Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

  • Tag: Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 14)
  • Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Cookbooks I’m thankful for
  • Tag: Musical Shuffle Book Tag
  • Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloane
  • Review: Proof of Collusion by Seth Abramson

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • nothing other than library books!

1 thing this week:

  • I’m in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving! I scheduled this post a whole week in advance.

Song of the week:

How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Proof of Collusion by Seth Abramson

Proof of Collusion by Seth Abramson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Source: Borrowed

For the first time, the full, explosive record of the unthinkable: how a US president compromised American foreign policy in exchange for financial gain and covert election assistance.

Looking back at this moment, historians will ask if Americans knew they were living through the first case of criminal conspiracy between an American presidential candidate turned commander in chief and a geopolitical enemy. The answer might be: it was hard to see the whole picture. The stories coming in from across the globe have often seemed fantastical: clandestine meetings in foreign capitals, secret recordings in a Moscow hotel, Kremlin agents infiltrating the Trump inner circle…

Seth Abramson has tracked every one of these far-flung reports, and now in, Proof of Collusion, he finally gives us a record of the unthinkable—a president compromising American foreign policy in exchange for financial gain and covert election assistance. The attorney, professor, and former criminal investigator has used his exacting legal mind and forensic acumen to compile, organize, and analyze every piece of the Trump-Russia story. His conclusion is clear: the case for collusion is staring us in the face. Drawing from American and European news outlets, he takes readers through the Trump-Russia scandal chronologically, putting the developments in context and showing how they connect. His extraordinary march through all the public evidence includes:

-How Trump worked for thirty years to expand his real estate empire into Russia even as he was rescued from bankruptcy by Putin’s oligarchs, Kremlin agents, and the Russian mafia.

-How Russian intelligence gathered compromising material on him over multiple trips.

-How Trump recruited Russian allies and business partners while running for president.

-How he surrounded himself with advisers who engaged in clandestine negotiations with Russia.

-How Trump aides and family members held secret meetings with foreign agents and lied about them.

By pulling every last thread of this complicated story together, Abramson argues that—even in the absence of a report from Special Counsel Mueller or a thorough Congressional investigation—the public record already confirms a quid pro quo between Trump and the Kremlin. The most extraordinary part of the case for collusion is that so much of it unfolded in plain sight.

Proof of Collusion is one of those books that I put on my Overdrive wishlist right after it came out and then just… didn’t read. Fast forward almost an entire year and I’m working at a job where I can just listen to audiobooks all day, so I decided to check it out.

This is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read about Trump. Forget Fear, forget Fire and Fury, Proof of Collusion is far above them. This is finally the well-written, well-researched, cohesive book I’ve been wanting to read about Trump’s campaign and presidency.

I’m not going to comment on the politics of this book. What I will say is that there is a lot of information here from a lot of sources. Sometimes Abramson would address a certain topic and I’d think, “Oh, wow, it’s hard to argue against him on that one.” Other times, I’d think, “Well… that’s a bit of a stretch.” A small nitpick is that the book can get pretty repetitive, but I’ve found that’s the case with a lot of nonfiction that I’ve read recently.

Overall, though, this is a very good book on the topic of Trump’s election and presidency and if that’s something that interests you, I’d highly recommend it.

Have you read Proof of Collusion? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.

Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.

When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

One of the things that I really love about being able to listen to audiobooks at work is that I have the opportunity to listen to things that I probably wouldn’t get around to reading otherwise. Sourdough is one of those books.

I didn’t really know what this book was about, just that I’d seen a few good reviews of it and it was available at the library. This ended up being a really fun, light read and a classic kind of feel-good book. I loved the Lois Club and originally I thought that the author made it up, but it turns out that it’s a real thing!

The underground world of the farmer’s market was so much fun to read about! More than anything, though, this book made me want to bake some sourdough bread. Even writing this review is making me hungry. I’m headed over to my library’s website now to see if they have Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Have you read Sourdough? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Musical Shuffle Book Tag

I was tagged by Jamsu to do the Musical Shuffle Book Tag! This tag was created by Bex @ Becca Leighanne, and it sounds super fun. I’m just going to put my whole music library on shuffle and see what I come up with.

(Today is a tag instead of a WWW Wednesday because I’m traveling for the holiday and wasn’t sure if I’d have time to write the post!)

The rules:

In this tag, we put the tunes on shuffle & with each song we list a character, a ship, a book — whatever book-related that the song reminds us of. Consider it their song. Let’s do it for 5-10 songs (y’all can be extra if you want. I love people who are extra) & then TAG 5-10 OF YOUR FELLOW BLOGGERS. 

[1] Hurricane by Something Corporate

Shake down, you make me break
For goodness sake, I think I’m on the edge
Of something new with you
Shout out, don’t drown the sound
I’ll drown you out, you’ll never scream so loud
As I want to scream with you

This screams friends-to-lovers to me, and not in a cute and innocent way. A book that I think fits that well is Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey.

[2] Are You Home by Broods

I love this song, but this is not a book that I’d love to read! This song is about suspecting that your significant other is cheating on you, and the most cheating-heavy book I’ve ever read is Always Never Yours.

[3] Sadie Hawkins Dance by Relient K

Sitting in the back of my next class, napping
Got up, gave a speech, then bowed to the clapping
Told a funny joke, got the whole class laughing
Think I got a tan from the light which I was basking

Well, that’s a throwback! I went to Catholic high school in the early 2000s, so Relient K was kind of a big deal. This song still makes me smile. But anyway, this song is definitely about a guy who loves to perform, so that’s got to be Tiny Cooper in Hold Me Closer.

[4] Enchanted by Taylor Swift

This is me praying that
This was the very first page
Not where the storyline ends
My thoughts will echo your name
Until I see you again
These are the words I held back
As I was leaving too soon
I was enchanted to meet you

I feel like this song is exactly what Arthur would have started singing after meeting Ben in What If It’s Us.

[5] Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie

Sometimes I forget how much I love Death Cab until one of their songs shows up on shuffle and I’m reminded… like right now. Anyway, Soul Meets Body is one of my favorites of their songs and I particularly like the verse about bad things coming to the surface, but everything feeling better afterward.

Well, I cannot guess what we’ll discover
When we turn the dirty with our palms cupped like shovels
But I know our filthy hands can wash one another’s
And not one speck will remain

This is very second chance romance-y to me, and one of those that I really loved that dealt with that theme was Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren.

[6] Don’t Feel Like Crying by Sigrid

First of all, this is MY JAM. But let’s see… a book in which someone dries their eyes because they don’t feel like crying. I think Catherine in Heartless would fit.

[7] The Mixed Tape by Jack’s Mannequin

I love this song so, so much, and figuring out a book or character or anything to pair with it was really difficult! I think the closest I can get, if I take the lines “I can’t get to you” and “Where are you now,” is Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh.

[8] Jesus Christ by Brand New

Oh gosh, this is one of my all-time favorite songs and I’m about to pair it with one of my least favorite books. To me, this song is all about having an existential crisis, wondering if there’s any point to anything, wondering what (if anything) comes after death, and hoping that you’ll be saved from all of this but not really knowing if it’ll happen. The book I can think of that best fits with that is All the Bright Places, which I absolutely despise, but it is what it is.

[9] Benson Hedges by fun.

So I drove until we both broke down
I was stranded in a border town
Believing the motel TV would bring me to safety,
But between MTV and Mr. O’Reilly
I’ve come to find, that I can’t be defined

The book that immediately came to mind, which is about a road trip and learning things about yourself, is Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart.

[10] Time to Dance by Panic! at the Disco

Alright, so this is possibly cheating because this song is actually based on Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. I think this verse best illustrates the book:

She didn’t choose this role
But she’ll play it and make it sincere so
You cry, you cry (Give me a break)
But they believe it from the tears and the teeth
Right down to the blood at her feet
Boys will be boys, hiding in estrogen
And wearing Aubergine Dreams (Give me a break)

I’m not going to tag anybody, but please feel free to steal this and share your selections! Do you like any of these songs? Would you have chosen different books for any of them? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Cookbooks I’m thankful for

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is a thankful freebie, and quite honestly, I’m running out of post ideas for this one. I’ve previously done blog-related things I’m thankful for, book bloggers I’m thankful for, books I’m thankful for

So, since Thanksgiving is all about the cooking, here are five cookbooks I’m thankful for and five cookbooks I’d be thankful to receive.

five cookbooks I’m thankful for

I just checked Goodreads, and apparently I only gave Homemade Pantry three stars when I got it. Well, flipping through it, I can’t help but be thankful for it. This is a cookbook that shows you that you don’t have to go out and buy everything that you use on a daily basis. A lot of things can be made from scratch, and for a lot cheaper than you can you buy it in a store. I’m definitely going to be trying the homemade vanilla extract recipe.

I have no choice but to include Betty Crocker’s Cookbook on this list. This is the cookbook that taught me how to bake pretty much everything. The first recipe I made from this cookbook was muffins — I think I was eight years old — and I’ve since made pancakes, waffles, biscuits, cookies, and more.

Dumplings are honestly one of my favorite foods, so learning the basics of wrapping and cooking them from Hey There, Dumpling! is something I can’t help but be thankful for.

I also really love Korean food, and it is expensive if you want to get it made right. (One time having cheap bibimbap was enough for me, thanks.) Thankfully, Koreatown is here to save the day.

Last but certainly not least is Sugar Rebels, a gift from my boyfriend that never fails to amaze me (and look great on a shelf). I’ve only made one recipe out of this cookbook so far, but it got rave reviews and I can’t wait to make more. This is the kind of cookbook you turn to when you want to bake something that’s going to impress a crowd.

five cookbooks I’d be thankful to receive

While I’m definitely not vegan, I appreciate a good vegan meal. In fact, there’s a great vegan restaurant just down the street from me and I’d probably eat there more often if my wallet would allow it. But anyway, I thought I Can Cook Vegan sounded kind of insulting when I first saw it in Barnes & Noble, but then I looked inside and those recipes look amazing.

I’m still sad that I never took a Milk Bar cooking class before I left New Jersey, so having Christina Tosi’s cookbook is probably the next best option.

I used to read the Serious Eats blog obsessively back in the day, and I’ve wanted to own The Food Lab ever since it was released. It’s just so expensive! One of these days it’ll be on my shelf.

Another food blog I love is Smitten Kitchen. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve made Deb’s zucchini fritters. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has been on my Christmas list for years.

The last cookbook on my list is from another food blog — Budget Bytes. I think Budget Bytes is basically the only reason I survived college. It taught me a lot of kitchen basics and a lot of staple recipes, some of which I still make all these years later. The best part, of course, is that all of Beth’s recipes are cheap. You’re not going out and buying luxury ingredients for any of her recipes, but they don’t taste cheap. This is one cookbook that I know I’d use regularly.

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! Do you have any favorite cookbooks or any that you want to buy? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Source: Borrowed

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

About a year ago, it seemed like the entire internet was reading My Sister, the Serial Killer. I couldn’t get away from it. Everyone was going on about how good it was, and I wanted nothing to do with it. And really, I had no intention of ever reading this one. But then I was sitting at my desk trying to figure out which audiobook to listen to next when I decided to filter by “most popular (global)” and “available now.” This book was at the top of the list.

This was a one-sitting kind of audiobook because I was absorbed from the beginning.

I guess, from the title, I should have suspected that family dynamics would play a big role in this book. Ayoola and Korede have a very strong relationship. They might not like each other all the time (after all, it must get tiring to clean up after your little sister every time she decides to murder someone) but they’re always there for each other, and despite everything, Korede is always trying to give Ayoola the benefit of the doubt. Their relationship ended up being my favorite part of the book.

For a book about such a heavy topic, it ends up being surprisingly light. There’s just enough humor mixed in with the serious (and, you know, murdery) topics to keep the book from feeling too weighed down. Yes, you’re reading about this cute young woman murdering all of her boyfriends, but while I was reading, I never had that moment where I thought, “Wow, I need to put this away for a second.”

It’s not often that the setting of a book plays this big of a role, either. The setting was so vivid that I almost felt like I was in Nigeria with Ayoola and Korede! The Nigerian police and their actions, in particular, really set this book apart.

All of that said, there were a few things that didn’t sit quite right with me. The biggest one that I can think of is that we’ll get a flashback to a much younger Ayoola and Korede that ends up having little relevance to the plot. The book is already very short (only 226 pages), so these scenes felt kind of like filler. I also felt like it wrapped up a little quickly, but I actually really appreciated how everything turned out in the end.

All in all, I enjoyed this one much more than I’d expected and would definitely recommend it!

Have you read My Sister, the Serial Killer? What’s the last hyped book that you enjoyed?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 14)

I was nominated by Trisha, Dini, and Shyla for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you all so much! ❤

If you’re interested, you can see the previous takes of this award here:
1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 910111213

Rules of the award:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate (at least) 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

11 questions from Trisha:

A book you pretend you’ve read?

I don’t think I’ve ever pretended to read anything! I will openly admit that I haven’t read a lot of classics or really popular books.

Recommend me a new book boyfriend. What makes him swoon worthy?

That’s a hard one! I haven’t found a good book boyfriend in a long time. I’ll have to go with one of my old standbys — Joshua Templeman from The Hating Game. Some things that make him swoon-worthy:

  • witty banter
  • works in publishing
  • will take care of you when you’re sick
  • seems mean but is just shy

I’m really selling him, I know. I promise he’s better than I’m making him sound.

A criminally underrated book or series?

The Story That Cannot Be Told deserves so much more attention than it’s getting!

How do you organize your bookshelves?

Well, they’re organized in a sort of rainbow, but then books come off the shelf and go back on and I just have so many books with black and white spines that it’s really just a mess.

Do you mostly buy new or used books?

Mostly used! If I can buy it used, I will.

What was the name of your first pet?

A goldfish named Jack. He lived three days.

Do you prefer first or third person?

It depends on what I’m reading, but usually first person. The vibe has to be right for me to prefer third person.

What is the last book you read out of your comfort zone?

Do I even have a comfort zone anymore? I kind of read whatever I feel like these days. I guess maybe The Kitchen by Ollie Masters. Mafia and murder aren’t really my cup of tea, but it was for a reading challenge.

What did you rate your last read and why?

I’m writing this a little bit in advance, so I’m sure I’ll have finished more books by the time this posts, but I finished Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen today and I rated it three stars. Honestly, I felt like it was a little longer than it needed to be and the characters’ lack of discussion of their relationship combined with all of the assumptions they made about each other frustrated me. That said, it was definitely one of the better erotic novels I’ve read, it actually had a plot outside of the sex, and the ending wasn’t ridiculous.

What’s most important, plot or characters?

This is the hardest question for me, because I find it really difficult to care about the plot if I don’t care about the characters, but it’s also really hard to care about the characters when they’re all sitting around doing nothing. But if I was forced to choose, I’d probably go with characters.

Do you read one book at a time or multiple at once?

These days, sometimes I’m juggling three or four books at a time.

11 questions from Dini:

If you could get an ARC of any one of your most anticipated releases, which would it be?

I would break my self-imposed ARC ban for Chasing Lucky.

What is your least favorite book you have read this year?

There have been some real doozies this year, but Little Birds, a collection of “erotic” short stories featuring racism, pedophilia, and bestiality, might take the cake.

What is a book or series that you feel is overrated?

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. A rant review is coming.

What is a book that you always recommend to everyone?

Probably The Hating Game. Just, like, constantly.

What is a hyped book you have no interest in reading?

It’s heresy, but I have literally zero interest in reading Ninth House. I was excited about it, but then I read a few lists of content warnings, and nope. Not for me. I prefer my books a little lighter than this.

What is a movie/TV show location that you want to visit IRL?

I’d love to have Bob make me a burger.

It’s a dark and stormy winter’s night. What book would you curl up beside the fire to reread?

I don’t really do rereads, but I’d love to curl up with either a fluffy romance or a fun graphic novel.

Would you only check out books from libraries or buy all your books new for the rest of your life?

Check them out from the library. My wallet can’t handle the amount of books I read.

What’s your favorite time of the day to to read?

Honestly, all day. I listen to audiobooks from about 8 am to 5 pm during the week, and then I do at least a little physical reading when I get home.

Best bookstore you’ve visited?

A Room of One’s Own is near my old college campus in Madison, WI and I didn’t think much of it when I was a student. I think mostly I was just annoyed with a professor for refusing to let the university bookstore stock the required textbooks and instead making me find this independent bookstore off campus. Well, I went back over the summer and it was great! I’d be there all the time if I still lived in Madison.

If you could have dinner with three authors who would they be and why?

  • Jenn Bennett, because she seems super nice, I love her books, and I’m jealous of her bread-baking skills.
  • Sally Thorne, because she also seems super nice and I’d love to talk to her about The Hating Game and Josh and Lucy.
  • R.S. Grey, because if she’s half as funny in real life as she is in her books, we’ll have a great time.

11 questions from Shyla:

Name one thing that you’re obsessing over / geeking out about these days!

Decorating my apartment! We just got the signed records up, and I have a ton of stuff — my favorite Saga issues, some set lists, some signed Playbills — framed and ready for hanging whenever I get the time. I also finally got my birthday present (a handwritten note from Jenn Bennett) framed and hung.

What’s a more appealing reading experience to you, series or standalone?

Definitely standalone! I’m terrible at finishing series and I hate cliffhangers.

Show off your latest book haul (purchase, gift, what have you)!

I actually haven’t had a book haul in a long time! The last gift I got was Jealous Revenge, but that’s an ebook so I can’t really show it off!

You’ve had a rough day, how are you going to spend your evening?

Great question. My preferred end to a rough day goes as follows:

  • come home, pet my cat a lot
  • take a nice hot shower
  • eat a nice home-cooked dinner with my boyfriend
  • watch a funny show, probably The Office
  • eat some ice cream or whatever kind of baked good we’ve recently made

Morning person or night owl?

I’m just a sleepy person. But I guess probably night owl. I have a lot of trouble falling asleep, so if I can sleep past 6 am, that makes life a little easier.

Are you pickier about food or books?

Definitely books! I’ll eat almost anything.

Name one bucket list item!

I’d love to be able to sit down with one of my favorite authors and actually have a conversation with them. I’ve met a few authors I really admire and I’m usually a jumble of nerves and barely able to get any words out.

If you could invent one thing, anything at all, what would it be?

Speaking of never sleeping, I’d love to invent a machine that would put me to sleep without any of the negative side effects of actual sleeping pills.

If you were starting University/College tomorrow, what would you major in?

Hmm, if I could do it all over again… I might do an English degree to make a job in publishing a smidgen more likely.

If you could travel to one book world, which would you choose?

Henrietta, Virginia. 🙂

Who would you cast as the lead in a screen adaptation of your favourite book (whether or not it already exists)?

I am very sorry, but I am terrible at fancasting. I have no idea where to even start.

If you want to answer these questions, please feel free! I’d love to see your responses. ❤ What’s your go-to book recommendation? Do you like to stick to one book or read multiple at the same time? Let’s talk in the comments!

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