 The Emerald Atlas John Stephens
100 Dead Reckoning Charlaine Harris
101 Tuesdays at the Castle Jessica Day George
102 Rot & Ruin Jonathan Maberry
103 Cherry Cheescake Murder Joanne Fluke
104 City of Fallen Angels Cassandra Clare
105 The Queen of Water Laura Resau
106 Save Me Lisa Scottoline
107 Shine Lauren Myracle
108 The Things a Brother Knows Dana Reinhardt
109 The Trouble with a Half a Moon Danette Vigilante
110 How to Survive Middle School Dana Gephart
111 Cruel Love Kate Brian
112 Crossing Stones Helen Frost
113 The Eleventh Plague Jeff Hirsch
114 The Great Death John E. Smelcer
115 Forever Maggie Stiefvater
116 Three Rivers Rising Jame Richards
117 The Throne of Fire Rick Riordan
118 Cool Girls Quilt: More Than 15 Fresh, Fun and Funky Projects Linda Lum Debono
119 How to Ditch Your Fairy Justine Larbalestier
120 Beautiful Creatures Kami Garcia
121 Wish Joseph Monninger
122 Slob Ellen Porter
123 Hidden Helen Frost
124 Wonderstruck Brian Selznick
125 The Everything Baby Shower Book Jennifer Jenkins
126 Uncommon Criminals Ally Carter
127 The Dead Boys Royce Buckingham
128 Alchemy and Meggy Swann Karen Cushman
129 Boyfriends with Girlfriends Alex Sanchez
130 A Stolen Life  Jaycee Dugard
131 Over My Dead Body Kate Klise
132 My Life Undecided Jessica Brody
133 Bystander James Preller
134 Ninth Ward Jewell Parker Rhodes
135 Grace Elizabeth Scott
136 Between Shades of Gray Ruta Sepetys
137 The Accidental Genius of Weasel High Rick Detoire
138 Close to Famous Joan Bauer
139 Bras & Broomsticks Sarah Mlynowski
140 Smokin' Seventeen Janet Evanovich
141 All These Things I've Done Gabrielle Zevin
142 Dead End in Norvelt Jack Gantos
143 Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor
144 Virals Kathy Reichs
145 Is It Night or Day Fern Schumer Chapman
146 Chomp Carl Hiaasen
147 Stuck on Earth Davis Klass
148 Home Invasion Monique Polak
149 The Power of Six Pittacus Lore
150 Till Death Do Us Bark Kate Klise
151 Jane  April Lindner
152 Box Out John Coy
153 Paranormalcy Kiesten White
154 Notes from the Blender Trish Cook
155 Bewitching Season Marissa Doyle
156 Queen of the Dead Stacey Kade
157 A Countess Below Stairs Eva Ibbotson
158 Chosen Ones Alister E. McGrath
159 Darkness Shall Fall Alister E. McGrath
160 Famous Todd Strasser
161 The Water Wars Cameron Stracher
162 Wrapped Jennifer Bradbury
163 Pink Lili Wilkinson
164 Raised by Wolves Jennifer Lynn Barnes
165 Half Brother  Kenneth Oppel
166 Rival Sara Bennett Wealer
167 Revolution Jennifer Donnelly
168 Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone J.K. Rowling
169 Identical Ellen Hopkins
170 Rescuing Seneca Crane Susan Runholt
171 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling
172 Radiance Alyson Noel
173 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban J.K. Rowling
174 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling
175 Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix J.K. Rowling
176 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince J.K. Rowling
177 Throne of Fire Rick Riordan
178 Trapped Michael Northrop
179 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J.K. Rowling
180 Wisdom's Kiss Catherine Gilbert Murdock
181 Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Lish McBride
182 The Always War Margaret Peterson Haddix
183 Enthusiasm Polly Shulman
184 Trial by Fire Jennifer Lynn Barnes
185 Binky Under Pressure Ashley Spires
186 Shot in the Buff, Murder in a Nudist Camp Joan Dash
187 She Loves You, She Loves You Not Julie Anne Peters
188 What Happened to Goodbye Sarah Dessen
189 Prized Caragh O'Brien
190 My Life as a Book Janet Tashjian
191 Powerless Matthew Cody
192 A Tale Dark and Grimm Adam Gidwitz
193 The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg Rodman Philbrick
194 Dreams of Significant Girls Cristina Garcia
195 Baseball Great Tim Green
196 I am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six's Legacy Pittacus Lore
197 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Grace Lin
198 Born to Fly Michael Ferrari
199 Because of Mr. Terupt Rob Buyea
200 Fins are Forever Tera Lynn Childs
201 Dust and Decay Jonathan Maberry
202 Wither Lauren DeStefano
203 The Wonder of Charlie Anne Kimberly Newton Fusco
204 Girl, Stolen April Henry
205 The Son of Neptune Rick Riordan
206 My Life in Pink and Green Lisa Greenwald
207 Akata Witch Nnedi Okorafor
208 Explosive Eighteen Janet Evanovich
209 Stir It Up Ramin Ganeshram
210 Fracture Megan Miranda
211 The Lady of the Rivers Philippa Gregory
212 For Keeps Natasha Friend
213 Divergent Veronica Roth
214 Hooked Catherine Greenman
215 Crossed Ally Condie
216 Drowning Instinct Ilsa J. Bick
217 Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty G. Neri
218 A Monster Calls Patrick Ness
219 Tortured Caragh O'Brien
220 Snow in Summer: The Tale of an American Snow White Jane Yolen
221 Kin Holly Black
222 Au Revoir, Crazy Eurpean Chick Joe Schreiber
223 The Girl is Murder Kathryn Miller Hynes
224 Kith Holly Black
225 Tatto Jennifer Lynn Barnes
226 Birdhouse Vernon White
227 Green Witch Alice Hoffman
228 Kind Holly Black
229 Sweet Evil Wendy Higgins
230 The Death Cure James Dashner
231 The Book of the Maidservant Rebecca Barnhouse
232 Where I Belong Gillian Cross
233 Double Eagle B. Collard Sneed, III
234 Missouri Boy Leland Myrick
235 Tales of the Vampires Joss Wedon
236 A Brief History of Montmaray Michelle Cooper
237 The FitzOsbornes in Exile Michelle Cooper
238 Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Brandon Sanderson
239 The Plain Janes Cecil Castellucci
240 Clubbing Andi Watson
241 Liar  Justine Larbalestier
242 Illegal Bettina Restrepo
243 Fractured Fables Jim Valentino
244 Nowhere Girl A.J. Paquette
245 My Faith in Frankie Mike Carey
246 Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Marjane Satrapi
247 Love in a Nutshell Janet Evanovich
248 Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return Marjane Satrapi
249 Skim Mariko Tamaki
250 The 100 Best Affortable Vacations Jane Wooldridge

2012 Goodreads Reading Challenge

Just because I said I was going to read fewer books this year, doesn't mean that I'm not going to set my sights high. My reading goal for 2012 is 225 books. However, that is a soft goal. If I can reach it by October-ish, I may try to up it to 250. But, I want to have time to accomplish a few more things this year, and maybe participate in NaNoWriMo. Its January 4th, and I've already read 3 books. I might just make it.

I'm also challenging the teens at my library to set their own reading goals for 2012. And to keep with it, we are going to have a big celebration for those that meet their goals. I'm really excited about it.

2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge Complete!

I did it, I read 250 books in 2011. And yes, it was more difficult than I want to admit.

37 of those books were read in December. That is an awful lot while trying to prepare for Christmas, Christmas Eve and the post Christmas family party. And yes I had to read many graphic novels and listen to audio books while frantically baking and cleaning the house. (Nothing is better than baking while listening to an audiobook!)

I'm proud I managed, but next year I can't fall behind during the summer, and I need to not have that pressure during the holidays and I'm going to set my sights lower, at least for one year.