Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Cookie Book Tag (Round 4)

It's December 25th, so Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has a great day. The year is almost over, and today we're going to do a book tag. It has been a year to the day since Adri and I participated in the Cookie Book Tag for the third time. And today, we're going to do it again to see how our answers do and don't differ. Before we begin, here are the more technical details about the tag.

The Cookie Book Tag was created by Nicole @ Sorry, I’m Booked. And you can check out the original tag post here: Sorry, I’m Booked, The Cookie Book Tag.

The rules…
  • Link back to the person who tagged you + the creator of this tag 
  • Pick a book that corresponds with the cookies theme 
  • Have fun 
  • Tag 1-3 people

Chocolate Chip: A Classic Book That You Love or Really Enjoyed (interpret classic how you want, it can be a classic written 100 years ago or 20 years ago)

Breana: The Lord of the Rings. I read all three parts this year, and I had a lot of fun with the story. It’s one of my favorites, and I’m glad I took the time to finally get it off my TBR list.

Adri: Treasure Island: fun little (but long) adventure book. If you’re looking for a girl-led remix of the story, then Clash of Steel is the book. I like the family based parts of each story.

Thin Mints: A Fandom That You Really Want to ‘Join’ AND/OR a Hyped-Up Book You Want To Read (your source(s) of a book being hyped can be from anywhere)

Breana: I have a couple of books for this one. In no particular order: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden, and The Girl in the Lake by India Hill Brown.

Adri: I’m looking forward to Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann.

Shortbread: An Author You Can’t Get Enough Of

Breana: Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex series is a favorite of mine. I’ve read up to the current book; although, there was a novella I haven’t gotten to.

Adri: I have two for this one: the late Mary Higgins Clark and Jacqueline West.

Samoas/ Caramel DeLites: An Emotional Rollercoaster (this cookie was hard … so any book that made you feel more than one emotion, strongly. The choice of emotions is up to you)

Breana:  I have to go with You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton. I went back and forth between bewilderment and surprise at how the characters got from point A to B to C and to D.

Adri: Her Honor by LaDoris Hazzard Cordell was an emotional rollercoaster. There were moments of sadness, sometimes disgust, but there were those happy moments too. Out of all the books I read this year, this one was the wildest ride I’ve been on.

Oreos: A Book Whose Cover Was Better Than The Story OR Vice Versa, Where The Story Was Better Than Its Cover

Breana: There weren’t any overtly bad covers that I can think of. The one for Aristocracy by William Doyle is kind of plain, but it was a short and informative read.

Adri: Like Breana, I don’t really have a book that fits this category this year. But, if I had to choose one, it would be The Way to Go by Kate Ascher. This is because the newer paperback version has a more striking cover than the hardcover, which is what I have.

Tagalongs/ Peanut Butter Patties: A Book That Wasn’t What You Expected (good, bad, or just different, interpret how you wish)

Breana: A book that wasn’t what I expected it to be was Natalie Starkey’s Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System. Going into this book, I had the expectation of a tour of the solar system through volcanoes. The book does just that, but it also dug its heels into the topic and did a deeper exploration of volcanoes on earth as well as how what we know about them can help us understand what’s going on with the geological activity of other planets. It was one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year.

Adri: When I buy old books from Better World Books (especially sewing and fashion), I usually estimate what it will be about. My recent purchase, The Vogue/Butterick Step-by-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques, was printed in 1989. It blew my mind, because it’s obviously for patterns, but the various sewing techniques help a lot anyway. It’s hard to explain.

Snickerdoodles: A Book You May Never Stop Rereading/ Loving

Breana: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I’m so glad I just bought a copy of the book, because I know I’ll return to it again in the near future. It was another one of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2021, and it was all about fungi.

Adri: Techniques from Casual Clothes from Threads, because there are so many techniques and patterns I want to try myself. So of course I have to read it many-many times.

Bonus: Choose a cookie I didn’t list and make up a question!

Our question from 2018: Monster Cookies have bold flavors and a long and varied list of ingredients such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, peanut butter, oats, and even sometimes raisins. It’s like a handful of cookie types mashed into one monster of a cookie. So… Monster cookie: name a book with a bold and whimsical title or a book title with four or more words.

Breana: I have three for this one: We Hunt the Flame, Six Crimson Cranes, and The Brilliant Abyss.

Adri: Let Me Call You Sweetheart, The Genome Odyssey, Mom & Me & Mom.


That's it for today. We tag you to do the cookie book tag to see how your answers differ (if you've done it before). If you're curious about our original take on the tag and our second and third try at it visit the posts HERE, HERE, and HERE

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

2021 Favorites

 


It’s almost December 31st. And, as 2021 winds down, it’s also time to talk about all of my favorite things from the year. 

Movies & TV Shows…

Surprisingly, I didn’t watch too many movies or try as many new shows as I thought I would have. I mainly rewatched old favorites when I happened to catch them. What I have, in terms of first time viewing, isn’t enough for it to get its own posts. So…

Some movies: F9, Poltergeist (1982), Nightbooks, Red Notice, Birds of Prey, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venome: Let There Be Carnage.

Some TV shows: Discovery of Witches season 2, SurrealEstate, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Gone For Good, Lost in Space season 2.

Books And Short Stories…

Generally, I liked most of what I read this year. I focused more on nonfiction as well as backlist titles and sequels that I’ve wanted to read. I didn’t get to all of them this year, but that just means I’m going into the New Year with a good-sized TBR list to keep me preoccupied. So, here are my favorite books from 2021.

Nonfiction...
Fiction...
The short stories...
Music…
2021 was a great year for music. It seemed like most of my favorite artists had new music coming out, and I discovered a few new bands and groups I want to follow. Below is a list of all my favorite albums and EPs I listened to in 2021. There is no particular order.
  • Alpha by CL
  • Planet Her by Doja Cat
  • Mini Mix vol. 1 and vol. 2, A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, and Mercurial World by Magdalena Bay
  • Last Year Was Weird Vol. 3 by Tkay Maidza
  • 1/f and Pink Noise by Laura Mvula
  • If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power by Halsey
  • Scaled and Icey by Twenty One Pilots
  • 2000AND4EVA by Bree Runway
  • The Bitter Truth by Evanescence
  • Montero by Lil Nas X
  • Harenchi by Chanmina

And that’s it. I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. I will see you all in the New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Music Monday Christmas Edition: Baby Tate, Celtic Woman, The Whispers, Ahmari Lia, Nat King Cole

 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 
Breana: With our break from blogging and the end of the year approaching, it's time for the Christmas edition of Music Monday! Today, we're sharing more festive music.

My pick this week is another song from Baby Tate's XMAS. It's called Last Xmas. Honestly, it's one of my favorites from this particular album. 


My second pick is Ave Maria by Celtic Woman. Recently, I caught one of  the more recent Celtic Woman specials when it came on TV.  I used to really enjoy the ones that came on during the holiday season. So I was a feeling little nostalgic for some of their older music. This is one of my favorite versions of Ave Maria.



Adri: Here's some more Ahmari Lia, All I Ever Wanted (This Christmas). I'm also listening to Nat King Cole's King Of Christmas.



Andrea: I'm listening to Kiss Me It's Christmas by Leona Lewis featuring Neo and Happy Holidays to You by The Whispers.

  



Have an amazing, safe, and Merry Christmas!


What are you listening to this holiday season?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Break Notice

Well, it’s that time of year again. With the New Year right around the corner, it’s time for us to take our annual break from blogging. Any posts that appear after this one were scheduled at a prior date. We’ll still be around on social media (like twitter, goodreads, and Instagram), as well as to answer comments on the blog. Until then, we hope everyone has a great holiday season, and we’ll see you in the New Year. Happy reading!



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Favorite Recipe: Homemade Soft Pretzels

 


It’s been a long time since I last talked about what I’ve been cooking or baking on the blog. However, I had to dust off the Favorite Recipe post graphic for this. I finally tried making homemade soft pretzels again, and I found a recipe that’s super simple and tastes great.


The first time I ever tried to make homemade soft pretzels, it didn’t turn out so great. It was years ago, and I was trying a different recipe that I don’t even remember now. The dough didn’t come out right, it was tough to shape, and something was off with the flavor and texture after the baking soda bath + baking.
Fast forward to the end of October 2021, and I had a craving for soft pretzels and wanted to try my hand at making them again. So I did some searching, and I came across the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I gave it a try, and it was easy to make. Before writing up my experience making them, I did two batches on separate days. The first try, I didn’t get the process pictures. So of course I had to make them again!
It’s incredibly simple to make these—few ingredients, short resting time, clear measurements. The dough was simple to mix up and easily shaped. Nothing stuck when I moved on to the boiling, and they baked in 12 minutes once in the oven. They not only smelled like pretzels, but they tasted like them with the texture I was looking for.
I followed the recipe exactly, except for the type of salt I sprinkled on top before baking. I used table salt instead, because I didn’t have fine sea salt on hand. They still tasted great anyway. But you can definitely go with the coarse kind, since it’s standard for soft pretzels.
Overall, this is a great recipe, and I know I will make these again in the near future. Have you made homemade soft pretzels before?


[**Note: photos include (1) the dough after it rested for 10 minutes, (2) the shaped pretzels in the baking soda bath, (3) the pretzels after they were boiled and dusted with salt, and (4) the baked pretzels.**]

Monday, December 13, 2021

Music Monday (183): Baby Tate, Pentatonix, TLC, Boyz II Men & Brian McKnight, Ahmari Lia

 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 
Breana: I had no idea Baby Tate had a holiday album. I know her music best by her features with other artists like Bree Runway and Tkay Maidza. I've been listening to a lot more of her music lately, which is how I ended up finding XMAS. One of my favorite songs is Light Up The Tree featuring NoGum Hundo.

 

Adri: This week I'm listening to some more Christmas music, this time from a small artist. My picks are Last Christmas But it Hit's Different and Christmas is Here by Ahmari Lia.



Andrea: This week I'm listening to The Prayer by Pentatonix, Sleigh Ride by TLC & Let It Snow by Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight. 




Have an amazing week!


What songs are on your go-to holiday playlist?


**Note: Adri is starting her break from blogging early, so Andrea and I will be around to answer comments**

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Review: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

Title: Entangled Life
Series: n/a
Author: Merlin Sheldrake
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House Trade; May 12, 2020

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave. In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake's vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the "Wood Wide Web," to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision. Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life's processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms--and our relationships with them--are changing our understanding of how life works.

Toward the end of October, I needed to cleanse my palate before I dived into more fiction. So I picked up one of my recent purchases: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. It’s been on my TBR since last year, and I was excited to finally read it. I can officially say that I enjoyed this book. It was an excellent read that had a lot to say on the subject of fungi.

“Fungi are everywhere, but they are easy to miss.”—pg.3

I am not a big fungi enthusiast. I like Portobello mushrooms, and that’s about as far as it ever went. So Fungi aren’t a subject I’ve read too much about in the past. I was instantly intrigue by the idea of Entangled Life, especially after I read Peter Wohlleben’s The Heartbeat of Trees and was looking for something similarly nature science related. That book was a closer look at trees and forests. On the other hand, Entangled Life looked farther down the trunk of a tree, at the ecosystems right beneath our feet. What was revealed was an incredibly complex and interesting narrative that focused on what was taking place above and below ground. The book delved into how it was all connected, what fungi had to do with the development of the environment (based off what some studies had to say about it), and what role they could ultimately play in the future.

Entangled Life is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year. I’m glad to have a copy of this book on my shelf, because I know I’ll ultimately return to it again and (probably) again.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Music Monday (182): Tinashe, Keith Urban, BRELAND, Nile Rodgers, Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton, Soul Central and Billie

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 
Breana: I'm still listening to Tinashe's Comfort & Joy. Another one of my favorite songs is Angels We Have Heard On High.

 

Adri: My pick this week is In-Ten-City by Soul Central featuring Billie. All I have to say is that I love a good play on words.


Andrea: This week I'm listening to Out The Cage by Keith Urban Featuring Breland & Nile Rodgers. Oh the greatness featured on this song. My Christmas song for this week is You Make It Feel Like Christmas by Gwen Stefani featuring Blake Shelton.



Wishing you and your family the best this holiday season!


What are you listening to this week?


Friday, December 3, 2021

The Friday 56 (210) & Book Beginnings: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

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.


Synopsis from Goodreads...
When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave. In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake's vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the "Wood Wide Web," to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision. Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life's processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms--and our relationships with them--are changing our understanding of how life works.


Beginning: "I looked up toward the top of the tree. Ferns and orchids sprouted from its trunk, which vanished into a tangle of lianas in the canopy."

56: "Over short distances, substances can be transported through mycelial networks on a network of microtubules--dynamic filaments of protein that behave like a cross between scaffolding and elevators."


Comments: Entangled Life has been on my TBR since 2020. I finally got around to it, and it's one of my favorite nonfiction reads of the year. What are you reading this week?

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