0
Browsing Category

of interest

of interest

Show Us Your Books – December 2018

Can you believe it’s almost 2019 already? This year has positively flown by. Perhaps that’s because I’ve read so many stories and visited so many different worlds this year — for the first time ever, I’ve completely 100 books (and I’m still going)! It feels amazing to have accomplished that, and at the same time, I’m not sure it’s something I want to repeat. Even with my blog, for which I have to carefully reflect on the books I review, I can barely remember most of the books I’ve read.

Since we last met for SUYB, I’ve finished 11 books — four of which I finished in the 5 days of the Thanksgiving Readathon. That’s a lot to catch you up on, so I’ll try to keep it brief!  

Continue Reading

of interest

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

Wow, I can’t believe December is here, and next year is just around the corner! I reached my reading goal of 100 books just last week, so from here on out, all the books I read will be superfluous. I might slow it down a bit — catch up on some TV shows (here’s looking at you, The Great British Baking Show!) — but we’ll see. I usually have a book nearby, regardless of my goals.

Without further ado, here’s a look at what’s on my radar for December:

Continue Reading

of interest

2018 Thanksgiving Readathon Announcement

I am so excited that the Thanksgiving Readathon (hosted by one of my favorite blogs, Death by Tsundoku) is almost upon us! Last year I participated for the first time and read WAY more than I expected. I actually have less going on this time, but I’m trying to keep it a low-key, no pressure situation (as intended) to help balance the “I have a ton of books I have to read right now” overwhelming feeling I have going on. Either way, I’m hoping this readathon helps me knock some of these off my list!

Here’s about more about what I’m hoping to crack into:  

The Line That Held Us by David Joy – I have no idea how this got on my TBR, but it did and I need to read it before it’s due back at the library on Monday. I re-read the description and it sounds good, plus it’s short and thriller-esque, so I’m hoping it proves to be a quick read!

The Adults by Caroline Hulse – I got this one from NetGalley three months ago — the holidays seemed so far away then! But, now it’s coming out on Tuesday, which I also planned to be my review post day, so I guess I need to get started! Thankfully, this one feels like the perfect read for this time of year. (I’ll be reading this on my Kindle, not pictured.)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Our book club is meeting the Monday after Thanksgiving to discuss this book (and we already pushed it back once, at my request), so I really need to get this one read.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – Another book club is meeting on Thursday the 29th, so I have a little more leeway to get this one finished. Still, if I can at least start it during the readathon, I think I’ll feel a lot better.

I’ve also added By the Book and Marilla of Green Gables to the pile, mostly because I really want to read them, and a little bit because they’re both due to the library next Friday (and I can’t renew them because lots of other people want them…). These would be major bonuses if I get to either one of them.

Make sure to follow me on Instagram and/or Twitter for updates.

If you’d like to join the #ThanksgivingReadathon, check out Death by Tsundoku for more details!

Last but not least, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving – full of food and family and books 🙂

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Items I’d Like to Own

It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday — and it’s a really good one! As much as I enjoy topics that result in lists of awesome books, I absolutely loved making this week’s list. It’s perfect if you’re already making your holiday wish list or just looking to add more bookish things to your life. Without further ado, Ten Bookish Items I’d Like to Own. (Friends and family, take note!)

Continue Reading

of interest

Show Us Your Books – November 2018

I’ve been in a bit of an overwhelming book situation lately. In addition to the usual book club reads, I’ve had more-than-usual ARC obligations and a towering pile of library books to make my way through before their due dates. I haven’t read any more than usual — even though I really need to. I’m hoping some upcoming vacation days and my participation in the Thanksgiving Readathon will help me catch up!

Here’s a look at what I read over the last month and the three books I’m working on right now. Continue Reading

of interest

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

I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. Not so much in the quantity of books I’ve been reading — because it’s still an average amount for me — but more in the amount of time I’ve been able to devote to reading lately. I also have a lot of library holds coming in lately, and I feel like I’m drowning in them and unable to catch up :/ I need a good long weekend full of reading — and some good books to help me do it!

Here’s what I’m planning to tackle in November. Let’s hope some of these are contenders!

Continue Reading

of interest

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 🙂

Continue Reading

of interest

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:

Continue Reading

of interest

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.