Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Annual End of Year Book Survey – 2014

Happy New Year! (Almost.)  For the past few years I've been doing the End of the Year Book Survey from Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner.  I've always enjoyed the questions and felt that it is a real reflection on my reading for the past year.

This year, I'm going to try not to repeat myself too much.  So, no matter how much I loved The Raven Cycle and Alias Grace, I will try not to only answer the questions with those books. 

Here we go!

Number Of Books You Read: 53
Number of Re-Reads: 1 (I don't re-read a lot.)
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (of various forms)


 1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
It's a tie between Binu and the Great Wall, by Su Tong and The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
The Fall (The Strain #2), by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan - The ending was just.... whoa.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
I  don't know if anyone actually read these books, but it's a toss-up between Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle books and Atwood's Alias Grace.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
a) Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
b) Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater.
c) Champion, by Marie Lu

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I couldn't pick just one! Scott Westerfeld, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Look of Love, by Bella Andre - A Romance novel.  I don't typically read romance novels, but this one was just so sweet and well written. I might read more by Andre in the future.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Lock In, by John Scalzi

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I don't tend to re-read books I read just the year before, but if I were to pick one it would be, The Raven Cycle books.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Friend of My Youth, by Alice Munro

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I don't know if it changed my life, but it was definitely thought provoking.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
It's a tie between Friend of My Youth, by Alice Munro and Animal Farm, by George Orwell

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
I don't typically record quotes/passages from books.  I get too lost in the story.  I did manage to write down the most famous quote from Animal Farm though:  "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others."
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: UR, by Stephen King (61pgs)
Longest: City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare (725pgs)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Requiem, by Lauren Oliver - The ending was just.... Bam! Then it was over.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
I'm so old... I had to look this one up. - Can I use my answer to #19? In general, though, I'm pretty happy with the pairings the authors created in the books I read this year... Though a couple of them cheated, in my opinion, using death instead of having the main character make a choice.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Adam and Ronan from The Raven Cycle.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Alias Grace (and Lock In.)

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Thousand Orcs, by R.A. Salvatore (My Hubby wants me to catch up to him with his favourite series.  I'm only about halfway there though.)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
The Raven Boys, all of them.  They are so too young for me, but I just adore them.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I don't think I read any 2014 debuts.  They were either previously published authors or the book was published in 2013 and I just waited a long time before reading it.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
I don't know if any books actually crushed my soul, but Champion, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and Requiem all came close.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
A tie between Animal Farm, by George Orwell and Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Lone Drow, by R.A. Salvatore - Drizzt just refused to go the Mithral Hall. If he did that he would have saved himself a lot of brooding and heartache.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
I don't know.... randomly: Fool, by Christopher Moore

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Realizing the status of the diversity in my reading.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters had by far the most views.
Animal Farm had the most comments.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Umm... that being unemployed means more reading time?

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I set a modest Goodreads goal this year, which I surpassed, by a lot.  See previous question for why
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
The Diviners, by Libba Bray

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
The Raven Cycle #4, by Maggie Stiefvater

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Umm.... none?

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
The Raven Cycle #4, by Maggie Stiefvater

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Read more classics.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
None.  I wish I had something, but nope.
Thanks for stopping by my year in review!  It's been a great year in reading for me.  I can't wait to see what wonderful books 2015 brings!
- See more at:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Simple Peanut Butter Granola

Mmm.... crunchy granola on sweet, cold yogurt.  I'm hungry.  So hungry, in fact, upon realizing that I was out of granola while writing this post, I threw a fresh batch into the oven. 
It's super easy to make:

2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
1 cup oats

Heat the oven to 350.
Mix the maple syrup and peanut butter together.
Add the oats.
Spead onto baking sheet.
Cook for 8 minutes, stir.
Cook for about 8 minutes.

Doesn't it look good?  I store it in these nice jars, so I can see how yummy it is whenever I want.  It's healthy too, right? 

Guess where I found this super simple recipe?  The back of a peanut butter jar label!  One day, Kraft All Natural Peanut Butter was on sale, so I thought I'd try it.  Reading the back of the label, because I usually read the labels of the things that I buy, I saw a recipe for granola topped fruit crisp (FYI, in that recipe I've used a mixture of apples, peaches and pears; I've never actually used the apples it calls for, still yummy.).  After making that recipe twice, I thought that the granola topping itself might taste good mixed with yogurt.  I was right.  Now this simple granola is something I make fairly regularly. It's just that perfect bit of crunch that yogurt sometimes needs.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Is everything really Dr. Cable's fault? If she had left Tally alone, let her turn pretty, would any of this have happened? Part of me feels sorry for Cable. Umm, not really. I do understand the need to have her work continue though.  Also, Cable and Tally's city seems to be the most extreme of all the cities, so maybe it was just a matter time.

Specials is the final book in the story of Tally Youngblood, I think. From what I understand, the series was completed as a trilogy, but then Scott Westerfeld felt another book had to be written.  I wonder what it'll be about and I hope I get to find out something more about Tally.  I loved Tally Youngblood.  I loved all the revelations about the city.  I thought the end was fantastic.  I was sad about some things, but satisfied with others.  I like how everything ended up with Shay and the Cutters.  I like what happened with David.  I really liked Diego.  If there was no other books, I would count Specials as a satisfying end to the Uglies series.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Buddha's Hand - It's a Fruit!

One day on Twitter I saw a post by John (@bookmineset) showcasing a very interesting fruit. It was almost a year ago. The below conversation happened.
A snippet.

I never forgot the curious looking fruit.  It was always lurking there in the back of my mind.  Plus, I love to try new things.  One day last week, I was in my local Metro and came across a Buddha's hand.

I couldn't resist buying it, even though it was the most expensive produce on that display. $4.99 for that thing! I looked on the the internet (because that's where I look when I don't know something) for a way to prepare Buddha's hand. There were two that appealed to me. One was using it to infuse gin. The other was sautéeing it in garlic and olive oil (the suggestion is in the comments). I chose the second because that was an option I could share with my family.
This is the Buddha's Hand before I cut it.

After I cut the fingers off.

Sliced thinly, ready to be put in the pan. There's no pulp!

Frying garlic, because who doesn't love fried garlic in olive oil.

Throw in the sliced Buddha's Hand with the browned garlic.  It smelled so good.

Looks good with the green beans.
I should have added the Buddha's hand at the same time as the green beans. The Buddha's hand was definitely overcooked. The bitterness of the rind seeped into the flavour of the beans and made the actual slices of the Buddha's hand almost inedible. I also maybe should have peeled the rind off, but the website didn't tell me to do that, so I didn't. It ended up being a bit of a fail.

I did eat some of it raw, so I knew the flavour of the ingredient I was working with (something I recommend). It tasted nice, mild and lemony. The most surprising bit was that there was no pulp. I didn't expect a citrus fruit to be pulpless.  

I'd like to use Buddha's hand again, but I'm not sure when or how. It is pretty expensive just to be experimenting with, especially when, during that same shopping trip, I bought four limes for a dollar. Though the dish didn't turn out great, I learned some things about buddha's hand and maybe about citrus in general. 
One idea I had, for fun, is to do a gin or vodka infusion, with the fingers floating around in the bottle.  Too weird?  Or creepily fun.