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 lots of books for review this week. It was a great week!
For Review:
**ARC courtesy of HarperTeen**

Dark Song by Gail Giles

**ARC Courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers**

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

**ARC courtesy of We Love YA Tours**

For My Collection:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

So, what did you get in your mailbox this week?

Happy Sunday!

Fragment Friday: Firelight

It’s time for Fragment Friday, a weekly featured hosted by Book Chic Club, where we get to read an excerpt of the book we’re currently reading or gushing over.
This week, I’m featuring Firelight by Sophie Jordan.
Seriously, guys, this book is *so* good. I’ll post my review early next week!
Firelight will be released Sept. 7, 2010.
Be sure to check out the other Fragment Friday posts by visiting Book Chic Club.Have a great weekend!

Fun With Uncle James!

A few weeks ago, my sister was in town visiting with her son, Hyrum.
That boy is a fireball. He’s *always* moving, *always* crawling, *always* wanting to go, go go!
One of his favorite things was crawling up and down the stairs with Uncle James.
I just have to say that seeing my hubby crawl around with this little guy kicks my baby fever into overdrive!
James is *so* good with River and Hyrum — he’s so patient and willing to play with them.
Seeing Hyrum’s little hand in James’ just kills me. 
Such an angel.
I want one! Now!
I guess I’ll just have to settle for nieces and nephews for now.
Thanks for looking!
This cute little boy bewitched The Nerd one evening. They soon became the best of friends!

Oatmeal Cookie Peach Cobbler

This past weekend, I decided to make a peach cobbler.
You know, summer-time in Texas and all.
So, I started searching online for the perfect recipe and I found this little gem. Oatmeal cookies and peach cobbler? Yum!
It must’ve been yummy because my family *devoured* it. Literally. It was gone in about 10 minutes.
Oatmeal Cookie Peach Cobbler
Adapted From: First Look, Then Cook
(I apparently only took a photo of the ingredients you need for the topping. Oops!)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
About 10 large sliced peeled peaches
1/3 c sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the sugar, butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and egg and beat until mixed well.

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low until well-incorporated.

Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Peel and slice just enough peaches to fill a circular pie pan. That was about 10 large white peaches for me. Aren’t the white peaches pretty?
Mix the peaches with all the other ingredients for the filling. Make sure the peaches are fully coated.
Coat the pie pan with cooking spray and pour the filling into it.
Dollop 12 scoops of the chilled dough on top of the filling.
Be sure to leave a few cracks — that’s what gives it its character!
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, until light brown and bubbly.
The chewy goodness of oatmeal cookies combines with the juicy sweetness of summer peaches in my Oatmeal Cookie Peach Cobbler. Yum!

Confession: I Like What I Read

I absolutely *love* to read.
I have loved to read ever since I was in third grade and we had to read Where the Red Fern Grows for class. I remember sitting in my mom’s lap as we read the story together and bawling my eyes out at the end.
I had never known anything that could affect me that much.
Reading shapes who we are. A good book can change your opinion on a topic. Characters become friends.
My favorite place in the whole world is the bookstore. Growing up, we would go out to dinner and go to the bookstore as a treat. My parents helped shape my love of reading, and to this day, when I feel sad, I like to go to the bookstore and bring home a new friend.
I started the What I’m Reading section of this blog to share my love of reading. I wanted to talk about the books that I enjoyed, and let you all know about them so you can enjoy them, too.
The best way for me to do that, so I thought, was to review the books I read. I decided to rate the books on a scale of five stars, because that’s how you can rate things on GoodReads. It would make my life much, simpler.
If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews lately, you’ll notice a recent crop of five-star reviews has made its way onto the blog.
Right now, I’m just loving what I’m reading.
I felt the need to talk about this, and try to explain myself, so I will stop feeling guilty every time I gush over a book and give it five stars. I want you guys to know where I’m coming from.
By no means do I wish to “go easy” on the authors. I hope you, my dear readers, don’t see my tendency toward positive reviews as a bad thing.
There are a few reasons why I think that lately my reviews have been so positive:
  1. I read books I think I’ll enjoy. It’s just not fun for me otherwise. I pick up a book because I think it will be a good read. And they usually are. I like to think I’m selective — there are hundreds of books I leave sitting on the bookstore shelf. Maybe I ferreted out the bad ones so you wouldn’t have to see them? Maybe?
  2. I don’t receive unsolicited books for review. This just hasn’t happened to me yet. My book review blog is still fairly new and I’m still getting to know publishers. I have yet to receive a book for review that I didn’t request. Which means, the chances of getting a poorly written book are slim.
  3. I request ARCs that interest me. If I request an ARC from the publisher, it’s book I’m pretty sure I’ll like. Something has sparked an interest in me, and I have the desire to read it. That usually means I’ll enjoy it.
  4. I YA. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult novels. I may even have to change this to a YA book blog. I can easily identify with the characters and most YA novels address common themes: identity, destiny and becoming who you are. Who can’t identify with that?
  5. I Paranormals. The subject matter in paranormal stories is really interesting to me — whether they’re werewolves or draki or Shadow Hunters, the mythology surrounding paranormal books makes me want to keep reading well into the night.
  6. Lots of good books are coming out lately. Mockingjay, anyone? Clockwork Angel? Paranormalcy? And some good ones are coming up: Firelight, Nightshade, Matched…It’s not my fault all these awesome books are cropping up.
Let me just say that I don’t think this is *wrong.* Maybe a better name for this part of the blog would be “Books I’m Gushing Over.” But you know, that didn’t fit with the whole theme.
Because it’s true: I have a tendency to gush.
And, I like what I read.
So – when you see a five-star review at The Nerd’s Wife, don’t roll your eyes and declare, “That girl would give five stars to a goat!”
I promise you, I wouldn’t!  
Well, not unless he was the *best* goat. Ok – maybe if he was a *good* goat. Sigh.
Just take the rating with a grain of salt and read what I have to say about the story. If it sounds like something you’d like, pick it up.
I hope you continue to enjoy the posts on What I’m Reading Books I’m Gushing Over.
Thanks for looking!PS – Here’s a rainbow and some sunshine. You know, ’cause I had extra lying around:

I tend to enjoy what I’m reading. As such, many of my reviews are positive. I confess my sins in this post.

Review: The Replacement

The first time I saw the cover of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, I was intrigued.I mean, it is creepy, creepy, creepy.

Now, I am *not* much of a horror person.In fact, I *hate* scary movies. So, I was a little afraid to pick up this book.

But I am *really* glad I did.

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret – he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?”

– Description from GoodReads

This is a really unique story. The world that Brenna Yovanoff creates is so creepy and dark.A town where infants are replaced with changelings, half-dead creatures that can’t survive in the human world, in exchange for the town’s prosperity?

It’s a very original concept in a genre permeated with stories of supernatural beings trying to come to terms with their individual destinies.

Yovanoff has taken that same, tired story and given it a fresh edge that readers won’t soon forget.

I loved that this was told from a boy’s perspective. Mackie is a likable character. And Yovanoff does  good job of portrayed a guy in a realistic way — yes, he stares at boobs now and again, but at least he doesn’t want to talk about his feelings while sipping Cosmos.

It’s amazing to me how everyone in the town seemed to know what was going on, but just wanted to ignore it. It’s very telling of human nature.

This was a fast read that was easy to immerse myself into. I lost myself in the world of Gentry and turned the final page wanting more.

There was a very Sleepy Hollow-like vibe that drifted throughout the story and made it even more interesting.

Brenna Yovanoff has a gem in this debut novel about dark destiny in a creepy small town.

It’s Book #4 in my 2010 Debut Author Challenge.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff will be released Sept. 21, 2010.
**Disclaimer** An Advanced Reading Copy of this book was provided to me for review by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers GroupThanks to the publisher for the chance to read and review this book early!

Skydiving With the Golden Knights

Last week, my dad had the chance to go skydiving with the U.S. Army Golden Knights, but the weather didn’t cooperate.
So, they rescheduled the jump for two days later.
And this time, it was on like Donkey Kong.
After hanging around and watching some other folks jump, it was time to get suited up.
Doesn’t he look dashing in his bright yellow jump suit?
Pretty soon, it was time to fly!
They went up in this plane…
And floated down to the ground!
Please forgive the glare in many of these photos. The sun was so bright and scorching hot — it was so hard to take good photos!
Here they are coming in for the landing.
Dad kept the form (Legs up! Back arched!) all the way to the ground.
Soon, they were nestled safely among their parachute.
Each jumper received a DVD of footage of themselves being interviewed before and after jumping, and footage of their freefall.
Doesn’t he look elated? He had such an adrenaline rush!
Here’s dad with his tandem partner, Jon, and the Golden Knights commanders, LTC Joe Martin and SGM Stephen Young.
They were a lot of fun and we had a good ol’ time.
Here’s Dad with the Army recruiter for his school, Sgt. Nguyen, and the GK commanders.
You may remember Jon from the Texas Rangers Game early last week. We’re glad he was ok!
Too soon, it was time for the suit to come off and the fun to be over.
I know Dad had a great time, and we’re so thankful to the Golden Knights for giving him the opportunity to do this!
Thanks for looking!

Review: Chalice

One of the first Sci Fi/Fantasy books I read (and loved!) was The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.I was immediately swept away into the story and couldn’t get enough.

That was 10 years ago.
I’ve devoured her books since then.Chalice is one of the best I’ve yet read.

As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master’s Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?

Robin McKinley weaves a captivating tale that reveals the healing power of duty and honor, love and honey.”

–Description from Goodreads

McKinley has such an amazing way with words. She assumes you know the logistics of the world from the beginning. Even though you have no idea at first what’s going on, you soon catch up as she flawlessly weaves details about the backstory in with what’s currently happening.

I was immediately drawn into Mirasol’s world, where bees are friends and citizens have a relationship with the land.

I could understand Mirasol’s love for the land, because I had experienced her memories as they were told in her dreams. McKinley doesn’t *tell* you what’s going on — she throws you in the mix and expects you to keep up. But she doesn’t leave you empty-handed. She gives you the information you need, without force-feeding it to you.

I love that. It is so refreshing, especially in Young Adult literature.

There’s not a lot of action, but enough intrigue and mystery to move the story along.

You’ll truly enjoy this story. I know I did!

Peanut Butter Cookies

I have a love/hate relationship with Peanut Butter Cookies.
I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, so I don’t particularly care for the flavor. I’ll eat them, I just don’t *love* them.
But, I do like the chewy texture of peanut butter cookies. It reminds me of the impossible chewy texture of Sugar Babies candy bars. Remember those? I haven’t had a Sugar Baby in forever.
All that’s to say that I love the texture that this recipe produces: Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies. Mmmmm.
Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 c shortening
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream the butter, brown sugar, shortening, vanilla and milk in a large bowl.
Add in the egg and mix to incorporate.
Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and mix to combine.
Scoop batter by the teaspoon and roll into a small ball, placing two inches apart from other cookies.
Use the tines of a fork to flatten the cookie and add a criss-cross pattern to the top.
Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. You want the middles to still look a bit undercooked — that’s where the chewy texture comes from.
If the edges start to brown, you’ve overcooked them.
Serve with a GIANT glass of milk, or if you’re lactose intolerant like me and The Nerd, an icy glass of Dr Pepper. :)
These Peanut Butter Cookies are soft and chewy — you’ll need a big glass of Milk to wash them down! Protection Status