Review: The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

I received a surprise copy of The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur last week. I had not really heard a lot about this book, but had seen it in stores.I decided to give it a chance, and soon I was hooked!

“Freshman year at Harvard–glamorous parties, blossoming friendships, steamy romances, and scandalous secrets. Skip the campus tour and get right to the good stuff: classes are for scoping guys (and their Facebook profiles), not taking notes. The library is for study dates (the medieval history stacks get a lot of action), not studying. And success is a 4.0 GPA… plus getting into the most exclusive parties. How will Callie–a California girl with brains, beauty, and big dreams–and her three roommates survive?”
–Description from GoodReads
Reading this book was a jaw-dropping experience for this gal from Texas.I mean, is college really like this for you guys on the East Coast?

This story was like a mix between Sex and the City and Gilmore Girls (You know, after Rory has left and gone to college…)

It is *definitely* a book for mature audiences.

There was adult language, sex, nudity and drug use.  Sometimes, lots of it.

Not that it bothered me, but readers should be aware as they pick up this title that the “young” in “young adult” really doesn’t apply here.

It was *so* interesting to learn about life at Harvard. I don’t think I would be able to hack it.

I think most girls can relate to Callie’s attempts to fit in in a place where what you look like matters more than anything else.

It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the parties and other social obligations.

Alexis Thorndale was a good antagonist — the perfect East Coast queen in her Chanel shoes and pearls.

There’s a good variety of characters in the roommates and the boys across the hall, as well as Callie’s love interests.

The only thing that really bothered me was the cliff-hanger ending. I know there will be more books in the series, but I really wish this book would have wrapped up her freshman year, instead of leaving us hanging at Thanksgiving break.

All in all, this was a good read that mature readers will enjoy. It made me wish that I was back in college!

**Disclaimer** A Hardcover Copy of this book was provided to me for review from the publisher, Greenwillow Books

Thanks to the publisher for the chance to read and review this book!

Braised Beef Brisket

I’ve made brisket before, but it was a *very* involved process with a dry rub, slow roasting, refrigerating and reheating. Talk about effort.
When I recently cooked for my *entire* family (we’re talking eight adults and two children) I knew I wanted to try a simpler recipe for beef brisket.
As always, the Pioneer Woman didn’t let me down!
This is an easy brisket recipe that was very tender and juicy.
It has a very soy sauce-y taste to it, but the boys in my family gave it a thumbs up!
Braised Beef Brisket
2 cans beef consomme
1/2 c lemon juice
1 1/2 c soy sauce
5 cloves chopped garlic
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
10-pound beef brisket
Combine the first five ingredients in a disposable aluminum pan for the marinade.
Add the brisket to the marinade, fat side up. Pour a little of the marinade on top of the brisket, to coat it.
Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
Once it’s had time to set, place in 300-degree oven and bake covered for 40 minutes for every pound.
Remove from heat and cut off the layer of fat.
Slice against the grain to serve. Mine was so tender, it just fell into pieces when I tried to slice it.

Happy Birthday Hyrum and Pappy!

Today is a very special day.
A year ago, my dad got the very best birthday present a grandfather could ask for — a grandson.
This is Hyrum, my super-cute nephew. He turns a year old today.
I won’t tell you how old my dad is.
But I wanted to wish them both a *very* happy birthday!
During Labor Day weekend, Hyrum came to visit from New Mexico and we celebrated his birthday a little early.
I made a smash cake and some cupcakes for the party.
At first, Hyrum didn’t know what to do with the smash cake.
Soon, though, he was covered in blue icing.
He had a lot of fun playing in the icing.
I think the cake was pretty good, too.
I have a TON of photos from the day. You can see them on my Flickr site.
Thanks so much for looking, and happy birthday boys!

BBAW Interview: The Bluestocking Guide

This is Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide.
I had the chance to interview her as part of the Interview Swap for Book Blogger Appreciation Week.
Brooke suggested that we record a podcast, which I thought was a great idea.
So, here’s the inaugural podcast from The Nerd’s Wife. It’s a bit long, but there’s some good stuff in there!
Interview with Brooke:

We also chatted a little about Mockingjay and our thoughts on the ending of the Hunger Games series. I broke that part up into a separate podcast to avoid spoilerage.

You have been WARNED — the following podcast contains MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS!!

Thoughts on Mockingjay:

In this podcast, we talked about Justin Hartley and Nathan Fillion.
I mentioned that you should check out the TV series Firefly (which aired in 2002…not 1997…whoops…) and the movie Serenity.
Thanks so much for visiting, and don’t forget to check out Brooke’s blog!

BBAW: First Treasure

This yearly event is a chance for book bloggers to come together to share their love of books and celebrate the wonderful community of book bloggers.

Every day this week, there’s a topic for participants to blog about.

Today’s topic is First Treasure.

Since I started blogging about books earlier this year (and this is my first BBAW), I’m going to share the first book blog that I found:

Forever Young: A YA Lit Blog

I found Jessica’s blog through the Nest Book Club, which is an online book club where we talk about the books we’re currently reading and discuss the monthly book club selection.

I had been lurking on the NBC for quite a while, when I realized how many of the awesome ladies there had book blogs. Jessica’s blog was on of the first I found.

I love that she focuses on YA. Before reading Jessica’s blog (and searching for other book blogs after I found out how much I loved it) I never realized how many adults read YA and aren’t ashamed of it.

I always felt weird going to the Teen section in the bookstore. Now, I go there with no shame.

Jessica’s reviews are great, and as a high school English teacher, she’s always looking for great reads for her students.

Forever Young: A YA Lit Blog is a great place to visit, especially if you love YA like I do!

Be sure to check out the other BBAW participants’ posts to see some other great book blogs we’ve discovered throughout the last year.

Thanks for looking!

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by The Story Siren.
It’s a chance for book bloggers to display the books they purchased or received for review each week.
I got some good books for review. 
I abstained from purchasing any books, at least for one week.
Yes, that is my darling niece, River, telling you that unicorns do, in fact, fart rainbows.
Thanks to the lovely Meg Cabot for her *awesome* story in Zombies vs. Unicorns. 
Featured Books:

The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
Release Date: Aug. 31, 2010
**Hardcover courtesy of Greenwillow Books**

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: Oct. 12, 2010

**ARC courtesy of Delacorte Press**

What was in your mailbox this week?

PS – Don’t forget to enter my BlogFest 2010 giveaway for copies of the newest Young Adult releases! It ends tonight at 12:00 EST!

Remembering 9/11

Stars and Stripes
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a junior in high school. 
I was 16 years old.
I remember walking into the hallway between classes and hearing people say that the World Trade Center had exploded.
I remember not knowing where exactly the World Trade Center was.
I remember thinking, “So what? How will this affect me?”
I remember slowly realizing the gravity of what was taking place.
I remember feeling scared and confused.
I remember sitting in physics class listening to the news broadcasts of what was going on.
I remember the second plane hitting the tower.
I remember being emotionally involved in something that was taking place hundreds of miles away from me, for the first time in my life.
I remember hearing reports that a group of passengers thwarted the terrorists’ attempts to send Flight 93 into the White House.
I remember wondering what I would have left as a message to my family members if I was a passenger on Flight 93.
I remember being amazed at the courage and strength of the rescue workers that day.
I remember how our country came together in a way that we had never seen before. And we haven’t seen it since.
I remember being proud to be an American, and for the first time ever, appreciating what that meant.
In some ways, I think our country has forgotten that patriotism that we felt in the aftermath of 9/11.
I tend to forget as I go about my daily life.
We live in an amazing country that was founded on the idea freedom and has fought for it throughout our history. 
Sometimes, it helps to just remember.
So that’s what I’ll do today.
I hope you join me. 

BlogFest 2010 Giveaway!

Happy Friday!
I am oh-so-happy to announce my giveaway for BlogFest 2010, which is taking place this weekend.
BlogFest is kind of a blog ring, where participating sites link to another site in the event. Each site is hosting a giveaway from 12:00 p.m. EST Friday, Sept. 10 through 12:00 p.m. EST Sunday, Sept. 12.
I’m really excited to take part in this event as first-time participant!
Be sure to read all the way down at the bottom of the post to find the next site in the circle you should visit!
Also, make sure you visit A Journey of Books to get the full details of BlogFest, find the tracking site to make sure you enter all the fabulous giveaways, and enter to win the BIG GIVEAWAY!!
And now, without further adieu, let’s get to the giveaway!


It’s been such an awesome few weeks with really great book releases.So, I thought I’d give you a chance to win some of these super-amazing titles!

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Rules: Only one entry per person.

You *must* be a follower of my blog to enter. 
To follow my blog, just click the “Join This Site” button on the right sidebar and sign in with your Google or Open ID account.
Already a follower? Great! You’ll get an extra entry for following my blog prior to this contest!

Once you’re a follower, just answer the questions in the form below and hit Submit!

This giveaway is open internationally.There will be *three* winners.

Winner #1 will get a choice of *two* books from the list.


Winner #2 will get a choice of *one* book from the list.

If I reach 600 followers during the contest, I’ll add Winner #3 with a choice
of *one* book from the list.
Woohoo! We reached 600 followers!

Winner #3 will get a choice of *one* book from the list.

If I reach 700 followers during the contest, I’ll add Winner #4 with a choice of *one* book from the list, and so on for each 100-follower milestone thereafter.

Books will be purchased by me from The Book Depository and shipped to the winners.
Increase Your Chances: Complete the following tasks to increase your chances to win!

  • +1 – Become a fan of The Nerd’s Wife on Facebook.
  • +1 – Follow The Nerd’s Wife on Twitter.
  • +2 – Tweet about this contest. Sample tweet: Enter to win new YA releases from @thenerdswife for #BlogFest2010. Enter here:
  • +5 – Subscribe to The Nerd’s Wife YouTube channel.

Contest ends Sunday, Sept. 12 at 12:00 PM EST.

Ok, now that you’ve entered my giveaway, head over to Say it Rah-shay to enter hers!

Rachée has a super-fun blog where she talks about books and other things going on in her life. I really love how bright and colorful her site is!

Thanks for looking everyone, and good luck!


Double Chocolate Cupcakes

We celebrated my nephew’s first birthday this past weekend. For the celebration, I decided to make cupcakes!
I wanted a rich and flavorful chocolate cupcake recipe. And I knew exactly where to turn: Annie’s Eats.
Except, I’m not as sophisticated as Annie, so there were no chocolate curls. And the chocolate ganache would have put these over the edge, so I didn’t include it.
If you want to see the instructions for Annie’s versions, visit her blog.
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted From: Annie’s Eats
Cupcake Ingredients:
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c hot water
3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 c unsalted butter
2 1/4 c sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 c sour cream, at room temperature
Cupcake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the hot water and cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and sugar on medium heat until the butter is melted.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium high until cool, about five minutes.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Mix in the vanilla…
And then the cocoa mixture and beat until combined.
Add half the dry mixture and mix on low. Add in the sour cream, and then the rest of the dry mixture.
Mix until completely combined.
Spoon the batter into cupcake liners in a muffin pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
While they’re cooling, prepare the frosting!
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
9 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
9 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 c powdered sugar, sifted
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of coarse salt
1 c plus 2 tbsp sour cream
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Directions:
Melt the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Set aside until just barely warm.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, cocoa and salt.
Mix in the melted chocolate and sour cream. Beat until smooth and creamy.
Frost cupcakes as desired.
This recipe makes a *huge* batch of cupcakes. I was able to make a dozen cupcakes and have enough batter for a small smash cake for my nephew. Annie got about 32 cupcakes from her batch.
These Double Chocolate Cupcakes are rich and yummy. They were the perfect treat for my nephew’s first birthday party! Protection Status