Review // Horrorstör

I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO STEP INSIDE IKEA AGAIN

Rating: YESSSSSSSSSSSSS
Odds of Crying: 0
Odds of Having Nightmares: 1/4
Will I binge read this book?: Yes, it’s a fast read
Is this a series?: Nope.
Is this an IKEA catalog: No, but it sure does look like one
This book is for you if you like: to be scared, really cool book design, original ideas/concepts

Spoiler Free Summary!

Grady Hendrix – where have you been all my life?!?!

Hendrix is clearly a genius. This story is set in Orsk, which is basically the American version of IKEA. It starts out very clever and amusing. The characters/employees of Orsk are very relatable. I can picture the layout of Orsk perfectly in my mind. I’m walking through the store and feeling the pull to pick up things that have been intentionally placed in my way so that I will buy them. And that’s why when it is closing time and the lights go out, I become terrified.

This story is super creepy, has a lot of surprises, is clever and funny, AND left me in deep thought. I don’t know what I thought the experience of reading Horrorstör would be like, but man am I completely stoked for everyone I know to read it so we can talk about its amazingness.

The design of the book is hands down the coolest thing ever. It looks like a catalog, complete with an order form and item descriptions. IT’S SO FREAKING SMART!

And then to take something so familiar, a place where I have spent an obscene amount of time – and turn it into a haunted house of sorts – it seriously became a horror store/story.

I was not familiar with Hendrix before reading Horrorstör. But he lured me into the story, then had me trapped and begging for someone to turn the lights back on before I peed my pants in terror. I’m very impressed.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this book had me thinking very deep thoughts about society and consumerism and my own life and career choices. THIS BOOK HAS EVERYTHING.

You can pick up Horrorstör on September 23rd from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and don’t forget to support your local bookseller!

Find out more about Grady Hendrix here, he tweets here, and FaceBooks here.

Paperback, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 23rd 2014 by Quirk Books 
*I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads

Review // Looking for Alaska

I GO TO SEEK A GREAT PERHAPS

9780142402511_p0_v3_s260x420

Rating: YESSSS
Odds of Crying: 1/2
Will I binge read this book?: Depends. It’s hard to find a stopping point in this book because it isn’t laid out in chapters, but in x number of days ‘before’ and then in x number of days ‘after’
Is this a series?: Nope. So far, John Green doesn’t do series. All of his novels are stand-alone.
This book is for you if you like: Anything else John Green has written and really good YA realistic fiction.

 

This thing won awards!
Winner, 2006 Michael L. Printz Award
Finalist, 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
2006 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults
2006 Teens’ Top 10 Award
2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
Borders Original Voices Selection

Spoiler Free Summary!

When I was reading this book, it reminded me of reading The Catcher in the Rye. Now, I know that is quite the statement to make. The Catcher in the Rye is a CLASSIC. Yes, people. That is how much I adore Looking for Alaska. 

We travel with Miles Halter to a boarding school in Alabama, where he plans to search for what poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Miles quickly earns the nickname of Pudge by his roommate who is known as ‘The Colonel’ and is instantly intrigued by the girl down the hall named Alaska. I mean, who wouldn’t be intrigued with someone named Alaska?! These kids, along with hip-hop MC/rapper Takumi and Romanian born Lara, have almost all the freedoms of college but are still high schoolers. Adventure ensues.

Miles is obsessed with ‘last words’ – the final words someone says before they die. He collects them in his head, like The Colonel collects all kind of random geography facts. These kids are nerds, but cool nerds. A lot of the book is about discovery – academically and socially. If you’ve never gone to boarding school, think about your experiences at summer camp when you’re around all of these strangers who aren’t like you, who don’t necessarily think like you and come from different experiences. You learn and experience SO MUCH. This book captures that perfectly. Also, pranks.

I promised no spoilers. But let’s think about it. Miles is obsessed with last words. The book is formatted in a way that leads up to something (days before) and then has a whole section about the days after. OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS, GUYS.

I know John Green became super popular after The Fault in Our Stars, which was published in 2012. Looking for Alaska was his very first novel, written back in 2005. It’s sooooo good and deserves to get more attention. I am hopeful that after all the hoopla around TFiOS, people will go buy everything he has written and discover that John Green is amazing. No joke.

You can find John Green on YouTube as one half of Vlogbrothers and at CrashCourse, and he tweets here, and has an official website, along with a tumblr, and he posts photos here.

You can pick up Looking for Alaska from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and don’t forget to support your local bookseller!

Review // Paper Towns

YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

 

Rating: YESSSSSSSSSSS
Odds of Crying: 1/3
Will I binge read this book?: Definitely
Is this a series?: No and that is sad because I never want this book to end.
This book is for you if you likeThe Fault in Our StarsLooking for AlaskaThe Spectacular Now, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and YA realistic fiction (I can’t believe that is actually a genre, but whatever).

John Green.

His name deserves to stand on its own. He’s THAT amazing. I love everything he has written, but Paper Towns is by far my favorite.

Spoiler Free Summary!

Quentin “Q” Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman (gees that name!) have been neighbors since they were both two years old. At the age of nine, they find a dead guy in a park and Margo takes it upon herself to investigate. She gives Q the rundown one night as she stands outside of his bedroom window. Q has always had the hots for Margo – she’s quite the legend around school for her antics. But they aren’t really friends. And don’t really mingle at school.

Then nine years after dead body guy, Margo shows back up at Q’s window asking for help.

A straight up weird and random night ensues as Margo enlists Q to be her getaway man for a list of eleven things she has to do that night. Which she promises will not include felonies. After this epic night of adventure, Q cannot wait for all the good times to come with his friend Margo. But the next day at school, Margo isn’t there. And then she is just gone.

Graduation is approaching for Q and his two best friends Ben and Radar, but all he can think about is Margo and believes that she has left him clues to find her. And so, with the help of his friends, he attempts to solve the mystery that is Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Now, John Green is incredibly smart and a self-professed nerd. Not only is this a great story, but it’s also a great history and map lesson. THIS BOOK MADE ME LEARN THINGS! It’s a beautiful story of growing up, friendship, adventure, and complicated people.

This book is not The Fault in Our Stars sad. It is a different kind of sadness. It is the kind of sadness that makes you look at your own life and ask yourself difficult questions. I wish this book was written back when I was in high school. I can’t help but think that it would have changed me a bit. To me, that is what makes a book glorious – it’s ability to shape a piece of me. Even as an adult, I can’t ignore the way this book made me feel once I reached the end and the stirring it created in my soul. To loosely quote the legendary Margo Roth Spiegelman, “I am going to the paper towns. And I am never coming back.” I SO get you Margo Roth Spiegelman! Seriously though, I totally cried after reading this book.

You can find John Green on YouTube as one half of Vlogbrothers and at CrashCourse, and he tweets here, and has an official website, along with a tumblr, and he posts photos here. Basically, John Green is all over the internet. And if you are not careful, you will fall in love with him. And that is a problem because he is married to a very wonderful lady. And I am not said lady. Sigh.

The moral of this review is: read everything written by John Green and watch every video on Vlogbrothers and CrashCourse.

You can pick up Paper Towns from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and don’t forget to support your local bookseller!

Paper Towns by John Green
Dutton Books
305 pages, hardcover

Review // The Here and Now

 

FOLLOW THE RULES.
REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED.
NEVER FALL IN LOVE.

THAN


Rating:
YESSS
Odds of Crying: 2/5
Will I binge read this book?: Maybe (I totally did)
Is this a series?: No. This book is for you if you have commitment issues.

Let us begin with the obvious: the book cover is GORGEOUS. I know I shouldn’t, but I totally judge books by their covers. If I’m at the bookstore and the cover is amazing, I’m definitely going to pick it up and check that thing out. Just saying, guys! #truth

Spoiler Free Summary!

Turns out things aren’t so great in the not so distant future for us. Especially when it comes to mosquitoes. So the solution is to send people back in time, before things went wrong, and attempt to not screw things up the second time around. AND, make sure no one figures out you’re from the future.

Prenna, a seventeen-year-old, is part of the community that travels back to the year 2010, along with her mother. Not only is she dealing with normal teenage issues, she has to follow strict rules and is under close observation by the leaders of the community. And WORST OF ALL – she is forbidden from having any sort of intimate relationship with anyone outside of the community. When you’re seventeen, this is an epic problem.

So of course, Prenna develops a thing for Ethan Jarves, who isn’t part of the community. And since she is from the future, there is essentially like a time traveling Twilight thing going on, because if they were in Prenna’s true present (2090ish), Ethan/Edward Cullen is like way way way older than her.

“How old are you?”
“Seventeen.”
“How long have you been seventeen?”
“A while.”  

Oops wrong book!

Back on topic. With the help of a mysterious homeless man, Ethan and Prenna set out on a mission to make things right for the future, but what they discover is what we’ve all known since Back to the Future: you don’t mess around with time travel. What you do in the present, changes the future, for better or worse. Even the small stuff that seems inconsequential can alter the course of history. DANG THAT IS INTENSE. And at points, so is this book.

This is a pretty fast read. But it will make you think about the environment, disease, change, and our future world. Ann Brashares is a fantastic writer – and no I’m not talking about The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants ( it’s cool if that is your thing, but it’s definitely not mine). Ann has written some really phenomenal other books ( I HIGHLY recommend The Last Summer (of You and Me)) that are totally different from Traveling Pants.

You can find The Here and Now on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, or probably a million others places.

Ann Brashares tweets here.

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Experiments // Single Girl [or Guy] Sauté

Well…7 weeks strong on the anti-sugar train. And now the experiments shall begin!

A few weeks ago I made a dish with the random vegetables I had left over from the week and it was a delicious success.

I like cooking but I often feel like I’m being wasteful as I’m usually the only one eating, as a single lady. So I try to make single serving recipes or something that actually tastes good warmed up as a leftover. And this dish does!

So now I’ve recreated it based on some of my favorite vegetables. I’m not a professional, so I’ve probably done some things wrong, but the important thing is that it tastes good, is healthy, and is sugar-free. Hooray!

20140317-205352.jpg

Single Girl [or Guy] Sauté

makes about 6 servings

Here’s what you need:
-1 tbsp coconut oil
-1 red onion, chopped
-2 handfuls brussel sprouts, quartered
-2 yellow squash, sliced into bite-size pieces
-2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
-1 zucchini, sliced into bite-size pieces
-1 handful of kale, chopped
-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
-7 oz coconut cream
-1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked
-Shredded parmesan, to serve
-Salt and pepper to taste

First, here is your soundtrack. My philosophy is you shouldn’t spend time in the kitchen without music. Just be careful that your dancing doesn’t get too out of line when you have the knives out. I had to learn this the hard way.

Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it starts to sizzle and turns bright purple.

20140317-201927.jpg

In another large pot, cook the quinoa. But first, rinse it! Use a mesh strainer to do this.

Typically you use two parts water to one part quinoa in the pot (so for 1 1/2 cups quinoa use 3 cups water), on high until it boils. Then cover the pot and simmer it, about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done with the wheat germ pops (it looks like a little white ring).

Let this cook while you are sautéing your veggies.

20140317-203223.jpg

Now back to your pan of onions – Add brussel sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes.

20140317-202015.jpg

Add yellow squash and cook for another five minutes. The brussel sprouts should start to become tender at this point. Make sure you keep stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom of your pan.

20140317-202314.jpg

Normally I would add the zucchini at the same time as the squash, but I had already steamed the zucchini and stored it in the freezer so I’m adding it last.

Next add your peppers to the pan. Cubanelle peppers are not hot, but have a slight sweet taste to them. Plus they provide a nice crunch and are pretty!

20140317-203817.jpg

Your squash and brussel sprouts should be tender now. Continue to cook until the peppers begin to soften, just a few minutes.

At this point I added the zucchini as I had pretty much completely cooked it before. It looks strange and wrinkly because I had previously steamed and frozen it. But it still tastes delicious!

20140317-204158.jpg

By now your quinoa should be cooked. Make sure its not burning!

You can drain and rinse your quinoa, but I left it in the pot.

At this point, you want to add your veggies to the quinoa. I literally dumped the veggies into the quinoa pot.

20140317-204407.jpg

Now we’re gettin weird!

Using the same pan you used for your veggies, bring the heat down a bit and add a handful of kale. Swirl about 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar in the pan. Stir it constantly. This will turn the kale bright green. Also make sure you scrap any onion/veggies that stuck to the pan previously. After a few minutes, transfer the kale to your quinoa pot.

20140317-204650.jpg

Almost done!

Lastly, add the coconut cream to the mix. I use this brand I find at my local Whole Foods. Make sure you use unsweetened.

20140317-204957.jpg

Just pour it over and mix the whole pot really well. You may need to melt your coconut cream first – you can do this in the microwave.

20140317-205046.jpg

And just like that, you’re done!

Add some shredded parmesan and salt and pepper to your taste.

Now you have several more meals for the week! This is a dish that does taste good when it’s warmed up.

You can substitute/add/remove veggies to your preference. Enjoy!

Day Thirty One

Oops. I had sugar.

20140306-203205.jpg

I went to an amazing place in Nashville, Pinewood Social. Seriously, I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. And on my adventure there, I ordered an unfamiliar coffee drink, because I was in the mood to try something new.

20140306-203443.jpg

I mean, that sounds amazing, right?

Lesson learned. Don’t order something if you don’t know what it is. And never be afraid to ask. Fernet, as is turns out, it a type of amaro: a bitter, aromatic spirit.

And demarara….well, of course it is evil. It’s basically brown sugar made by crystallizing raw sugar cane juice. Oops.

The good news is…it was a very small drink. And it was DELICIOUS and totally EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING. I mean, totally accurate name.

And I had sugar, but won’t let it derail me. Its a big picture game, one slip up doesn’t end it. It’s real life and I will make mistakes. It’s what I do after the mistake that’s important. I’m back on plan, dang it!

The moral of this story is that if you don’t know what something is….google it.

Also, Pinewood Social is a must if you are ever in Nashville.

20140306-204535.jpg

20140306-205042.jpg

20140306-205056.jpg

Day Twenty Eight // Vegetable Curry

Posting this a few days late, but I wanted to include how to make the vegetable curry! It is seriously so easy to make and one of my favorite dishes.

20140305-103514.jpg

Vegetable Curry

Here’s what you need:
– 1 medium brown onion, chopped
– 1 small carrot, chopped
– 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
– 1 cup of broccoli florets
– 1 small zucchini, chopped
– 1ish cup of coconut cream (I use a 200ml box of this I find at Whole Foods)
– 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 cup of baby spinach
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– A handful of cilantro
– 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (organic, extra virgin, unrefined)
– 1 teaspoon of ginger
– 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
– 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon of chili flakes

20140305-104352.jpg
This makes 2 servings.

Heat a medium- large pot with coconut oil. Cook the onion until it’s soft. Add in spices, continually stirring so it doesn’t burn, until it becomes fragrant. Then add in everything else except for the spinach and cilantro.

Cover the pot and let the vegetables simmer about 20 minutes until they are tender. You may need to add a little bit of water as it cooks if it gets too thick.

Stir in spinach until it starts to wilt. Remove from heat and add cilantro.

Warning: your kitchen/ home/clothes will smell like curry. So you might want to open a window or light a candle. But it’s so worth it, this dish is delicious.

Source: I Quit Sugar

I cannot believe how much better I feel after five weeks of almost zero sugar consumption. Basically, I’m a different person. I’m excited to see where I will be and how I feel at the end of eight weeks. In the first five weeks, I’ve lost 13 pounds, which is insane! I wasn’t even trying to lose weight, it just happened!

Let me know if you try out the Vegetable Curry. This is definitely a customizable dish!