It’s autumn baking time!

Several of the food-related blogs I follow/pins that pop up on my Pinterest are way into the healthy eating thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it really does seem like a lot of people are pushing for “clean” eating and gluten free and eliminating everything resembling sugar from one’s diet. I know that there’s some people who have to live that way for health reasons– my mom is one of them. But it’s hard sometimes to not be made to feel guilty if you’re not overhauling your entire diet to match these trends. I’m realizing that a better approach for me is baby steps and moderation. While cutting back would probably be good, I’m not at a point where I’m ready to, or even have a desire to, cut sugar and gluten completely out of my life.

That being said, I’m feeling pretty good about the dessert I made for my family gathering at my grandmother’s house today. The majority of my mom’s side of the family definitely has a sweet tooth, and when we get together, there’s usually plenty of desserts to pick from. And now that it’s unofficially fall, though not quite late enough in the season for the really good pie apples, I figured that kicking off pumpkin everything season would be the way to go. I tried this Pinterest recipe out last fall, so I know it’s good. And since it has pumpkin and all of the flour is whole wheat, I feel like this can be considered relatively healthy.

You can find the recipe for this chocolate chip pumpkin bread on recipegirl.com. And it was pretty easy to make!

All of the ingredients, minus the butter. I let that soften so long that it was starting to ooze onto the stovetop, so I just dumped that in my mixer bowl instead.

See that one random brown egg? I had to steal it from my mom–I went ahead and doubled the recipe, so I could use up the entire can of pumpkin. (It’s about half a cup short of what the recipe calls for, but it’s also hard to use up 2/3 of a can of pumpkin, so I was willing to make the trade.) But that left me one egg short, and I don’t use up eggs quickly enough to buy another half-dozen for just one egg.

The other nice thing about doubling the recipe is that I was also able to use the entire bag of chocolate chips. Of course, I needed to use the entire bag in the bread, so I didn’t have any left to sprinkle on top of the bread. So I grated a little piece of a candy bar that I had in the fridge on top of it. It melted right into the bread, so we’ll see if it makes any difference or not. But still–yay for no partially used bags of chips that aren’t even full enough to make cookies!

And here’s what they looked like after baking. Yum. I’m bringing the second loaf to Bible study tomorrow night, since we usually do a potluck-style dinner and Sunday afternoon rehearsals usually leave me scrambling to see what I can find already prepared at the grocery store. But I’ll be quite happy to eat any leftovers from both loaves for breakfast this week. If there are any leftovers. This one was pretty popular the last time I brought it to Bible study.

Books 37-39

As of writing this post, this catches me up again. Hurrah!

Title: Griffin’s Daughter (#37)

Author: Leslie Ann Moore

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Length: 334 pages

Read: 8/28-9/1/14

Summary: From Amazon: Seventeen year old Jelena Preseren has lived her entire life as a social outcast because of her mixed human and elven blood. She labors as a servant in the household of her uncle, the powerful Duke of Amsara. When her uncle tells her she is to be sold as a concubine to his wealthy neighbor, rather than submit, Jelena makes the decision to flee and strike out into the unknown on a quest to find her elven father. Accompanied by her human cousin, Jelena’s journey takes her to a strange and beautiful land whose people live in the shadow of impending war. There, she encounters a fate she never anticipated—one of magic, danger, and most startling of all, true love.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? It was a previously-bought Kindle freebie. At the time, I just wanted a quick airplane read that my brain could handle at 6 AM. If I hadn’t been distracted by the amazing time that was DragonCon, it would have been done sooner.

Rating: 2.5/5

Would I read it again? No

Other notes: There were elements of this story that I found interesting, like dealing with the different racial tensions and the description of elven culture, which had more of an obvious Asian influence than what I often read. But the foreshadowing was about as subtle as a freight train, which meant that there were very few surprises in the plot. I also couldn’t help reading this through the lens of wondering if it was something I could recommend to a friend’s teenage daughter, since I do have at least one in my circle of friends, and her daughter loves to read fantasy stuff. Given the extremely permissive view/glorification of premarital sex portrayed in this book, it’s not something I would feel comfortable suggesting to any girl at my church. There was also a rather graphic sex scene (surprisingly so for me, given the intended audience and the fact that the raciest reading I did as a young teen was Sweet Valley High). Yes, I know many teenagers do this sort of thing, but it really doesn’t have to be described in nitty-gritty detail of who touches who where and how, and this is possibly the only time I will compare something to a Stephanie Meyer book and have Bella and Edward come out on top. Because yeah, they did stuff, but at least she had the decency to leave the details to the imagination. (Also, they were married by that time anyway.) Ok, rant over.

Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars (#38)

Author: Diana Peterfreund

Genre: YA/Sci-fi/Romance

Length: 448 pages

Read: 9/1/14 (another one-day read, because I had airport/flying time.)

Summary: Somewhat based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. From Amazon: “

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology. Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go. But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.”

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? The author was at DragonCon, and is a friend of a friend. So I bought this and another one of her books at Faith’s recommendation. (And got them signed!)

Rating: 5/5

Would I read it again? Yes

Other notes: While it definitely bore a resemblance to Persuasion, it had its differences, too– Elliot was a much stronger person than Anne, for one. The portrait of her society was crafted well, and left me wanting to know more about the Reduction. And I would feel much more confident in recommending this to the teenage girls in my life than the previous book.

Title: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

Author: Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

Genre: Fiction/Romance (sort of)

Length: 377 pages

Read: 9/2-9/4/14

Summary: A companion to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series, based on Pride & Prejudice.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? Because I loved the LBD, so I impulse-bought this at the bookstore recently.

Rating: 5/5

Would I read it again? Yes, though when I have time to take it slower so I can re-watch the videos in conjunction with this.

Other notes: I’ll admit it was better than I thought it would be– I was half-expecting your typical film-to-book novelization, where the story is retold on the page. It was that to some extent, but a lot more of things that you don’t see in the videos. It was particularly good to see more of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, since they only show up in the “costume theater” portions, and some of the off-camera interactions. Like Darcy’s letter, and every awkward dance scene, and the list of what makes an accomplished woman. I should have had more faith in you, Mr. Su.

Books 34-36

Continuing my catch-up.

 

Title: Tell Your Time (#34)

Author: Amy Lynn Andrews

Genre: Non-fiction/Self-help

Length: 30 pages

Read: 8/21/14

Summary: Another time management book

New or re-read? I think I may have skimmed it once, but let’s say new read just in case.

Why did I pick it up? a) It was part of an e-book bundle that I bought, and b) I still suck at time management.

Rating: 5/5

Would I read it again? Yes

Other notes: Out of the 3 time management books I’ve read recently, this one made the most sense to me and seemed to be the easiest to work into my own life. I’m going to have to go through this one more in-depth and actually go through the exercises (hey, something else to blog about!), but I read it in one sitting because I finished Master of Verona and still had time to kill at work.

Title: The Giver (#35)

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: Children’s Lit/Sci-Fi

Length: My copy is 179 pages.

Read: 8/22/14

Summary: Everyone in 12-year-old Jonas’s community has a place, and everyone seems content to leave it that way. But when Jonas is chosen to be the new Keeper of Memory and begins spending time with a man he knows only as The Giver, he learns the truth about his world and it will change him forever.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? One of my favorite childhood books was Lowry’s Number the Stars, so I picked this one up awhile ago. I just never got around to reading it, but figured I’d better do it soon before hearing about the movie spoiled the ending for me.

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Probably.

Other notes: Yes, I read this in one day. It was a very quick read.

Title: Death Comes To Pemberley

Author:  P.D. James

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

Length: 291 pages

Read: 8/25-8/26/14

Summary: A continuation of Pride & Prejudice, where Captain Denney is found dead, presumably murdered, in the woods near Pemberley. And George Wickham is the #1 suspect.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? Because, as stated before, I am a sucker for all things Austen-esque.

Rating: 5/5. The book did keep me guessing, which is always a good thing with a murder mystery.

Would I read it again? Yes, though I’d probably wait awhile. The problem with mysteries is that you always know whodunit when you re-read them.

Other notes: Oddly, I ended up having the opportunity to watch the mini-series with some friends later that same week. There were some definite changes from the book to film, mostly a condensing of characters, but I thought it was a well-done adaptation. Even if Darcy wasn’t Colin Firth.

Books #32-33

 

 

 

I’ve fallen behind a little bit in the last couple of weeks, so I’m going to do two books in today’s post. Here’s #32 to start.

Title: Wildwood

Author: Colin Meloy

Genre: Fiction/Children’s

Length: 576 pages

Read: early to mid-August

Summary: A girl named Prue and her classmate Curtis discover a magical world in the wilderness near their Portland home, when they go to rescue Prue’s baby brother from the murder of crows that kidnapped him from the park.

New or re-read? New read.

Why did I pick it up? I enjoy listening to The Decemberists’ music, so naturally, I was interested in reading another story by their main songwriter.

Rating: 5/5

Would I read it again? Yes.

Other notes: Much of what I enjoy about the music is that their songs tell stories, and often use less common vocabulary words. Reading this felt pretty much like that, except in prose. Since this book is aimed at children, nice English lesson!

And #33.

Title: The Master of Verona

Author: David Blixt

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 562 pages

Read: Mid-August

Summary: From Amazon: “A sweeping novel of Renaissance Italy, THE MASTER OF VERONA follows Pietro Alaghieri, eldest son of the poet Dante, as he’s caught up by the charisma and genius of Verona’s ruler, Cangrande della Scala. Pietro risks battles, duels, and murder to impress his new lord. At the heart of the story is an infernal plot against Cangrande’s bastard heir, and the rivalry of two friends over the affections of a girl – a rivalry will sever a friendship, divide a city, and spark a feud that will someday produce the star-cross’d lovers.

Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, THE MASTER OF VERONA is a novel of brutal warfare, lost friendship, and dire conspiracy, combining to create an epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance.”

New or re-read? New read.

Why did I pick it up? It was free for the Kindle at the time, and I was intrigued by the idea of combining actual historic character’s with Shakespeare’s. (Yes, those two friends sparking the feuds are based on the Capulets and Montagues, though they’re called Capuletto and Montecchio in the book.)

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Probably not, though I know there’s at least 2 sequels to this, and I would happily continue on with the series.

Other notes:  This one isn’t necessarily good for the faint of stomach, since it does go into some rather gritty descriptions of medieval warfare. But, having read most of the Divine Comedy before, I did enjoy how Dante’s writing of that wove into the plot, as well as the cameos from other familiar Shakespearean characters, like Katherine and Petruccio. (That’s not a spoiler, since they’re listed among the cast of characters in the beginning of the book.)

 

Building Bookshelves

I didn’t want this to be entirely a blog about books, although obviously the written word is something I enjoy. I realized recently that I’ve completely lost track of those 14 goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year, and I don’t want to completely throw in the towel on this project. (Oh, hi, goal #7 that says “finish what I start!”) The intelligent thing to do would be to pick up this project in earnest again in about a month, because I have two out of town trips coming up within the next 4 weeks, and I know that much of this time is going to be getting ready for those. But it still doesn’t hurt to do what I can now, so I wanted to highlight a recent project that my husband and I did together that touches on several of those goals.

In brief, we built a bookshelf. And, despite what a lot of the stereotypes say about doing home improvement projects with your significant other, we didn’t fight about it!

IMG_1522This is what we started with–the middle bookshelf was the one I brought from home, and the other two are just cheap bookshelves from Target. He already had the one, and we bought a second one when I was moving my stuff in, because I more or less quadrupled the number of books he had in the house. (I’m really not exaggerating.) It was working, but since the Mister is very big on having things streamlined, organized, and as efficient as possible, he hasn’t been very happy with this setup. But then a month or so ago, we were hanging out with some friends at my bestie’s new place for some board gaming, and he spotted her bookshelves and pretty much fell in love with them. They’re simple, just a series of stacked boards and skinny cinder blocks that she’s had since well before I knew her. If I’d known he would have liked them so much, I probably would have told him about them sooner! But it didn’t take him long to decide that he wanted to recreate this look at our place.

Some hilarity ensued in the form of us driving up to just outside Philadelphia to load down the trunk of his car with cinder blocks, because it was the only place we could find anything similar to what she has, driving around with them all day because we already had a couple of other commitments, and then hauling 32 bricks into our house when we finally got home that night. We decided to make things more complicated for ourselves, too, by staining the bricks and painting the boards. I’m not sorry, because I like the way the colors turned out.

IMG_1523This is what we ended up with! It took pretty much all of last Saturday morning to build them, because we were taking safety precautions like anchoring the boards to the wall every few boards up. Plus we had to move all of the books, and figure out what to do with a few other things that were on the shelves. (Mostly my scrapbooks.) We also ended up completely reorganizing the books when we put them back–some of them are categorized, like we have the children’s books and all of our Christian-ish books and his finance books separated out, but aside from that, everything’s alphabetized and much, much neater than when it started. There are some gaps, like where my Empty Shelf books/Dresden Files books that are currently on loan to my sister-in-law go, and the Mister ended up shuffling a few shelves around so that all of the fiction could be together on the left side since I took this picture. But he’s much happier, and I have to admit that it’s going to be much easier to find what I want to read next!

IMG_1524The Empty Shelf has a new home, too–we had leftover bricks and he had measured it out well enough to know we’d have some extra space, so he built a mini-bookshelf to go near the corner. So the top shelf of that is where all the books that we’ve both read this year are currently residing–he’s informally playing along, which I think is great, because it means he’s reading more too! And then we have things like my music-related books and travel books beneath that.

We’d originally thought to maybe try to sell the cheap bookshelves on Craigslist or something. But then, in the spirit of trying to use what we have, he had the idea to use the adjustable shelves to reinforce the wire shelves in the kitchen pantry that he doesn’t like. My original larger bookshelf is currently residing in our basement, and holding most of the scrapbooks (except the green and blue ones in the above picture, which are the ones I’ve been putting together for the time since we’ve been married. The green one is our first year and is mostly finished, while the blue one is for year 2 and barely has anything in it, given that I haven’t printed any pictures since May. I figured it would be better to wait and do one bigger order after the trips to cut down on shipping, so…)

So, yeah– organization, quality time with my husband, doing something kind of creative, and finishing a project all in one! I think altogether, it cost us about $200 in supplies, which sounds like a lot. But considering that the particle board shelves were already bending under the weight of the books after only a year, and that this is a shelf we can easily disassemble and take with us wherever we end up living next, we both agree that it was a worthwhile project.

Book #31: Frankenstein

Title: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

Genre: Fiction/Classics

Length: 134 pages

Read: around 7/28- 8/1

Summary: The tragic tale of an obsessive genius, the monster he brought to life, and the ruin and chaos created in both of their lives as a result.

New or re-read? Re-read

Why did I pick it up? I hadn’t read this one since high school, and wanted a refresher on the story before the new Pemberly Digital show comes out.

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Yes.

Other notes: I’m glad I did re-read this one, because there’s a lot that I’d forgotten. Understandable, I suppose, since it had been well over a decade since we studied this one in English class. I honestly had to look the book up on Wikipedia when I first started it, because I completely forgot about the frame narration and thought I’d somehow downloaded the wrong free book onto my Kindle! I forgot how much of the book was philosophy rather than action. And I’m really curious to see how PD will adapt this for a modern setting now, especially after seeing the casting. (There’s a character who looks like it’s a take on Igor, who is apparently completely a movie invention. So I’m thinking it might be somewhat of a book-movie hybrid adaption.)

 

I feel like there’s a lot of things aside from books that I’d like to post about, so hopefully I can actually make that happen at some point, too.

Books #27-30

I’m going to do these slightly out of order, since it just makes sense to do 27 and 29 together.

 

Titles: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars/The Empire Striketh Back

Author: Ian Doescher

Genre: Sci-fi. I’d also say parody, but it’s a very respectful one, so that word doesn’t quite seem to fit.

Length: 176 pages apiece

Read: late June- finished the second one 7/17.

Summary: The original Star Wars trilogy, if Shakespeare had written it. (Parts 1 and 2, anyway.)

New or re-read? New read for both.

Why did I pick it up? Because the idea was too hilarious to me not to!

Rating: 5/5

Would I read it again? Absolutely. I’d also love to see this performed sometime–are you listening, internet?

Other notes: I actually read part of the first one last year, when my best friend and I were killing time before our state’s annual outdoor Shakespeare performance. We had a great time taking different parts and reading it aloud! Also, this could be a really great way to introduce kids to Shakespeare–take a story they understand, help them see that the language isn’t really that much of a barrier, and then move on to the real thing. Kudos to you, Mr. Doescher.

Title: Longbourn

Author: Jo Baker

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 353

Read: early July

Summary: A loose retelling of Pride & Prejudice, from the perspective of the servants.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? Because I am a sucker for anything connected to Jane Austen. Especially P&P.

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Yes, though not as often as I’d re-read the original story.

Other notes: a) This is a great book to be reading while doing a heavy house-cleaning. There’s nothing like reading about chamber pots and having to shovel out the outhouse to make you appreciate the relative ease of cleaning a modern toilet. b) The main servant girl that this book focused on really didn’t seem to care much for Elizabeth–though I guess it would be easy to be bitter if you were the one who had to wash her petticoats after her long walks. c) This was so much grittier than anything Austen ever wrote, but I guess that makes sense with the focus on the lower class of the time period. d) It was rather refreshing to see such a different take on it. And I’ve read a lot of retellings/sequels to P&P. Probably more than is healthy. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop.

Title: Dragon Sword and Wind Child

Author: Noriko Ogiwara

Genre: Fantasy/Mythology

Length: 263 pages

Read: 7/18-7/23/14

Summary: From Amazon: The God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness have waged a ruthless war across the land of Toyoashihara for generations. But for fifteen-year-old Saya, the war is far away—until the day she discovers that she is the reincarnation of the Water Maiden and a princess of the Children of the Dark.  Raised to love the Light and detest the Dark, Saya must come to terms with her heritage even as the Light and Dark both seek to claim her, for she is the only mortal who an awaken the legendary Dragon Sword, the weapon destined to bring an end to the war. Can Saya make the choice between the Light and Dark, or is she doomed—like all the Water Maidens who came before her…?

New or re-read? New read.

Why did I pick it up? I bought this at the same time as Longbourn, when I had an Amazon card to use up on Kindle books. I’ll admit that I slightly judged by the very pretty cover artwork, but the description also sounded interesting and it was rated well overall.

Rating: 4/5. Some of the reviews classify it as a kids’ book, but I’d say more YA, since there’s some pretty brutal things that happen during the war.

Would I read it again? Most likely.

Other notes: I’m glad I picked this one up. I do love books that are based on mythology, and while I don’t believe this is a retelling of an actual Japanese myth, it certainly has that feel to it. I’m admittedly not very familiar with a lot about various Asian cultures, so this was a nice change from the usual more Greek/Roman/Celtic/overall European style stuff that I’m more familiar with. The style of the writing is very poetic, too. It was like reading one of those nature-inspired Japanese brush paintings that I’ve seen in art museums.

Book #26: Backward Compatible

Title: Backward Compatible

Author: Pete Clark & Sarah Daltry (at least, Sarah was listed on the cover on my copy)

Genre: Fiction

Length: 257 pages

Read: mid-Juneish

Summary: Two college kids home for Christmas break meet at a midnight release for a new video game, fight over the last copy, and end up falling in love.

New or re-read? New read.

Why did I pick it up? It was free at the time that I downloaded it, and I was lured in by the promise of geek humor, which I do quite enjoy. (Thus my propensity to love shows like Chuck and The Big Bang Theory.)

Rating: 1/5

Would I read it again? Not a chance. In fact, I started a new collection on my Kindle for “Books to Delete After Empty Shelf” just because of this book.

Other notes: I really wanted to like this one when I started it, but I just couldn’t in the end. The two main characters really weren’t likeable at all, the guy’s best friend was extremely annoying, and the whole plot line just felt really cliche. I’m not one to shy away from any form of profanity in a book, but the amount in this one was ridiculous. Even the geek humor overall wasn’t really that amusing to me on the whole, though it did have a couple of funny moments. It probably doesn’t help that most of it centers around video games, and while I do have enough RPG experience that I was able to follow the big anti-climactic battle at the end, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a gamer geek. Aside from Lord of the Rings Online, board games are pretty much how we roll around here. There was a lot of Hobbit movie bashing, too. (And while I’ll agree that 3 movies out of one kids’ book is a bit of a stretch, I do think that the additions are good on the whole and do help to tie it in to the tone of LotR much better. Since LotR is my number one fandom, that did get under my skin a bit.)

At least the book was free. I would have been quite put out if I’d paid the $5 that it’s listed at now.

In which I try to learn to handle timey-wimey stuff

I suck at time management. At least, the adult version of it.

I don’t remember this being so much of an issue when I was in high school and college, where my class times were pre-set, and all I had to deal with was juggling homework, the small social life of an introverted teenager, the occasional family event, working on my art and music stuff, and the occasional part-time job. Which was usually in the summers when I didn’t have school going on anyway. Two of those years in college, I even managed to get into the undergrad summer research program, which meant that I basically got paid to practice and work on music stuff for two summers straight. How amazing is that?

It all came crashing down when I hit grad school. The good thing was that I didn’t have to rack up any student loan debt in order to get a masters’ degree–I got a teaching assistantship, which I’d decided would be my determining factor on whether I attempted to go on for more education or not. I didn’t want to take out loans to earn a degree in a field in which I was highly unlikely to find a full-time job with benefits. (Which is a good thing, because to this day, I’ve never had one.) The bad thing is that suddenly I was juggling what basically equated to multiple jobs and being a full-time student—I was teaching flute to kids both within and without the university setting, doing my TA work, still trying to practice, be involved in my church, deal with some lingering issues from a horrible breakup during my senior year, etc. etc. I was pretty burned out by the end of those two years, though I did finish the degree, but all of the time management skills I had basically flew out the window and never came back. And it’s only gotten worse as I’ve added things, like multiple part-time jobs and still trying to practice my flute and being married and having a house to try to clean instead of just one room, and so on.

All that to say, the next two things on my Empty Shelf after my last post were time management books. Both were Kindle freebies that I got off of Amazon, and I read them both in a single day at work, while I had nothing else to do but sit and wait out my shift and think about all of the stuff I could be doing at home instead. How ironic.

So, in a battle of the books, here’s the two I read:

Book 1 (or 25 of the Empty Shelf challenge)

Title: Done! The Art of Managing Priorities

Author: Kapil Apshankar

Genre: non-fiction/self-help

Length: ~103 pages. (This one was Kindle-only, so this is Amazon’s estimate.)

Read: Sometime in June. I don’t remember the exact date.

Summary: Claims to be a simple, fool-proof way of achieving one’s goals.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? See above.

Rating: 2.5/5.

Would I read it again? I doubt it.

Other comments: This one didn’t really click with me overall, to be honest. I think a big part of it was that the author was extremely insistent that the secret to getting everything done was to do it as early in the day as possible, to the point of saying that night people don’t really exist. Honestly, I think that’s a load of crap–not everyone is wired the same way, I’ve learned through experience that my body really does run better on, ideally, a midnight-to-8 sleep schedule (not that sleeping till 8 happens much in my world), and that the earlier I get up, no matter how early I try to force myself to go to bed the night before, the less cognitive function I have during the day. And probably the next. I get irritated rather quickly with people who think their solution to life’s little problems is the only way to do anything–probably also why I have a really hard time swallowing the whole Dave Ramsey approach to finances. Another huge issue for me was the grammar. It was very poorly edited, if it was edited at all, and that is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Book 2 (26 of the Empty Shelf)

Title: Time Management

Author: Shawn Chhabra

Genre: non-fiction/self-help

Length: ~290 pages. (This one was Kindle-only, so this is Amazon’s estimate.)

Read: Sometime in June. I don’t remember the exact date.

Summary: Claims to be a simple, fool-proof way of achieving one’s goals.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? See above.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Would I read it again? More likely skim over it.

Other comments: I’d be far more likely to implement the ideas in this one than the first one. To quote Pirates of the Caribbean, his “rules” were more like guidelines, really. That leaves a lot more room for experimenting and figuring out what would really work for me as an individual. I did kind of like that it had suggested useful websites and apps for helping one to manage his or her time, but at the same time, I feel like this would date the book really quickly. Technology changes so quickly. The two things that did drive me a little crazy about this particular book were all the ads in the front, and that literally half of it was appendices for things like quotes about time management, yoga techniques, recipes, etc. I guess they could be useful resources, but it makes for really dry reading material when you’re at work. Thankfully, since this was on my Kindle, I had other things to choose from. So I do have to admit that I only skimmed through that half.

 

Overall, I don’t think I’ve found my perfect time management system yet, because I honestly can’t really remember most of the principles in either book. I guess I got distracted or something. But at least it’s a start towards making a positive change, right?

Books, books, books!

I fell quite behind in my blogging during April/May. So rather than kill myself doing a full review of every single book I’ve read in the last 2 1/2 months, I figured it would be best to summarize what’s been added to my Empty Shelf project since my last book post, and then start fresh with the two I finished today. (Work was that slow.)

Book #14: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, book 7 of The Dresden Files. This happens to be one of my favorite books of the series to date, particularly the climactic battle at the end. I know “epic” is an overused word these days, but it really is! Finished sometime around mid-April.

Book #15: Lord of Glory: A Daily Lenten Devotional on the Names of Christ, by Ray Pritchard. I don’t normally do too much for Lent, having grown up Protestant and all, but this one was a Kindle freebie and I figured it would be a good mini-study to do. I liked it overall, and would probably go through it in a future year.

Book #16: 5 Days to Budget Breakthrough, by Kimberlee Stokes. Part of an e-book bundle that I bought, and since the budget is something we’ve been trying to get under control, I read through this one in about one sitting. I’d probably need to read it a second time to really implement some of the ideas, though.

Book #17, which I apparently forgot to add to my Pinterest board: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher, book 8 of the Dresden Files. In which one of the older minor characters comes back in a much more major capacity that has strong implications for the series thereafter.

Book #18: White Night by Jim Butcher, book 9 of the Dresden Files. Serial killers and vampire politics sounds like a pretty good non-spoilery way to sum this up.

Book #19: Small Favor by Jim Butcher, book 10 of the Dresden Files. Harry gets suckered into doing a favor for Mab (think Shakespeare and faeries) that’s pretty likely to kill him.

Book #20: Skin Game by Jim Butcher, book 15 of the Dresden Files. Yes, at this point, I skipped ahead. I finished Small Favor the day that this one was released, it happened to be the last of the paperbacks (i.e. books I hadn’t read in at least 5 years), I only had one more book in my possession at the moment because my sister-in-law borrowed 12-14 from me, and I wanted to know what happened next! Overall, I liked it. The most non-spoilery way I can say it is supernatural heist story, recurrence of a couple previous major-league baddies, lots of backstabbing, and stuff blows up. Because it’s Harry.

Book #21: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I guess this one’s a little bit of a cheat, since I’ve been reading it off and on since last April. But I finished it, so it counts! Between the Robert Downey, Jr. movies, the exquisite BBC adaptation, and Elementary, I’ve been watching a lot of pop-culture Sherlock Holmes for the last several years, but I’d never actually read any of the stories. So I decided it was time to remedy that. It was definitely a nice one to have on my Kindle, because that way I could just pull it out and read a short story or 3 in between things without having to lug a 5-pound book everywhere. Which is why, as much as I love real books, I’ve become a real fan of classics on the Kindle, too. (Also, you can often snag them for free. And free books are always a good thing.)

Book #22: Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the Percy Jackson books and the Kane Chronicles, so it was fun to get a short story where Percy and Carter team up to fight a monster. It looks like there’s an Annabeth/Sadie story out now, too, so I’ll have to add that one to the collection.

Book #23: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. I’d read through the first three Heroes of Olympus books last year or so, and since I’m done with the Dresden Files re-reading for now, it seemed like a good time to get back to it. To summarize, this continues the story arc in the first three books, in which teenage demigods of both Greek and Roman descent have to team up to stop an ancient goddess from awakening and tear the world apart. This one was particularly fun for me since it’s very Annabeth-centric, and I did always like her.

Book #24: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Deals with the massive spoilery cliffhanger at the end of MoA, so in a way, I’m quite glad that I didn’t get to that one until recently. This one also had some perspectives from newer characters that I haven’t seen as much insight into, particularly Frank and Leo, so that was fun. There was one story element that I honestly could have done without, which made me like this book less than the previous ones in the series, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see how it develops. Aside from that, it was enjoyable.

And since I finished that one yesterday, that seems like a good place to stop!

 

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