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Show Us Your Books – October 2018

Happy Tuesday! And I hope you’re ready for another edition of Show Us Your Books! I also want to take a second to congratulate both hosts on the 4th anniversary of this wonderful linkup! I’ve only been doing it for a little over a year, but I absolutely love it, and I’m so happy to be a part of it now. Thank you, Jana and Steph for all you do to keep this going each month 🙂

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TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle – What I’m Reading in October

I’m going to say it, because I’m sure we’re all thinking it: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (Anne Shirley knows best.)

There is definitely a chill in the air. All I’ve wanted to do the past few days is hide under a blanket with a good book. I’m currently in the middle of A Place for Us, which is due back to the library later this week (and not renewable!), but after I finish that, here’s what I plan to read:

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Banned Books Week

If you’re involved in the book community at all, I’m sure you’ve heard that Banned Books Week is here! It started on Monday the 23rd and goes until the 29th. All this week, we are celebrating the freedom to read as well as raising awareness for books that have been challenged over the last decades. This year specifically, the theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories,” which is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship.

Books might be banned for all sorts of reasons, whether it’s considered anti-religious, has foul language, or is unsuitable for specific age groups. Unfortunately, this practice restricts us access to some of the best novels and educational resources ever written. You’ll find reviews of some of these books here — A Wrinkle in Time, 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale have all been banned. Plus, some of my all time favorites, including the Harry Potter series, A Prayer For Owen Meany and To Kill a Mockingbird, are repeat offenders. Of course, I still recommend them all wholeheartedly!

Thank you to Invaluable for creating and sharing this wonderful infographic of books that have been banned in the United States (also below). It includes modern favorites, classics, YA and children’s books — nothing is safe from the banned books list!

Are you surprised about any that made the list? What are some of your favorite banned books?

Banned Books Infographic

book review, of interest

The Dream Daughter + Copycat Mexican Pizza

The description for Diane Chamberlain’s “genre-spanning” novel The Dream Daughter promises it will be “irresistible.” In that, it was 100% correct.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Twenty-six-year-old Caroline Sears is pregnant when she finds out her baby has a fatal heart defect. In 1970, there’s nothing that can be done, and the news is devastating. Carly’s brother-in-law Hunter is a physicist, who came into their lives quite mysteriously a few years before. When he tells her he has a way to help her baby, she’s skeptical.

The book description doesn’t give too much away, beyond the fact that, what Hunter is proposing is inconceivable. To save her baby, Carly needs to be courageous in the face of the unknown. I’ll expand just a little bit more to say that how Hunter saves Carly is by helping her time travel into the future, a time when medicine has caught up to her baby’s needs.

I won’t give anything else away, but if I had known this was book involved “realistic time travel” — one of my absolute favorite sub-genres (think The Time Traveler’s Wife and the movie About Time) — I would have rushed to pick it up even sooner. After a few chapters in, when I figured out what was going on, I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down, and I stayed up until 1am one night to finish it (if you know me, that’s a huge deal; I typically go to bed around 10).

Oh my gosh, I can’t say enough good things about this novel. It was unexpected and clever. It definitely played with my emotions a little bit, but I didn’t even care. I was all in, and I loved every minute of it!

When Carly goes forward from 1970, a lot of things are unfamiliar. The technology, yes, but also the food. In one of the most amusing scenes, Carly’s host brings home some Taco Bell for dinner. Not only has Carly never heard of Taco Bell, she doesn’t even know what Mexican food is. She specifically calls out the taco, burrito and enchirito, but also mentions that there were a few other items on the table that were “alien” to her.

I like to think one of those was the Mexican Pizza, my absolute favorite thing at Taco Bell. I’ve been eating them since I was a young kid, and I like to think of myself as a Mexican Pizza aficionado. Regardless of what they ate for dinner they night, they ate Taco Bell, and this is my excuse to make a copycat version of the best food on their menu.    

For those of you who don’t know, a Mexican Pizza is definitely a loose interpretation of the word pizza, but it’s delicious, and that’s what matters. It has meat and beans sandwiched between two crispy tortillas; the top tortilla is covered in red sauce, cheese and tomatoes. (There also used to be green onions, back when I was little, so I brought those back into this homemade version.)

I found a recipe from Genius Kitchen to use as a guide, though having eaten an embarrassing number of these throughout my life, I probably could’ve figured it out myself. I did tweak it a bit to be closer to the Taco Bell version. Good news: Like the book, it turned out even better than I imagined!

To start, I prepared my taco meat (ground beef with taco seasoning) and warmed my canned refried beans. I also combined a can of red enchilada sauce (I used medium, you can use whichever spice-level you like best) with a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (drained) to make the pizza’s sauce.

Then, I prepared the tortillas. If you can find flat, roughly 8” corn tortillas, that would definitely make this experiences easier and quicker, but I couldn’t. I used the flour tortillas from the recipe. To get them crispy enough, you need to fry them in oil on the stove top — just until they’re golden brown and stiff.

They don’t need much time, about a minute or so will do it. You might need to flip and repeat on the other side (I did). Once all of your tortillas are ready to go, it’s time to assemble the pizzas.

Fried Tortilla

First, I spread a thin layer of the refried beans onto a tortilla and covered them with some of the ground meat.

Bottom Layer of Mexican Pizza

Then, I added another tortilla on top of that and carefully spread on some of the sauce and covered it with cheese.

Mexican Pizza

Then, I added my toppings — in this case, diced tomatoes and chopped green onions, but you could also add black olives (or anything else taco-y, I suppose). I wanted to keep it as close to what I’ve come to know-and-love at Taco Bell; plus, Scott doesn’t like olives.

Mexican Pizza with Toppings

Finally, I put the prepared pizzas under the broiler in the oven just to melt the cheese.

Mexican Pizza Taco Bell Copycat

They came out perfectly! If I’m being honest, even better than half the time I get them at Taco Bell (where the employees clearly don’t care if it looks as perfect as I’d like). It looked like something right off the menu.

I cut them in fours and served them up.

Mexican Pizza Cut

The best part? They tasted DELICIOUS. (And maybe even better than the Taco Bell version…)

Piece of Mexican Pizza

Taco Bell Copycat Mexican Pizzas

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 8 1/2 ounce package 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 10 ounce can enchilada sauce
  • 1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies drained
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 15 ounce can refried beans
  • 1 8 ounce bag Mexican blend cheese
  • 2 stalks green onions chopped

Directions

  1. Prepare taco meat per package directions.
  2. Warm refried beans.
  3. In a small bowl, combine enchilada sauce with diced tomatoes and green chiles.
  4. Prepare a small amount of oil in pan to 375°F (do not put so much that it will cover the flour tortillas). Cook flour tortillas in oil for 30-45 seconds or until just golden brown, flipping once. Drain on paper towels.
  5. To assemble: top 4 tortillas with a thin layer of refried beans, followed by a layer of taco meat. Put another tortilla on top of the taco meat. Add red sauce on top of the tortilla, followed by the Mexican cheese blend and then top with diced tomatoes and green onions if desired.
  6. Put finished Mexican pizzas on cookie sheet and broil in oven until cheese is melted.
  7. Cut into fourths and serve.

Recipe Notes

Slightly adapted from: Genius Kitchen

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This post contains affiliate links. This does not increase the price you pay, but I may receive a small commission for any products you choose to buy. Purchases made through affiliate links help to cover my blogging costs. Full disclosure here.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Fall 2018 Books I’m Excited About

Happy Tuesday — and even better it’s almost fall! I think I’ve been saying that off-and-on for the past few weeks, but no matter what the weather says, it’s actually coming. The calendar says Friday is the last day of summer, officially. In this week’s Top Ten Tuesday the bookish topic is Books on My Fall TBR, and these are the books that I’m most excited to see released this fall. Just two weeks until the first release date – I can’t wait!  

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Show Us Your Books – September 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means; it’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books! Compared to last month, which included a couple 2-star reads and a couple of DNFs, this one was AMAZING. I had 6 — yes, SIX — 4-star reads, which is pretty unheard of, for me. I love great reading months!  

But I’m also a little bit sick this week (I’m blaming it on the abrupt transition to fall from a week of suffocating 90 degree weather…), so I’m keeping my blurbs short and linking to full reviews in lieu of blurbs where I can. Know that I 100% recommend any of the 4-star books, and honestly, you should go read them now, if you haven’t already… Let’s get to it!  

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TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle – What I’m Reading in September

September is here and it’s exciting! Fall is coming… those cooler, breezy days that are perfect for reading. The end to the hot and sticky summer means it’s soon going to be comfortable enough (and acceptable) to bake all the pumpkin things. And, finally, I’m starting my September with four days off work, which means LOTS of extra time for reading. Yay!

Below is a look at what I plan to read in September — and make sure to check out the rest of book blogs for lots of other TBR fun. (Link at the bottom of the my post.)

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Top Ten Tuesday (Back-to-School Edition) – Non-Fiction I’ve Loved & Non-Fiction I Want to Read

Happy Tuesday! It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, a literary list with a new bookish topic every week. In honor of the new school year upon us, this week’s topic is a back-to-school freebie. Last year’s BTS edition was one of my favorite topics — and one of my more popular posts — so I struggled a little bit with what to choose this time around. I landed on one of the suggested freebie topics: Non-Fiction Books I’ve Loved & Those I Want to Read.

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I like to think it’s because I’m choosy about it. Obviously, non-fiction is great if you’re looking to learn something, but I also like it when that learning inspires me or sticks with me well after I’ve put the book down. I’ve decided to highlight five of the non-fiction books I’ve loved over the years, and give non-fiction books I hope will teach me something when I get to them!

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Show Us Your Books – August 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means; it’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books! I’ll warn you: it hasn’t been a great reading month. I had two 2-star reads and two books that I had to pull the plug on. On the plus side, my current read is looking promising, so I hope I kick off next month’s edition on a better note!

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TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle – What I’m Reading in August

Today, I’m excited to be participating a new monthly TBR linkup, hosted by Rachel at Never Enough Novels, Allison at My Novel Life and the wonderful bloggers at Literary Quicksand. For those of you who don’t know, in the bookish community, TBR stands for “To Be Read.” It can mean different things to different people; in fact, Book Riot has a wonderful post exploring all the possible definitions. To me, it just means a book I haven’t read but want to read eventually.

I have a TBR list on Goodreads that I add to regularly, and it currently stands at just over 400 books. I probably need to cull it down a bit, but I never want to miss a potentially good book! I don’t know if you know this, guys, but I’m a planner. When I go to sleep at night, I like knowing what my tomorrow is going to look like. I like knowing what my next meal (and the meal after that…and the one after that…) is going to be. When I finish a good book, I also don’t like to be left hanging without something lined up to read next. I think this list will help me stay on top of that, and so when Rachel sent me a note about their new linkup, it was all too easy to say yes!

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