Monday, May 19, 2014

Regan Has Too Many Books, the Read-A-Thon

Good evening, fine folks!

As stated in my previous post, I will be participating in Regan from Peruse Project's (YouTube) read-a-thon that she dubbed "Regan Has Too Many Books".  This was a kind of spur-of-the-moment thing she decided to do so it's meant to be more relaxed than this past week's read-a-thon.  Everyone will be using the hashtag #shitihavetoomanybooks to connect on the Twitters.

This gives us all the perfect opportunity to hack away at our to-be-read piles.  Heck, let's make every week a read-a-thon because I have about four hundred books in my house that I haven't read.  (I really wish I were joking.)

What do I plan on reading this week?  That's a grand question.  I don't want to make a huge, overly specific list for the week; however, I'm going to make a few books my priority.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling



I started reading this book during the BoB RaT last week but only made it 217 pages.  Only 435 to go!  Man, I sure am loving this re-read.

2. The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman


3. The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman


4. Damned by Chuck Palahniuk


This is one of the two books by the beloved Chuck Palahniuk that I haven't read.  He's one of my absolute favorite authors and I cannot wait to get into this book!

So there you have it!  I may stray from these four if the mood strikes me, but this is what I think I'll get to this week.

Are any of you planning on participating in this Regathon?  Let me know down below what you're reading this week!

As always, thanks for reading!  Have a marvelous night!

- Jess 


 

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon Wrap-Up & Bob the Rat

Good evening, lovelies!

The Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon has officially reached its close!  Congratulations to us all!  We made it!



My initial B.O.B.R.A.T. (Bob Rat... isn't that awesome?  I'm using this forevermore!) goal was ten books.  That seemed a little steep to me too; however, I did manage to read seven!  I'm not overly impressed with myself, but I'm pretty content with that many.

Let's review:

1. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman - 156 pages; rating - 5.0/5.0 stars
2. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman- 218 pages; rating - 5.0/5.0 stars
3. Let The Storm Break by Shannon Messenger - 381 pages; rating - 3.75/5.0 stars
4. Doll Bones by Holly Black - 247 pages; rating - 4.0/5.0 stars
5. The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present - 215 pages; rating - 4.0/5.0 stars
6. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate - 201 pages; rating - 2.0/5.0 stars
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (re-read) - 870 pages; rating - 5.0/5.0 stars

I also began re-reading the sixth Harry Potter book, so here's my progress with that as well:

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling - 217/652 pages

This brings my book count to 7.3 and my page count to 2505.

I don't exactly feel like I read THAT much, but seeing those numbers makes me feel pretty darn good about this week.

How did y'all fair in your reading challenges this week?

Regan from Peruse Project on YouTube is having a low-key, unofficial read-a-thon this week to keep the reading flow going, so I may participate in that one as well.  It starts tomorrow (well, technically today) so we will see how many books I can read this week!

Please let me know down below what you read this week and, if you've read any of the books I read, what you think of them!

Thank you all for reading and have a GLORIOUS night!

- Jess

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon Update [Day 5]

Good evening, folks!

How goes the reading?

Mine obviously isn't going too great because, as you can tell, I've been spending a lot of time on the Internet!

Thankfully I had a really good reading day and I'm now up to the following books...

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

 

 I am so thrilled to be re-reading this series this year because these books are just SO GOOD.  I can't wait to re-read them for a third time.  This book is my favorite of the seven, so I especially loved diving back into this world and experiencing Dumbledore's Army and Professor Umbridge all over again.  Naturally, this book gets another 5.0/5.0.

6. Doll Bones by Holly Black


Holly Black does creepy very well in this coming-of-age adventure story of three pre-teens in North-Eastern America.  I was expecting this to be either super creepy or not creepy at all because of the middle grade quality; however, the balance is perfect.  You get creeped out, but aren't terrified.  Doll are just creepy, especially those haunted and made from the bones of a dead little girl.  Yep.  Creepy.  I gave this a 4.0/5.0.  It hit home in more ways than one and it was just an overall entertaining read.  I recommend it!

7. Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger


This book is the second book in the series and I found it just as entertaining as the one before it.  It isn't like these books are beautifully written - they aren't; however, they are so different from so many YA fantasy novels.  Sure, the basic plot points are the same, but this book is about SYLPHS.  They are these people who can control the winds and do some pretty kick ass things by wielding its power.  You still have your typical bad guys, good guys, and high school romance, but Messenger also presents you with something that is entirely unique.  The story kept me invested and I can't wait for the next book.  I gave this one a 3.75/5.0.

I'm only seven books into my reading goal, but I'm still pretty proud of it.  Hopefully I can make one final push and get a lot read over the next two days!

Good luck to all of you participating!

Have a beautiful night!

- Jess

The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus Cover Reveal

'

This post is pretty self-explanatory. 

Isn't this cover a beaut?

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for this book to come out this fall.

We're counting down the days, Uncle Rick!

What do y'all think of the cover?  Which one is your favorite of the series?  Let me know down below!

Have a lovely evening!

- Jess

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon Update [Day 4]

Hello, beauties!

I hope you are all having an amazing week of reading.

My reading goal for the Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon was ten books.  So far, I've read 4.5.

That isn't horrible by any means, but I am now staring a full weekend of work in the face, so I don't know how many books I'll make time for over the next three days.

Here are the books I've finished so far:

1. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman


I'm not entirely sure if I am going to review these volume by volume, or if I'll wait and do a brief series re-cap when I reach the end.  Either way, I can say that these books get better and better with each volume.  They offer so much beauty and darkness within each one.  I'm a huge fan and give this one a 5.0/5.0 stars.

2. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman





Again, I loved this volume and it somehow managed to be better than its predecessor.  I, of course, give it a 5.0/5.0 stars.

3. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate


If you're a fan of the Fallen series, you may like these novellas as well.  However, if you're like me and only like the first novel and continued reading the series only out of a morbid curiosity, then do not read these.  They just weren't good.  I have no attachments to any of the characters whatsoever.  Had I just read the series, I would have liked them better.  Reading them so many years later was just a disappointment.  I hate to say it, but it was just overall pretty boring.  It gets a 2.0/5.0 stars in my book.

4. The Art of Maurice Sendak from 1980 to the Present by Tony Kushner




This book was extremely interesting, filled with a wealth of information I never knew about Sendak as well as a huge collection of his gorgeous artwork.  While the writing wasn't particularly engaging, this is a great read for fans of Sendak's work.  I learned so much about him and saw many pieces from collections I didn't know existed.  I gave it a 4.0/5.0 stars.

So far, I've only finished these four books.

I'm halfway finished with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but, as this is my favorite in the series, I am taking my time with it.


Are you guys and gals fairing well with your reading goals this week?  Comment below and let me know!

As always, thanks for reading and have a beautiful evening!

- Jess


Credit Card Fraud and Being Banned From Book Outlet

Having someone use your credit card to go on a shopping spree can be a financially crippling invasion of one's privacy.

Having that shopping spree be on something you love most in the world?  That's just a huge slap in the face.

At the end of last year I decided to check out this mythical place called The Book Outlet online.  I had a handful of $5.00 coupons given to me by a friend, so why not?  Who doesn't love cheap books? So I did, and they had cheap books galore.

Before I ever got around to placing my first order, I saw where around $500.00 had been charged to my credit card on The Book Outlet.  I only wish that would've been my order.  $500.00 on books?  Man, that'd be sweet! 

So I had my card cancelled, contacted the folks over at TBO online, and went through the necessary channels to stop the money from going through.  To make a long story short, I now have a new card and my credit card company ruled in my favor and credited the money back to my account.

However, I didn't realize until today that I am expressly forbidden from using The Book Outlet ever again.  I assumed that having a brand new card would solve the problem and I could create a new account and begin cashing in on their awesome deals! 

That isn't the case at all.

According to them, the fraud that I "claimed" on my previous card renders my purchases as liabilities.  Since the company took a hit and the merchandize was never accounted for, they do not want to risk any further orders from yours truly being fraudulent.

Now, being that I have a delicate disposition, this was a huge blow to me and my sensitive feelings.  This conversation hurt me!  "They're accusing me of lying? They don't know me!"

I suppose I never realized that TBO is such a small company.  Otherwise, I doubt this conversation would've ever taken place.  I mean Wal-Mart wouldn't care if they were in their shoes, but they're a huge corporation.  TBO apparently is not.

Naturally I have a friend who has an account and I order books through her account all the time, so it isn't a huge to-do.  It just sucks.

Now I have this huge shadow cast over me by book-lovers who think I'm a book thief, and not the wonderful Markus Zusak kind!  It's pretty disheartening.

Naturally by biggest heart-stabbing moment begs the question: "Whodunnit?"

This is where I totally sympathize with TBO. 

There were two separate orders placed on The Book Outlet that totaled over $500.00 and a handful on Amazon that, thankfully, I caught in time to cancel.

Here's the rub: TBO orders were addressed to me and were presumably taken by the crook himself. 

Do you follow?

They know me.  Or at least know of me. 

This makes things awfully personal.

Either:
1. Someone out there is my undiscovered nemesis who has intentionally been making life very difficult for me
2. It's just someone (local) who happened upon my credit card information by hacking into my
 computer/accounts
Or
3. It's someone I know, who possibly accessed my computer right under my nose and came back later for their stolen merchandize.

(In retrospect, I don't know how my credit card company filed in my favor.  The only thing I had going for my case was the fact that TBO was in contact ABOUT my orders with an unknown email address that is no longer in existence.)

I like to think I don't associate with a lot of crooks, but we've been known to throw many an unsupervised party where strangers have come and gone at their own volition.

Having folks steal from you sucks.

Having an awesome, outlet book store ban you sucks.

Yet there are lessons to be learned here.

For one, never put all of your information on a computer that doesn't have a password.  I trust entirely too much and this is definitely a huge mistake. 

In fact, don't have ALL of your information in ONE place.  Use complicated passwords that are hard to hack.  Never save any financial information that could be accessed by anyone.

Just be smart, folks, unlike me.

Have a glorious evening!

- Jess









Monday, May 12, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon

Hey, y'all!

At the very last minute I decided to participate in this year's Bout of Books Read-A-Thon!

 
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

I'm pretty excited about this!  I have never done a read-a-thon before so I'm a little anxious.  I'm aiming for a very ambitious week of reading, but you never know how these things are going to turn out.  Here's what I'll definitely be starting this week:

1. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman


2. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman


3. The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman


4. The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman


5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling


6. Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One) by Jay Kristoff


7. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate


8. Written in Red by Anne Bishop


9. Let The Storm Break by Shannon Messenger


 10. Doll Bones by Holly Black


This is awfully ambitious, but why not, right?  It's my first read-a-thon so I might as well be a little crazy.

What are you guys reading this week?  Are any of you participating in the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon?  Comment below and let me know!

Thanks for reading and have a glorious evening!

- Jess

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reading Goals for 2014

I've been thinking about writing this post and making an accompanying video for a few months now.  This is definitely something that would have made more sense around the first of January; however, I thought that, seeing as the year is almost halfway over, I might be able to help some folks who are struggling to reach their goals by sharing mine.

Since I managed to reach around one hundred books last year without any strife, I decided that I would get a little ambitious with my goal for this year.  This brings us to goal number one.

1. Read 150 books

This goal is pretty straight-forward and the following nine all tie into this one as well as with each other.  It may seem like a way too ambitious number to some or even a small goal to others, but I really like this one.  If everything works out and I hit my mark, I'll probably up my ante to two hundred next year.  I love to challenge myself with ridiculous goals.  The process ends up being really fun win or lose because even if I only read 50% of my intended total, that's still one hundred books.  I would certainly be happy with that number.  There is no sense is stressing over something so fun!

2. Keep a notebook 

Lists are some of my favorite things.  I use them for everything: day-to-day tasks, shopping, packing, future plans, impossible dreams, etc.  Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than a list.  There are so many people who are visual like myself, so I think everyone should do this. 

At the beginning of the year, once I'd decided on my book number, I took out a binder filled with empty pages and I began making a list.  I listed the new 2014 releases that I couldn't wait to get my hands on, the books I was planning on reading soon, etc.  The next few goals further explain how I made my book list, but the point is that I made something visual.  Sometimes, when I can't figure out what I want to read, I walk through my house and stare at my shelves.  There are six shelves in my house, so this usually takes some time.  Having a list of books is a simplified version of that.  Whenever I'm trying to figure out what to read next, I look at the list.

My main reason for doing this is because it's important to reward yourself.  That's the whole point of having this notebook.  There is so much satisfaction in striking through something you had on a to-do list.  While my current list is double the size of the one I started with, it's still thrilling to finish reading a book, flip to it's title on my list, and draw a line through it.  It was helpful to start with 150 books that aligned with my goals, but you definitely do not have to strictly keep to that number.  By all means, add books to your list as you go!  There is nothing wrong with straying from the list.  It only serves as a visual guide to help you meet your challenge.  If you keep your goal too rigid, reading can become more of a chore and push you into a huge slump.

I've also been numbering my read books as I go as well as writing the month.  This helps me keep up with how on or off track I am as well as see which reading months were my best and worse.  I love lists, so this is a super fun thing for me.

I started doing this before I knew Goodreads had the reading challenge on their site, but I'm thankful for that.  I do try to keep my Goodreads updated as I go, but I prefer having the tangible list in my hand.  This is something I plan on doing year-to-year forevermore.

3. Diversify genres

This really ties in with the next few goals, but it's important to acknowledge separately.

It's okay to love a genre.  Reading is a beautiful thing, regardless of what you choose to read; however, it really helps you grow as a person to diversify your reading materials.

In December I was on a total Young Adult kick.  In fact, I can't recall reading anything but YA that entire month.  PulseIt.com had a free YA book you could download from their website every day, so it really kept me in the mood.  Then January started closing in I realized that I needed to mix things up a bit.  There are experiences and situations I just won't encounter in YA.  Excellent, ground-breaking books exist in every genre across the board, so you really miss out when you stick to one thing.  (This goes for life as well.)

I made sure to focus on diversity when I began making my book list.  I mixed up the genres as completely as I could including, but not limited to:

A. Modern Fiction
B. Classics
C. Graphic Novels
D. Children's Books
E. Youth Adult
F. Mystery
G. Fantasy
H. Science Fiction
I. Nonfiction
J. Manga
K. Short Stories
L. Poetry

You get the picture.

By including so many different types of literature on my initial list, I'm more likely broaden my literary horizons this year.

4. Read the books you said you read but haven't

This one may seem kind of silly and doesn't include everyone, but it still seemed like something fun to include.

I read an article on Huffington Post or Buzz Feed that was something along the lines of '25 Things to do When you Turn 25' or '30 Things to do Before You're 30'.  You know what I'm talking about.  We've all seen these types of articles around the internet.  On this particular one it said to basically do this very thing, and it got me thinking...

If I had never read Harry Potter and someone asked me about it, I might be tempted to lie and say I had.  I mean, chances are I would have seen a movie or two and probably even knew who killed whom by now.  They've only been around for EIGHTEEN years.  Surely people would think I lived under a rock (and I would have to, right?) if I never got around to reading this series.  I'd be embarrassed.

There are a ton of examples like that that vary from generation to generation, subculture to subculture.  We avid readers often get embarrassed when we haven't read a super popular book.  Some people think,"She/he likes to read, they HAD to have read This Book!"

We definitely wish that was the case, but it just isn't.

Let's say we humans lose the ability to write/type and all publications stop.  Boom.  No more books will ever be written or released for consumption.  Even if we did nothing but read for the rest of our lives, we wouldn't be able to read everything.  There are just too many dang books out there, and that's an impossibly glorious thing.

Whoops, I started to ramble there.  The point is: we are human and we lie.  We feel ashamed.  It happens.  It's natural.  This goal is to actually catch up with things we might have said over the years.

For me it wasn't so much as "I told Jenny I read This but I actually didn't" than me rating things on Goodreads in a rating frenzy last year.  Sometimes I'll just go through and be like,"What? I haven't read that! Well, I'll go read it right now so I don't have to un-mark it..."  There aren't too many on my list, but I liked the idea of incorporating these into my reading goals.

So, you know all those books you've been pretending to have read over the years?  This is your year to catch up with your stories!  No harm, no foul.

5. Read the books you're embarrassed about having not read

This is so close to the fourth goal, but it connects with me personally on another level so it gets its own number.

Confession: I've never read Beowulf.  Yep.  I've gone through twenty-six years on this planet and an English degree in college without having ever read Beowulf.

It may seem like an impossible feat for a well-read individual, but the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized: it isn't.

When my advanced eleventh grade English class was reading George Orwell's 1984, the regular level eleventh grade English class was reading George Orwell's Animal Farm.  That is why I read Animal Farm this year: it was on my list.  I just missed it in my curriculum and frankly I was embarrassed.  The same thing goes for Beowulf.  The regular tenth grade English class read this in high school while I was in advanced classes.  The British Literature classes read this in college the year my Honors British Literature class didn't. 

There are several books that have ended up on my list this year because I missed them in my curriculum or have never made the time for them, and most of them are classics.  It's embarrassing not to have read Beowulf when I love literature, it's like missing The Canterbury Tales or The Odyssey. 

This year provides me with the perfect opportunity to knock a few of these off my list and finally figure out what all this hullabaloo is about.

6. Step outside of your comfort zone

It's hard to read a book when you aren't in the mood for it.  There is currently a 1200 page high fantasy novel that was released this year that my friends have been pestering me to start reading.  I get it, they are eager to discuss it, but I'm just not feeling it.  The length is daunting and I have to be in the right mood for high fantasy which lately I haven't.


When I was making my list I decided to incorporate books that I wouldn't normally choose for myself.  I decided the best place to go was directly to the people: Facebook.  I posted a status asking people to recommend some of their favorites books to me.  A few of them I'd read, but the books I hadn't (most of which I'd never even heard of) I added to my list.

Discussing something you love is an easy way to connect with someone, and books are how I often connect with friends, family, and acquaintances.  There is something intimate about reading someone's favorite novel, as if it has pieces of them scattered throughout its pages.  You can get to know a lot about someone by reading their favorites and sometimes you end up finding a new favorite book of your own.

I'm really bad about stepping outside of my comfort zone when it comes to books, but it's another part of personal growth.  I still haven't read my best friend's favorite book, but I definitely will this year because its important to him.  I would never chose a Star Wars book for myself, but I could end up loving it.  I won't know until I try, so it's one of the several books that has made my 2014 book list.

7. Diversify authors

The racial identity of an author never occurs to me when I read a book.  Sometimes I know they are white or black, American or Chinese beforehand because I've seen them in photographs or in interviews; however, I usually don't pay attention.  Typically the sex of the author is easy to determine by the author's name, but that too has never played a part in my expectations, understanding, or selection of a novel.  Why would it?  This isn't 1870.  Books sales don't reflect anything but the story itself.


This year I decided to change that.  For the same reasons it's important to read unfamiliar genres, it's important to read books by a diverse group of authors and hear their many voices.

On one hand, I've never really paid attention to this, so I don't think its hugely important.  I can understand why you may not care, because, before this year, I didn't either.  If you can't tell, if a certain aspect about the book doesn't make it "obvious", why should it matter?  Isn't it racist to make assumptions or even care?  You're just reading for a good story.

On the other hand, I think our backgrounds, race, and nationalities make us unique individuals and writers.  My writing would, presumably, be different than a grown man who grew up in North Korea.  At least you'd expect as much, right?  Reading his novel may allow me to experience a style or voice that reflects his unique heritage.  Then again, maybe not.

I'm going to use an obvious example: race.
 
Alice Walker lends a unique voice in The Color Purple just as Alexandre Dumas does in The Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite book of all time.  Most people assume Walker is black and that Dumas was white based on their novels; however, Dumas looks, according to records regarding his physicality, black. (He was mixed; his grandfather was a French noble and his grandmother was an African slave.)  I use these two examples because calling attention to this almost seems as racist as ignoring it.  On one hand, the race of these two authors doesn't make the reading experience any different.  Here it's 138 years, two countries, and different social classes that separate these two pieces of literature.  That's the beauty of a story: it can tell all of our secrets and keep everything about us locked up at the same time.  On the other hand, if you were to make racial assumptions about the authors based on their novels without actually knowing anything about them, you resign yourself to ignorance.  I'm not saying you're ignorant if you read what you want based on the story alone; essentially that's exactly what we should be doing.

The important thing is to expose yourself to a multitude of different writers.  Be knowledgeable and open yourself up to more than the middle-aged white women writing mystery novels or the newly wedded housewives writing Paranormal Teen Romance.  (See? More stereotypes.)  Of course each one of those ladies has a unique way of spinning her web of stories that sets her apart, but read a love story by a Chinese dude and be open-minded.  See if they are different or similar in any special way.  Realize it doesn't matter either way but you're better for having experienced it.  Read stories about slavery without assuming they're by African Americans and don't be shocked when the action-packed revenge story of a sailor who becomes a count is by a black man.  Old white men can write manga and teenage girls can write horror stories.  Just experience it!  Support authors from different backgrounds.

Racism is still a huge issue in this country, so I kind of went off on a tangent there.  I'm sorry about that.  This certainly isn't just about race; it's as much about sex, age, and nationality.  The fact that most authors on the best sellers list are white people isn't some type of a hate crime.  Books typically get elevated on their owns merits; however, it's important for each group of people to be recognized in literature and, sadly, they are not.

That's just another goal for me this year, mixing up my reading list in terms of the authors in addition to the genres.  If nothing else, it'll be interesting to compare those statistics at the end of 2014.  I think I'll be much better off for it.

8. Re-read

Re-reading old favorites is something I have wanted to do for a long time now and there is no time like the present!

Harry Potter was the first series that joined my list.  I love these books so much.  I'm currently in the middle of The Order of the Phoenix and the experience has been lovely.  These have also been good buffers when I'm in a bad reading mood or I can't get a feel for what book I want to read.  This series never fails to lift my spirits and get me back in the reading mood.  I'd forgotten how quickly huge books go by when you're so deliriously in love with them.

There are other books that have made the list, but Harry Potter is the most monumental series I plan on tackling.

9. Read the books that have been on your shelf the longest

This one also ties into my other goals.

I have tons of classics that have been on my shelves for years and I'm definitely going to knock a handful of them out this year.  Some I'm embarrassed I haven't read yet because they seem pivotal to literature as a whole and others have just been waiting for me to get in the mood.  Either way, this is the year!

10. Write reviews

This last one is pretty self-explanatory as well.  I've been trying to get better about writing a little review every time I mark a book as 'read' on Goodreads, but I've been neglecting my blog terribly.  I'm failing this one pretty hard, but there's still time to make up for it!


While I simplified the list to ten, I also want to do the following book related things this year:

- Get my YouTube channel active by filming my book reviews
- Watch book-to-movies adaptations regularly and write reviews

I hope this crazy, ranty nonsense helped you if you've been in a big reading slump or if you've had a slow start to your reading year.  Please let me know if you have any questions by shooting me an email at thejessdujour@gmail.com or commenting below.

As always, thanks for reading and have a glorious day!

- Jess



Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Very Percy-nal Post

It's no secret how I feel about the Percy Jackson books: I love them.  Actually, that goes for anything Rick Riordan has ever written.  The man is brilliantly talented and I will buy everything he has published forevermore.  

Naturally, I own the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books; however, I am suddenly tempted to buy another set in paperback just so I can own these gorgeous covers.

Take a look:






Aren't they stunning?  The artwork is so beautiful.

This gorgeous box set will be released Tuesday, June 3rd and is currently for pre-sale on Amazon for a measly $20.80.  I'm not made of money either, but come on - that's a fantastic price for a box set of five phenomenal books.   I'm not going to go as far as pre-ordering, but I have a feeling that some day these will be mine.

Thankfully we don't have to wait TOO much longer to read something by our beloved Uncle Rick.


"The Staff of Serapis", a crossover story featuring Percy's own Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane from the Kane Chronicles, was published on April 8th with the paperback edition of The Mark of Athena.  This short story follows "The Son of Sobek", a story featuring another Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles crossover involving Percy Jackson and Carter Kane.  "The Son of Sobek" was published with the paperback edition of The Serpents Shadow May 7th of last year.  


If you would like to read these two stories without having to purchase multiple copies of the Heroes of Olympus novels, "The Son of Sobek" is available in audiobook as well as for e-readers.  It is currently listed on Amazon for $1.99 for Kindles.  "The Staff of Serapis" will be released for e-readers and on audiobook on May 20, 2014.  

This year is going to be a very big one for Rick Riordan.


Percy Jackson's Greek Gods will be released on Tuesday, August 19th.  This book is an informational guide to the Greek gods.  While it will certainly be educational for those with mythological interests, it is also sure to be a hysterical read with Percy Jackson as its narrator.  I have never been a huge fan of novellas or books published to accompany a series; however, I am definitely looking forward to this one.  Percy has had some fascinating encounters with the gods, and most of those have left him worse off.  Coupling the mythological history with Percy's humor is what makes the series so entertaining for me, something I expect this to show up in this novel as well.  His snarky comments will no doubt make this read worth my time if nothing else. 

I am also thrilled to have a physical copy of this book instead of it only being released for e-readers.  I have no immediate plans to buy a Kindle, Nook, etc., so I have never acquired a taste for novellas or spin-offs.  Publishing these types of stories in hardcover and/or paperback is something I hope to see more of in the future.  I'll gladly give them my money! 

While we (thankfully) get a few morsels from Uncle Rick throughout the year, the main course isn't until Tuesday, October 7th. 






The Blood of Olympus is the highly anticipated, FINAL book in the Heroes of Olympus series.  While Riordan may pick up theses characters again some day or even write a crossover series with demigods and the Kanes, this could very well be our last romp with Percy Jackson.  That definitely invokes a ton of emotions in this reader and I am sure in many others.  While we aren't ready for the series to end, we are more than ready to have this book in our hands.  Heck, even a cover photo would be nice.  Riordan stated that, as per usual, the cover will be released sometime in June.

What do you anticipate for the future of our favorite demigods?  There are a ton of morbid predictions, so I am doing my best to stay away from Tumblr and other fan sites.  Maybe we'll have yet another "Rick-hanger" and the last page will say,"SURPRISE!  THERE WILL BE ANOTHER BOOK!  SEE YOU NEXT OCTOBER!" 

Maybe not, but one can dream.

The most recent news regarding the Percy Jackson film franchise is that The Titan's Curse is on hiatus.  Originally expected to be released December 2015, the film will most likely not see fruition.  Percy Jackson and the Olmpians: The Lightning Thief was released in 2010 and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters came out just last year.  Were you a fan?  Most of the diehard children's series' fans thought the films were atrocious.  It's hard to judge a book-to-movie adaptation on a solely, stand-alone basis.  I have a difficult time doing that very thing, which puts me somewhere in the middle regarding the films.  In spite of the low ratings, there were as many things to enjoy as to be desired when judging the film on its own merits.  If nothing else, Logan Lerman, who plays Percy Jackson, is delicious eye-candy. 

What are your expectations for the two books coming out this year?  Have you read the short stories?  If so, how'd you feel about them?  Did you like the movies?  Leave your answers and comments below!


Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a fantastic evening!

- Jess

Begrudgingly Belated

Remember that time I forgot to post for nearly two months?  Yeah, that happens.

Seeing as my last post involved my cooking experiments, I thought I'd share what delicious concoctions I've been whisking up while I was away. 

After my time-consuming exploration of ricing cauliflower, I ended up with a ton. Making cauliflower pizza crust was at the top of my list.  

I started by covering one cup of cauliflower rice with a wet paper towel and cooking it in the microwave for one and a half minutes. The rice was left to cool for a moment before I emptied it into a dry paper towel and squeezed the remaining water out of it.  It formed a nice ball that I easily added into a mixture of egg, Parmesan, mozzarella, Italian seasoning, garlic, and salt.  

Once everything was mixed together it formed a very wet dough that shaped easily.  I patted it down thin onto a sprayed cookie sheet.  The dough easily makes holes, so be wary of the thickness; however, holes are also easily repaired. 


It looked and smelled fantastic, but I was nervous about the excess moisture. I didn't want my pizza to have a mushy, eggy center.  Oddly enough, my first attempt was perfect!  It wasn't until my second attempt (when I doubled the recipe) that I encountered that problem.  The crust turns out perfectly when it's kept between 12 and 15 inches in diameter and patted out thinly enough.  If you want more pizza, I suggest just making two! 

While my crust was cooking, I was busy slicing up my toppings!  I kept my jar of marinara and leftover mozzarella on standby, sliced fresh tomatoes and mushrooms, and de-stemmed kale.  I also bought a bag of pepperoni that was begging to be eaten. (Note: next time I am definitely using fresh basil in lieu of pepperoni and kale).


After about fifteen minutes of cooking at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, my dough was beautiful and ready for toppings!  (The dough itself feels like quiche because of the egginess.  It was fun to poke! :] )

Here are my ingredients for my first attempt at this recipe:

  
The dressing process took just a moment and was quickly ready to pop back in the oven. 


I cooked the pizza a few more minutes just to melt the cheese and crisp my pepperoni.  Then it was ready to come out! 


Doesn't that look gorgeous?  I assure you, it was awesome.  I have made this pizza several times since this first night, adjusting the recipe based on reviews and suggestions from friends; however, the original recipe is by far the best.  Extra egg makes it too runny and it doesn't cook as thoroughly; extra cheese is unnecessary and only adds to more calories; etc.  

Overall, this recipe was pure perfection.  It was delicious and I couldn't tell that I wasn't eating bread, which is awesome because I can't live without it.  I've tried.  Life without bread is depressing, but thanks to cauliflower, it doesn't have to be so glum.  

There are a few changes that I've made over the last couple of months to which I will furthermore adhere: 

1. I no longer add salt. In my opinion, it just doesn't make a difference and only increases sodium.
2. I only use one third of the suggested amount of cheese and most of that is for the topping.  Instead, I add a teaspoon of inactive yeast flakes for a cheesy taste without the calories.
3. Mozzerella, tomatoes, and basil. Forever. 

Eventually I hope to cut out using marinara from a jar, although Ragu has been really good to me in these tasty recipes.  I'd like to have a go at making my own red sauce with fewer calories and without the tremendous amount of sodium usually found in these grocery store options.

Later in the week I used my remaining Parmesan to make some tasty asparagus as a side dish that I make quite often.  Asparagus, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese: simple perfection. 


If you would like either recipe to the aforementioned dishes, feel free to send me an email or comment below!

I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading!

Have a glorious day!

- Jess