While this might not be the clearest picture, it says a lot about my relationship with my sister. And today over at YA Buccaneers, you can read all about our blog hop happening this month in celebration of fellow pirate Kathryn Holmes‘ novel, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND. And yes, I’m thanking my sister today. Isn’t she great? Go read the post now!




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First up on my Cookbook Countdown is THUG KITCHEN: EAT LIKE YOU GIVE A F*CK: THE OFFICIAL COOKBOOK.  I must admit, I picked this up at work because it was a new cookbook, and well, of course I couldn’t resist the title. I really didn’t know anything about it or the popular THUG KITCHEN website, so it was all a surprise to me when I opened it up. Kinda fun, right?



Cookbook, reviews



The premise behind this cookbook is actually really good. It’s all about real people making real food. And this isn’t a cookbook for meat-eaters at all; in fact, there are no animal products in any of the recipes—-no eggs, butter, meat or milk. Crazy, huh? Growing up on boiled veggies that either came from a can or the freezer, I can tell you I was not a fan of the green stuff. It wasn’t until I was in University that I even ate things like green peppers(!), and my first taste of asparagus was made for me by my husband when we were first dating. Sad, right? No offence, Mom, but veggies weren’t your wheelhouse.




THUG KITCHEN aims to change that for people. The opening of the book talks about how easy it is to make great-tasting food without opening a package or going through a drive-thru. I love that they spend ten pages (10!!) talking about important things like reading the recipes through first, not leaving out ingredients, and writing down critical errors made on recipes you’d probably like to make again. There’s also a quick primer for cooking basic foods like rice or beans, things they won’t go into later within certain recipes. But it’s fantastic advice! And they do it in a really entertaining way. (Can we say “plant nachos”, people…aka SALAD!) Yes, there’s plenty of swearing in this book—-it probably isn’t something you’d buy for a member of your church group or your grandma—-but it adds to the whole you-can-do-anything attitude. Go for it!




Along with most of the recipes comes either a handy tip about what the food should look like during a particular step, or some great infotaining tips about the food you’re going to cook. Wouldn’t you like to be able to educate your guests about what they’re eating at your next dinner party? They’ll think you’re a genius!




The only negative is the lack of calorie/fat/etc. breakdown for recipes. If you’re on a restrictive diet, this might take some extra work to figure out.





This is a library book, but I want my own copy now. And if you’re looking for more recipes, drop by their website for a daily recipe, as well as timely ideas for holiday eating and more. Fantastic, right? It certainly makes our return to healthy eating more fun.





If you’re looking for a creative wedding gift for a YOUNG couple, this would be a great starter. It’s also something I’d recommend to someone going off to college and cooking for themselves for the first time. They’ll get it, trust me. Or just buy this for your sister or brother or best friend or mailman or….you get the point.










Yum!  And happy eating….




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We’re most of the way through January, and while I haven’t been posting a lot, I have been doing writerly things a lot. I’m finishing up revisions on MANIAC to send out to my critique partners, mostly, so that’s been my main focus. But in between, I’ve been doing this:







Lena Dunham, Lauren Oliver



I’m just starting ROOMS, by Lauren Oliver. This is her first piece of adult fiction, so I’m interested to see how the voice changes and how the writing evolves. I usually enjoy her writing, so I’d like to be able to promote this as a great crossover for older teens starting to venture into adult fiction at the library, or as a book for adults looking to read a few new authors.



NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Lena Dunham is suprisingly good! Not that I should have been surprised, but I thought it would be more like all of the other biographical reads that funny people tend to put out—-heavy on the comedy (are their lives really that funny all the time???), and less about them as people. If you haven’t picked this one up, do it. It’s poignant, personal, and yes….still has that Lena Dunham charm.  I’m taking this one slow because I don’t want it to end.



I must admit, I almost put THE DOUBT FACTORY by Paolo Bacigalupi down after the first few pages. It was a simple description about a “black-guy”——his words, not mine——that I thought was a little insensitive in this day when we need more diversity in YA books. But, I think Bacigalupi is going somewhere with this, so I’m still reading. In fact, it’s got a good thriller feel, and I haven’t heard much about this release, so maybe it’ll turn out to be a good book to recommend to our readers at the library. Have you read it?






Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, BoyhoodWe like a good movie in our house, and we tend to see quite a few over the course of a year. I think some of our best discussions come out of watching and doing our own little movie reviews at the end of the day. This month, we’ve hit a couple of biggies: “Gone Girl” and “Boyhood”.



Of course, I was very interested to see “Gone Girl”, and I’m happy that it followed the book quite closely. Was it a good choice to have Gillian Flynn write the screenplay? Yes and no, in my opinion. The book was soooooo good, and really read well. There were deep thoughts about relationships and insight into men and women that I don’t think anyone had tried before, especially in such a twisty type of book. That’s what I loved about it….the combination of thrill-ride and therapy session.  The movie, though, felt too wordy, too narrative instead of conversational when Nick and Amy were speaking. In a book, it works. Onscreen, not so much. But, it was better than a lot of movies out there, so I forgave it that.



“Boyhood” was another movie that surprised me. Yes, it was thoroughly delightful to see these young characters growing up onscreen. And for some reason, I always enjoy Ethan Hawke in movies. The story was thoughtful and realistic and had some wonderful moments. Would it have been as impressive if they’d used different actors throughout to convey time passing? Probably not. Which makes me think this was a device. Clever, yes, but if you take that away, is the movie as strong? You decide.



I wonder what we’ll watch next weekend?






I’m off to the Ontario Library Super Conference next week in Toronto, Ontario, so I’ve been madly prepping things at work for my time away. This conference is always fun and informative. I usually come away feeling like I have new ideas for my programs, new books to read, and lots of great memories. This year, I’m hoping to hit some of the book signings a little earlier and lug around 50 pounds of books all week. Not that I’m complaining….this is about as close to a writer’s conference as I’ll most likely ever get, so I take advantage. I’ll try to take lots of photos to share when I get back. Thousands of librarians in one place….can you imagine!



What have YOU been up to lately? Drop me a line….





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YA websites




Number four? Already? It’s been so much fun visiting the blogs I love to read….I haven’t been to some of them enough, and now I know I’ve been missing out! This month is the perfect example: Natalie Whipple over at Between Fact and Fiction.



Natalie Whipple is the author of some fun YA, some serious YA, but always great YA.






I started reading her blog before I even began querying, and to be honest, I almost quit. She is so heartfelt and honest with her observations about the book world, it would make anyone think twice about wanting to get involved. Except, she LOVES writing…so much that she has to continue despite all of the setbacks she’s encountered through her career. I love the candid posts about querying, about selling her first book…and the latest one, about the differences between self-publishing and the traditional method. There is no way you can read this woman’s confessionals and not feel a connection. I get her. I’ve been there. And she made it through, so it makes me feel like I can do it, too! Plus, she’s so darn cute…and those illustrations?! Heck, ya!




I would highly recommend this post where she gives blunt advice to writers, and her (UGH) post about being on submission. If you’ve ever been in the trenches, read it now. Now.




So, I’m revisiting some of these posts to get me through the next few months as I begin sharing my latest book with my critique partners and my agent. I’ll need a boost.




Have you read any of Natalie’s books? What are some of your favorite posts? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!




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Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution that I can’t keep (again) this year, I decided I’d try something a little different. While we’re trying to eat healthier and have made great changes to our overall diet, my resolve to eat healthy gets lost in the same-old-recipe muck. So, 2015 is going to be about trying new things—namely, new recipes.



Each month, I’ll pick a newly released cookbook (or one that’s new to me), and choose some recipes that might help us continue along the healthy eating path. I’ll also give you a rundown on the cookbook itself so you can decide if it’s something you might want to check out.



First up in January is THUG KITCHEN: EAT LIKE YOU GIVE A F*CK. Yep.  Seriously.  I’m a little afraid of this one, but get it over right at the beginning I guess. Wish me luck.






Watch for my review a little later this month. I’ll have pictures—wish it could be a taste test!








(Title photo courtesy of Todd Quackenbush at Unsplash)

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