Friday, July 21, 2017

The Friday 56 (110) & Book Beginnings: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
26869762Synopsis from Goodreads...

Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest dragon there is. And she's ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human. But when the human she finds tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, Aventurine is transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. But she's still the fiercest creature in the mountains -- and now she's found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is get herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she'll be conquering new territory in no time...won't she?
Beginnings: "I can't say that I ever wondered what it felt like to be human."

56: "I pushed myself up onto my hands and knees and stepped onto the sidewalk, gritting my teeth in determination."
Comments: I've read a couple of books by Stephanie Burgis before and was really excited for her latest novel, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. I loved this book! It was a fantastic read.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thought Corner: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Roc; June 14, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author...

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...
The Invisible Library is one book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I mean, it sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy anyway since its main theme is a mysterious library, librarians who double as spies, and of course books—lots and lots of books. In a lot of ways this one reminded me of The Librarians (the movies and TV series). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that comparison in a bad way, because I actually enjoyed this book.

The Invisible Library was a pretty interesting story. It had a lot to do with one librarians search for a “particularly dangerous book.” This book was heavy on the mystery aspect. The majority of the book was spent building up the characters and the mystery surrounding the books’ disappearance and ultimate fate. Another thing worth noting was the library. I liked the fact that the library wasn’t just a library, but a place that connected to a lot of different realities. The individual realities were kind of interesting in that they could share common features and names, but were still different at the same time. So, there was a bit of a time-travel-y element to the story. I also found the librarians themselves to be a point of interest, because of how the library affected them and the roles they took on. Because hey, it’s just part of the job description, right?

Now before I end this review, I want to talk about the characters. The librarians were already kind of mysterious, especially the more higher ranking ones above where the MC, Irene, currently worked. Irene was pretty cool. I’m always a sucker for characters who are librarians—but Irene gets bonus points for working for a magical library, and being a spy. She was intuitive and had a love for books, and honestly, it was just kind of fun to read about the adventures she had. In the synopsis it’s mentioned that Kai—Irene’s assistant—had secrets. That part was alright, but I found his secrets easy to guess. However, I still have some questions about his character. So, guessable secrets aside, Kai was still interesting.

So, The Invisible Library was entertaining, and I look forward to seeing what comes next in this series.

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Favorite Recipe: Baking Powder Pizza Crust

Typically I share recipes I’ve recently tried whenever I have a new Weekend Tidbits post for the blog. However, I’ve decided to try a different approach by dedicating an entire post to whatever recipe I want to talk about, instead of just mentioning it. In light of that, today I’m here to talk about one of the best recipes I’ve come across online: Baking Powder Pizza Crust. The recipe I use (with some minor adjustments) is The Bake-Off Flunkie’s Baking Powder Pizza Crust. It’s my go-to recipe for baking powder pizza crusts.

Now, before I get more into all the little changes I’ve made, I just want to mention that you shouldn’t approach this crust and expect it to be a carbon copy of a yeast crust. If that’s what you’re expecting, you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure. Baking powder isn’t the same as yeast, and I don’t expect it to behave the same. I appreciate this recipe for its easiness, texture, and flavor. I just consider it to be its own thing rather than trying to compare it to the traditional method. If you’ve made a yeast pizza crust before like I have, then you know it takes some time for it to rise and all that. I don’t mind doing that, but sometimes I don’t feel like having to wait as long. And that’s where this recipe comes into play. It takes less than half the time to rise. Trust me when I say that this is actually a very simple recipe to make. I’m not going to talk about toppings because that’s one of the more subjective parts about pizza. You make it how you personally want it to taste, with your favorite toppings. (pictured below is just cheese (right) and a ground turkey & pepperoni pizza (left))


Adjustments I’ve made…

The adjustments I make start with the dough. I don’t double the recipe but I one and a half it, which is the perfect amount of dough for the two rectangle cookie pans that I always use because they fit in my oven side-by-side. (Pictured to the left) I also add seasoning into the crust, rather than brushing it on with more oil. One of my recent favorite combinations is 2 tsp of minced garlic & 1 tsp of thyme. Another major adjustment is that I cook the pizzas for a little bit longer. So, instead of 6-8 minutes, I normally set the timer for around 10-13 instead. I think it has more to do with my oven, and I recommend sticking to the recipe and adjusting the cook time as you see fit. But remember to check the bottom and if it's lightly browned then it’s definitely done. I personally like to cook the pizzas until the cheese is a little crispy.


What do you think? Is this a recipe that you would be willing to try? Also, do you add different flavors to your pizza crust?

Music Monday (27) Forever in Your Mind & TLC

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Today, we are so excited to take part in Music Monday. We went to a couple of live shows last week and heard a couple of new songs that left us with a lasting impression.

For our first pick today, we're sharing Smooth by Forever in Your Mind.  Actually, we hadn't heard of this band before we went to a taping of Netflix’s new show Alexa & Katie, which stars Emory Kelly who is a part of the band. Emory Kelly and Ricky Garcia were there and sang impromptu. All we can say is the video doesn’t do it justice! They are also in the running for a Teen Choice Award, and needless to say, they will definitely get our votes!



Our second pick is Way Back by TLC. On Thursday, we went to the TLC Outdoor Mini-Concert at Jimmy Kimmel Live. They sang Way Back with Snoop Dogg, No Scrubs, Waterfalls, and It’s Sunny –with the first and latter songs being from their new album TLC—the latest addition to our CD collection.







*Breana will be handling comments*
We would love to hear your thoughts about these songs. What are you listening to this week?

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Friday 56 (109) & Book Beginnings: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
27209460Synopsis from Goodreads...

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author...

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...


Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...
Beginnings: "Irene passed the mop across the stone floor in smooth, careful strokes, idly admiring the gleam of wet flagstones in the lantern-light."

56: ""I met one once," Irene said.
"What did you talk about?"
"He complemented me on my literary taste."
Comments: The Invisible Library is another one of the books I recently got for review. I really enjoyed it. My 56 this week comes from page 54 instead because I liked this conversation. 

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thought Corner: The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester

The Screaming Statue (The Curiosity House, #2)Title: The Screaming Statue
Author: Lauren Oliver; H.C. Chester
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: HarperCollins; May 3, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

In this second book in the exceptional Curiosity House series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and shadowy recluse H. C. Chester, four extraordinary children must avenge their friend’s death, try to save their home, and unravel the secrets of their past . . . before their past unravels them. Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max are happy to be out of harm’s way now that the notorious villain Nicholas Rattigan is halfway across the country in Chicago. But unfortunately their home, Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, is in danger of closing its doors forever. But their troubles only get worse. The four friends are shocked when their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to the murder of a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts...
Oh man, lately I’ve just had a string of very average reads, and unfortunately The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester is another one of them. When I saw that The Screaming Statue was available at my local library I thought I would give it a try even though it was the second book in the series. I mainly picked this one up because it had Lauren Oliver’s name on it. Like with every average read I’ve had, there were things I liked and didn’t like about the story. Since I skipped the first book, I did kind of worry about the things I missed. However, I didn’t find that to be a problem because a lot of what happened in book one was mentioned by the main characters. The story was just alright, but despite that, The Screaming Statue was a quick read, and the setting was nice. I liked that the story mainly took place in a museum and the city surrounding it. The one thing I absolutely loved about The Screaming Statue was the characters. Sam, Pippa, Thomas, and Max were fantastic. It was clear to me why they felt the way they did, and it was easy to see the clues about how their past later affected them. I also liked how the character’s behaved around each other. While their situation and platonic and not platonic relationships weren’t perfect, it was nice to see that they still cared about one another. While The Screaming Statue was just an average read, that doesn’t deter me from reading another one of Lauren Oliver’s books. However, that being said, I don’t think I’ll specifically come back to this series.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Musing Monday (70): Favorite Podcasts

Rules: 
  • Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker that asks you to muse about something book related each week. 
My musings for the week...

Once again, it has been some time since I last participated in this weekly meme. Since I didn't have any music I felt like sharing this Monday, I decided to do Musing Mondays instead. First off, I'm going to answer the random weekly questions I missed, before moving on to my other musings for the week. All questions are marked with the date that they were originally posted. 

June 12th: Which would you rather live without? Books or chocolate.

This question is so simple but also kind of evil. How can I be expected to choose between books or chocolate? I love books but I also love chocolate too much to just immediately say that yeah, I'll be willing to live without it.

June 19th: What is your favorite Mark Twain novel?

I don't have a favorite Mark Twain novel because I haven't read anything by him yet. Eventually, I'll probably pick up one of his books. However, at the moment, I don't have any foreseeable plans to do so.

June 26th: What is your favorite spot to read during the summer?

California is hot in the summer. I mean, you can just look at the recent weather patterns and you'll see what I mean. So, I'll read in places that are cool with lots of sunlight. Usually, I'll just read at my desk.

July 3rd: Do you follow book release dates and eagerly await a new arrival? Or do you just kind of check things out in a more casual manner?

While I do eagerly wait for books to come out, I also have a more casual approach to release dates. That's mainly because I don't feel like I have to be the first person to read a thing, and I don't mind waiting months, sometimes a full year, before getting the book in question. I'm just not in a rush.

Other musings for the week...

Today, I wanted to talk about something a little different and it will be in the form of a list, which I haven’t done in a long time. I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog before, and recently I got to thinking about podcasts. I thought it would be interesting to talk about some of the podcasts I’m currently listening to, which isn’t that many at all. However, I hope to change that very soon.
  • First up is Midnight in Karachi, a Tor.com podcast. There hasn’t been an episode in a while. Still, I’ve been steadily working my way through them, and so far it’s been pretty great getting to listen to what authors had to say. I’m not listening to them in any particular order, but my favorite ones so far have been Aliette de Bodard and N.K. Jemisin. I’m sure that list will expand once I get around to listening to more of the podcast.
  • Next up is Black Girl Nerds. I love this podcast a lot! Once again, I’m late to the party. So, there are a lot of episodes that I’ve yet to listen to that I’ll have plenty of them to keep me busy for a while. The episodes are always interesting, and it’s just a joy getting to listen to so many different topics and guests. 
  • Welcome to Night Vale. I’m terribly behind on this podcast series, but I hope to listen to more episodes soon. All I have to say about this one is: I finally get the hype. 
  • And last, but certainly not least: Fangirl Happy Hour. This one is pretty much the reason why I’ve started listening to more and more podcast, especially recently. I’ve been listening to this podcast for a while off and on, but I recently went on a binge of all the episodes I missed. 
So, that’s my very short list of podcasts I regularly listen to. It’s not a lot, but it’s certainly a start. Do you have any favorite podcasts? If so, tell me about them in the comments down below.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pardon the Construction...

At the end of last year, I was pretty happy with the overall design of Our Thoughts Precisely. However, I’ve done a lot of thinking, especially about the direction I want to take this blog. I’ve had a lot of time to think and ultimately decided that change wasn’t just on the horizon, it was already here. If you’ve noticed, blog posts have been more sporadic than before, and I’ve taken a lot more week long breaks—between catching a cold back in May, reading slumps, and lack of motivation to write anything. Honestly, I haven’t been reading as much young adult or middle grade books as I used to. So, I haven’t really felt like I had as much to post on Our Thoughts Precisely. As part of my 2017 resolutions, I wanted to incorporate more of my interests into my blogging. And I didn’t feel like the old design of Our Thoughts Precisely really reflected that anymore. So, my first thought was to give the blog a new look.

I’m going to be honest: deciding how to change the header, the background, and the overall look of the blog wasn’t easy. Actually, the new header is the second one I made. The first one, well, I felt like it was too along the same sort of vein as the old look of Our Thoughts Precisely—i.e. a similar, if not identical color scheme and style. It took me a long time to make it, and I struggled with parts of it because I wasn’t totally happy with it. While, in hindsight, I later realized that I wanted something with cleaner lines, limited colors, and no solid background except for white. But, I also wanted to incorporate all the things that I associate with this blog—birdcages, teacups, skeleton keys, and birds. And the first redesign just didn’t fit that vision. So, I started over again and let me tell you, that was the best decision because I found it so much easier to just sit down and create the header.

About the new header…

The last couple of headers for the blog were pieces I drew on my computer, but recently I got a new Samsung Tablet that I now use for art. There’s one particular app that I use: MediBang Paint. This app is probably the best drawing app I’ve ever used (Adri and I plan to talk more about this app on a later post), and the standard brushes made it so easy to draw the design for this header. The one I specifically used to make the uncolored layer is the Rotation Symmetry Pen with these specific settings: opacity of 93%; width of 1px; 12 lines; color is black; and with “pen pressure size” and “opacity by pressure” checked (pictured below, click to enlarge). The Rotation Symmetry Pen is amazing. It’s my new favorite pen, because it makes patterns and backgrounds so much easier to draw.

Other changes…

Before I end this post, I want to talk about some of the other changes that I’m going to steadily incorporate onto the blog. I won’t stop writing reviews, participating in weekly memes, or writing about book related things—like book tags, lists, etc. However, the main change is that Our Thoughts Precisely isn’t going to be limited to just nonfiction, young adult, or middle grade anymore. I plan to do reviews for most of the books I read instead of limiting myself and what I can post to this blog. Other stuff includes just about anything I or my two co-bloggers want to write about. As such, I’ve changed the sort of byline for the header from “book blog” to just “a place for our thoughts”. What it comes down to is change. It’s easy to get comfortable with what I’m currently doing. However, sometimes comfortable is also stagnant, and that's exactly how I started to feel.

So, I think that about covers it. This post got a lot longer than I thought it would be, but once I started to write I figured out pretty quickly that I had a lot to say. I plan to overhaul a lot of the pages as well, and hope to be done with it soon. So, I'm going to spend the rest of the week making changes.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Quarterly Recap: April-June

Well, looking back at April, May, and June, I realized how much time I actually took off. However, it was kind of necessary because I've come up with some changes I want to make to the blog...


April Review:

May Reviews:

June Reviews:


Other April Posts:

Other June Posts:


I don't really have much to say for this section of the post, because I have a few upcoming things that will go more in depth with what I plan to do. So, it just wouldn't make sense to repeat some of those points.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Weekend Tidbits {#12}: Art Haul

I’m not going to bother with a long introduction because I meant to post this awhile ago (around Easter actually). This is just the kind of post that I kept adding to the longer it sat in the draft folder. Now that I've come back to it again and added a few more things to it, I figured that it was time to just post it so I can finally move on...
For Easter, I did some baking. The cookie recipe is Hershey's Doubly Chocolate Cookies just sans the chocolate chips, because they weren't necessary for what I was doing. I used the dough two ways: heart shaped cookies (pictured below) with the Wilton silicone heart mold, and the rest went to just ordinary cookies. The regular old cookies were used to make those sandwiches (pictured below). I also used up the left over candy melts from a different baking project, as you can see on the cookie sandwiches. The heart shaped ones also got a similar treatment, but I never got around to getting a picture of them before they got eaten. By the way, they were delicious.



In 2016, I focused more on developing my skills at digital painting, but this year I'm doing more than that. I've gotten back into painting by hand, and it's so much fun. It has been a long time since I’ve used watercolors, and I don't mean a couple of months. I'm talking about years. Yes, it has been that long, and during that time I lost my old watercolor pans as well as most of my supplies. So, I actually have a small art haul.

I picked up some Reeves Watercolour paints, new brushes, a watercolor pad, and a basic palette. I’ll probably talk about the paints later since I’ve only used them a few times. I also picked up some Papermate felt tip pens because they were on sale, and I wanted to try them. I’ve only used them a handful of times, but I love them so much. The colors are really nice and I’ve had a lot of fun just using them to doodle or quickly go over sketches. Like the paint, I'll probably have more to say about the felt tip pens once I've used them more than I already have. The last thing I picked up were two Gelly Role gel pens in white. My sister let me borrow hers, and I really loved how well the gel pens work for smaller details on top of the reeves paint. So, I felt that it was necessary to get my own since I plan on painting more.

Since I wrote this post a while ago, I've picked up more than just the above shown items. I've gotten some acrylic brushes, Reeves Gouache, and a new sharpener.
I forgot to mention this on twitter, but I picked up a few comics on free comic book day. I went to two different stores, but by far my experience at Ryan's Comics was the best. The staff was friendly, and they had a cosplayer by the door telling you about the event on the way in. So, there was no confusion about the event and how many comics you could pick. I've made purchases from Ryan's Comics before, and suffice it to say I will be going back again. 
 

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