Monday, December 31, 2012

My Life According to the Books I Read in 2012


Instead of doing a long babbling post on how my year was, I am doing a personal, yet still book-ish, review of the year in the form of this fun meme, hosted by Christine at The happily ever after:

Describe yourself: Debutante by Thomas Galvin

How do you feel: Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Describe where you currently live: A Trick of the Dark by B. R. Collins

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: A Kingdom of Dreams (Westmoreland #1) by Judith McNaught

Your favourite form of transportation: Moonsong (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #2) by L. J. Smith*

Your best friend is: Kindred Hearts by Rowan Speedwell

You and your friends are: Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie

What's the weather like: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

What is life to you: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Favorite time of day: How Huge the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn

Your fear: Torment (Fallen #2) by Lauren Kate

What is the best advice you have to give: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

Thought for the day: My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares

How I would like to die: Awakened by a Kiss by Lila DiPasqua

My soul's present condition: Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat


fireworks_thumb

As this is it for me in 2012,
I wish you all a great and safe New Year's Eve
and
Happy New Year
in every aspect!

2012 Overview and 2013 Goals


2012 WRAP-UP:

READING:

I challenged myself to read 50 books: I read 41. I also read 8 books which I did not count among the 50 books challenge because they were either rereads or not written and/or translated into English. And it still doesn't make 50.

Rating stats – according to my Goodreads ratings, though I rated several books with half-stars:

Did not rate: 0
* not strange: 0
** a little strange: 2
*** strange enough: 17
**** very strange: 14
***** beyond strange: 8

You can see the list of books I read and their reviews HERE

I'm not too disappointed by not making my goal, though, considering the reading slumps (I'm currently in one of those, too) and other issues, together with the fact that I could find a lot of books I really liked, I'm okay with my reading in 2012. However, I will try to improve in 2013.

BLOGGING:

I took blogging a bit easier in 2012 than before. I didn't to as many memes as before, but I did try to keep up with the book and film reviews. I had some read slumps, so there were fewer reviews due to that. I joined some tours and readathons, which were fun as always. I also discovered some new blogs I love.

2013 GOALS:

READING:

I'm challenging myself with reading 50 books, so let's see if I make it in 2013. Above all, I hope I'll find more books that I can really enjoy. Quality should come before quantity, after all.

BLOGGING:

My blogging goals are very modest, basically just keep blogging. I'll try to post twice a week, mainly reviews, and an occasional meme. I might join a tour or two, and try to make a Cat Diary post, hopefully once a month.

I've neglected the social aspect of blogging lately, which I'm sorry about, so I'll try to improve in that area and comment and connect with other bloggers more.

How was you reading and blogging in 2012 and what are your goals for 2013?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
May you days be filled with love and peace!

christmas-cards

Friday, December 21, 2012

Prometheus (2012)


prometheusDIRECTOR: Ridley Scott; CAST: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender

SUMMARY (from IMDB): A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

MY OPINION:

The promo and the summary for Prometheus are rather misleading, since the film shows very little of the epic battle and discoveries they mention. There is not much of a plot either, and the characters are pretty much stereotypical and mostly flat.

Interestingly, the most complex character is the one that is not supposed to be complex – David, a robot, very well played by Michael Fassbender. Charlize Theron in a supporting role of a cold and bossy Miss Vickers does a very good job, too. The same goes for Guy Pierce. Which made me think, what on earth came over the casting staff to put such excellent actors in minor roles? Oh, well.

Some scenes in Prometheus are really gross, and I admit I looked away a few times (squid- and reptile-like aliens and crawly things are really not my thing).

The story is basically a mess, although it does have a few good points.

Here are the things to learn from Prometheus:

  • Don't dig up things that have been buried for centuries/millennia, there is probably a good reason for it.
  • Don't go places you are not supposed to go. Again, there's a reason for it.
  • Don't touch unknown substances. No need for explanation here.
  • And: some questions are better left unanswered.

Overall, Prometheus wants to deliver a fascinating story about the search for the creator of the mankind, but it turns out rather stupid. In the end, Elisabeth Shaw, the main protagonist of the film, continues to chase the answer, even though she proves her own survival depends not on the truth but on what she choses to believe, which ultimately gives her strength to go on.

3 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Despite all the hype, Prometheus is a rather mediocre film. If you like science-fiction, it might provide a good way to kill some time with, but don't expect too much.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

My top ten books I read in 2012 in random order (linked to my reviews with summaries):

  1. How Huge the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn
  2. Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
  3. The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott
  4. Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James
  5. Deep Kiss of Winter ("Untouchable", Immortals After Dark #8) by Kresely Cole
  6. Debutante by Thomas Galvin
  7. My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares
  8. The Collector by John Fowles
  9. A Kingdom of Dreams (Westmoreland #1) by Judith McNaught

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Virtual Advent Tour 2012: Potica


virtual-advent-tour-05In the spirit of the season, I am participating in 2012 Virtual Advent Tour, hosted by Kailana from The Written World and Marg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader. Head over to Advent Blog Tour to see the schedule and visit other participants’ posts.


In Slovenia, the traditional dessert we cannot do without on holidays, especially on Christmas and Easter, is called potica (pronounced paw-'tee-tsa). It's basically a roll cake.

The most common is potica with walnut filling:

YEAST:

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water Sprinkle sugar over yeast and add warm water. Let it stand until twice its original volume.

DOUGH:

5 cups flour (4 cups to start, adding additional flour as needed)
1-1/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum (or vanilla)
1 grated peel of lemon
Pinch of salt

Mix softened butter, sugar and egg yolks until the sugar is well dissolved and mixture is frothy. Set aside. Warm up the milk, mix in salt, lemon peel, and rum, and add to the butter mixture. Form the dough out of the 4 cups of flour, yeast, and milk mixtures. The trick is not to pour in all the milk mixture immediately; use about 3/4 to start with, then add more as the dough forms.

Beat with electric mixer until smooth and elastic. Then keep adding flour as needed, and mixing with a wooden spoon until of consistency that dough can be handled without sticking. Place dough on floured board and knead for about 15 minutes, adding flour as needed to make a non-sticking dough. Place dough in a well-greased bowl; turn dough upside down to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours until double in bulk. While dough is rising, prepare filling.

FILLING:

6 cups finely ground walnuts (approx. 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb.)
1 cup finely ground golden raisins
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup thick cream (or 1/2 and 1/2)
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
3 egg whites, beaten stiff

Mix walnuts and raisins, and grind them together to keep raisins from clumping. Combine all dry ingredients. Warm the cream and honey, and melt the butter in this mixture. Add cream mixture to dry ingredients and mix completely. Fold in beaten egg whites last. Let filling cool as you roll out dough.

Roll out dough on table covered with a tablecloth well sprinkled with flour. Roll out to 1/4" thick, 18" x 24" or bigger. Spread cooled filling over entire dough evenly. Start rolling up dough by hand, jelly roll fashion, stretching dough slightly with each roll. Start at an 18" edge and roll in the 24" direction. Keep side edges as even as possible. Continue to roll by raising the cloth edge slowly with both hands so the dough rolls itself. Dust away any excess flour on the outside of the dough with a pastry brush as you roll. Prick roll with a toothpick as needed to eliminate air pockets.

With the edge of a spatula (pancake flipper) cut off each end of roll to make it the length needed to fit around the inside of an angel food cake pan. Place in well-greased angel food cake pan or Bundt cake pan, being sure to arrange the seam where the roll ended against the centre. If you have a two-piece angel food cake pan, it is easiest to roll the loaf onto and around the bottom plate of the pan, and then lower this into the body of the pan. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in volume. Bake about 1 hour at 325 degrees.

Put cut-off ends in greased loaf pans, cover with cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in volume, then bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 325 degrees.

For a shiny crust, brush top before baking with 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk, OR brush top with melted butter when taken from oven.

Let stand one hour before removing from pan. Loosen sides and bottom with knife. Turn onto wire rack to remove, then turn over again onto another wire rack to cool right-side up.

Once completely cool, turn upside-down on a cake plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

The recipe found here (with pictures and another version), because I did not feel like translating my own, but it is basically the same.

Instead of walnut filling you can also make potica with hazelnuts or poppy seeds or even a chocolate one with coconut filling.

My favourite and also very common is potica with tarragon filling:

1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rum
2 handfuls of finely chopped tarragon (or to taste)
3 egg whites

Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar and rum. fold in beaten egg whites and chopped tarragon.

The dough and the rest of the procedure are the same as above.

pictures_cuisine_1_2007_potica_150906

Photo found here: five kinds of potica, from top left: walnuts, poppy seeds, hazelnuts, tarragon, raisins.

Making potica requires quite a lot of work but the result is worth it. Good luck if you decide to give it a try and enjoy! 

What dessert is traditional for Christmas where you live?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Songs of the Season


AltSongsSeasonLG

Songs of the Season
Event production by Random Magic Tour
Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
December 10 – 25, 2012

Join us for a virtual round of carolling, with Songs of the Season, a fun and quirky music hop. Discover new and wonderful songs each day of the hop, handpicked by great bloggers and vloggers - plus lots of other cool things to browse.

Here's my selection for your enjoyment:

Title: White Christmas
Artist: Il Divo
Available at: Amazon | iTunes

Commentary: White Christmas is a classic and one of my favourite songs this time of year. The Il Divo rendition is heavenly, these guys truly have angelic voices.

You might also like:

virtual-advent-tour-05

December 1 – 24: bloggers sharing anything and everything to do with Advent and Christmas. My stop is tomorrow, on December 12. Schedule.

What is/are your favourite song(s) of the season? Please, feel free to share in the comments!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Book Nook #30



Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Show us something pretty!

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Commentary: The arched ceiling is gorgeous, and love the big fireplace. The room is bright and airy, but still cozy. Plus, there are a lot of choices where to sit down with a book. Now imagine snow outside and it is a prefect place to spend a winter day in, reading.

Details: Location and artist unknown, not given in the original post.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) by Maggie Stiefvater


SUMMARY
(from Goodreads): When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be kill in one final, spectacular hunt.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

MY OPINION:

Forever is a great ending to the trilogy. I liked how Cole takes charge of the matters. Isabel is a bit silly sometimes, but she delivers majorly when it counts.

Sam and Grace, well, they are Sam and Grace, what else it there to say? I love their relationship, their loyalty, how they support each other and always find strength in the other person.

The story is suspenseful from front to cover, keeping the reader in the edge about the wolves' fate. Forever is somewhat open ended, yet promising a good future, which I found prefect. It  not a fairy-tale HEA, and I was sorry for the casualties, but I think the end it is fitting,

RECOMMENDATION: Maggie Stiefvater has become one of my favourite authors, although I don't read a lot of YA. The Wolves of Mercy Falls is a beautiful YA paranormal romance trilogy, perfectly concluded with Forever.

4 stars

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