Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Books With Dragons

It's a Top Ten Tuesday freebie over at That Artsy Reader Girl. 

1. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

I've read the first two books in the Temeraire series and LOVED them so far. Horatio Hornblower + dragons =awesome.

2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I read the entire Eragon series, and while I enjoyed some books more than others, I liked the series overall, and I couldn't resist the "what happens when a farm boy finds a dragon egg in a fantasy land" storyline.

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I love the portrayal of Smaug and particularly his interactions with Bilbo. I wish we had gotten more dragons in Tolkien and maybe they weren't all evil.

4. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

We don't get any dragons in LOTR, but the Silmarillion has some nasty ones--the Fingon/Glaurung battle is one of my favorites.

5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Of course there's Norbert in the first book, but there's more focus on dragons here in the scenes with Charlie and Harry vs. the Hungarian Horntail.

6. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

I love the wise and kind dragon that takes in Princess Cimorene.

7. Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville

Again,while there is a big bad dragon here, there are also some dragon allies.

8. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The dragons aren't so much characters here, and they're barely in the first book, but there's still an amazing sense of awe (and history) around the dragons in Westeros and Estos.

9. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I like how dragons, and half-dragons, are done here and how they have their own culture. I still need to read Tess of the Road.

10. All of Robin Hobb's various books about various permutations of dragons

I've only read one of these, but I loved the concept of dragon life cycles and all that went with that.

In conclusion, there need to be more books with dragons.

Monday, December 3, 2018

November Wrap-Up

Books I Read This Month

1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
2. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Temeraire Book#1)
3. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens' Agenda by Becky Albertalli
4. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
5. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
6. Worlds Seen in Passing: 10 Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by Irene Gallo

Some definite trends here, as I stocked up on reads from favorite authors this past year and before, plus some YA books.

Favorite Book This Month
For the first time, I did have a hands-down favorite this month!

His Majesty's Dragon is basically Horatio Hornblower with dragons, and it's AMAZING. I started reading parts aloud to my husband, and he told me to stop---because he wanted to read it for himself. I've already got the second book out of the library and I'm super excited because there are nine books out in the series. I love coming into a brand new (to me) series where I can just read the whole thing straight through! It's very different from her more recent books, Uprooted and Spinning Silver, which I feel like got a lot more attention, but in my opinion, just as good in a different way if you can get into books set in the British Royal Navy/Air Force during the Napoleonic wars (which, you should).

Things I Baked This Month
1. I got obsessed with Smitten Kitchen's Sunken Black Forest Cake, but I know from past experience that the two of us won't finish a whole cake (even one layer) by ourselves, and I hate throwing food away. So, instead, I reprised my favorite mini molten chocolate cakes (I bake them in muffin tins) and added Smitten Kitchen's cherry preserve topping, with apple cider vinegar since I didn't have any lemon juice or kirsch. They were delicious and we (okay, mostly I) ate them all!

2. Atlantic Beach Pie
I saw this article shortly before Thanksgiving, so I went ahead and made this and it was a surprise Thanksgiving hit!

3. Root Vegetable Hand Pies

I originally intended to make Smitten Kitchen's root vegetable gratin, but a different set of root vegetables were available at my grocery store, so I got parsnips and turnips instead, in addition to potato, and then, since I was already off recipe, I made it into hand pies, with this crust, which I'd been meaning to use again. Then, I made another version later in the week that was a riff on this plus green bean casserole.  Basically, I had a lot of fun in the kitchen during Thanksgiving break!

Links I Liked This Month

1. A more hopeful take on What Really Happens After the Apocalypse

2. That Guy in Your MFA's 10 Rules for Novelists

Friday, November 30, 2018

October Wrap-Up

I've been too busy for pretty much everything, except reading, so here's my late October wrap-up!

Books I Read in October
Except for the first book, there is a Jewish/fairytale/winter theme that happened organically (a.k.a. what new books were on display at the library).

1. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett 
2. Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill
3. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
4. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
5. The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

Top 2 Books I Read in October (Look at me getting selective!)

Every single book listed above is fabulous, and I would highly recommend each. That said, there were two standouts for me personally this month.

1. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

 This one was recommended by a friend--and, wow. It may have hit me so powerfully because it was not at all what I was expecting, and I think your mileage may vary, but this was definitely the right book at the right time for me. As I wrote, it's not Rumpelstiltskin retold, it's Rumplestiltskin unspun, and retold in an Eastern European Jewish, but also still totally magical fantasy, context. It's not perfect, but it is an entertaining and thoughtful read for a winter's night.

2. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

I should pick up books without foreknowledge more often! When I saw this at the library, I picked it up because I thought it was If All the Seas Were Ink by Ilana Kurshan (still haven't read it). Therefore, I was quite surprised to open a work of nonfiction about a woman reading through the Talmud, to discover a work of fiction about a professor unearthing documents from a Portuguese Jewish community in 17th century England. Although this book speaks to my particular interests in Judaism and early modern England, I think anyone who enjoys literature and history will find this a treat. Furthermore, I currently avoid reading books with multiple timelines since I usually like one timeline more than the other, usually the historical, and wish the book would just stick with that one. However, The Weight of Ink has two distinct timelines, each with its own protagonist(s), and...I loved both. Well worth a read.

5 Posts in October

1. September Wrap-Up

In my second official wrap-up, I read even more books than the first!

2. October Goals

I made some reading, baking, and writing goals in October.

3. What I'm Reading

I enjoyed Ann Patchett's collection This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage and DNF'd The Other Alcott. 

4. Library Haul

I had to share my gorgeous winter fairytale library haul!

5. Mini Book Review: Spinning Silver

I loved this book so much, I wanted to review it in a little more detail!

Favorite Post This Month

My review of Spinning Silver, mostly just because of how much I liked the book and want other people to read it!

3 Things I Baked This Month

1. I saw this applesauce cake on Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to have it--but I didn't have enough applesauce! I tried to substitute with mayonnaise, and that was a mistake. The resulting cake was way too dry. However, I made this recipe two more times with the correct amount of applesauce, except I made it as cupcakes to bring to friends and to work. They were delicious, moist, and went over very well--especially with this cream cheese frosting, which is my new go-to!

2. Candied Pecans

The second time I made the applesauce cake cupcakes, I used My Baking Addiction's recipe to make candied pecans for a decoration on top! They were delicious on and off the cupcakes!

3. Gingerbread Snacking Cake

I made gingerbread snacking cake with homemade whipped cream for my husband's birthday, and although I'm really proud of myself for making the whipped cream by hand, I don't think I would try this recipe again. It was a little too dry for us and we don't like whipped cream enough to make up for it (although homemade is so much better than the canned stuff).

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Top Five Books I Want for Hanukkah

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is Top Ten Platonic Relationships in Books, but Hanukkah is less than a week away!

Top Five Books I Want for Hanukkah

1. American Cookie by Anne Byrn

I loved American Cake, and I'm sure I will be just as captivated by American Cookie! I've been on a real cookbook/food history binge lately!

2. Ladyfingers Letterpress High Five Gilded Undated Planner

Phew, that was a mouthful, and I had no idea it was called that until just now. But this is the planner I've been using this year, I love it, and I'm ready for another one!

3. A Notebook/Inspiring Quotes Notebook

I also need a fresh notebook. I've been really into the inspiring quotes hardcover spiral-bounds from Barnes & Noble.

4. Or Chadash

I took a class at my new synagogue and learned about this commentary on the Siddur Sim Shalom prayer book.

5. Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks

I would definitely be interested in this book, but any book or cookbook about Jewish food or latkes would work here. I'm really in that kind of mood.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Top Ten Boxed Books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl is "Top Ten Backlist Books I Own and Still Need to Read." A few years ago, I did a really good job of reading most of the unread books I owned, and I'd narrowed it down to a small TBR shelf, but now I have a slightly different problem: a lot of my books are still in boxes from moving!

Top Ten Six Boxed Books I Want to Read

1. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This has gotten so bad, I have contemplated buying it again (or getting it out of the library). I just cannot find it!

2. Ru by Kim Thuy

I saw a couple great reviews of this one during Women In Translation (WIT) month, but I can't get ahold of it! (Pretty sure it's in the same box as the one above).

3. You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

I came really close to buying this again, before I read an old blog post, and realized I had it...somewhere.

4. Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir by Amy Tan

Ditto. Same blog post, lost in same box as all those above *sigh*.

5. Deenie by Judy Blume

One of the few Judy Blumes I still.have.not.yet.read.

6. The Talmud

I should really read this someday.

Annnd...that's all!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Mini Book Review: Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver isn't so much a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, but as if Novik unspun the fairytale and rewove its themes and tropes into three new story threads. Since I haven't been paying attention, the most unexpected part of the book for me was that it involved Jewish characters--which I don't think I've ever seen in a fantasy novel before (I am aware there are some; I just haven't read them). Ironically, after I read this, I've been on a streak of Jewish/fairytale/winter reads, including The Sisters of the Winter Wood, released in September. Spinning Silver has a strong message about paying debts, and comments on what it would really mean to sell your unborn child. I love fairytale retellings in general, but this one had extra gravitas in light of the commentary for Jewish characters, and furthermore, it's a strong and funny story. I will definitely be reading Novik's other books. The last line made me laugh aloud, but I won't tell you what it was.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Library Haul

I had six books out of the library when these holds came in.
But when I went to pick them up,
they were so beautiful.
I have no regrets.

I finished Fierce Fairytales in under two hours.
I devoured every story, poem, fable, escaping to the world
of the moon dragon princess, where Sleeping Beauty and
Snow White wake each other up.
As a collection, it is brimming with hope.
Must-read for fairytale lovers, for feminists, for lovers of fun, accessible poetry.