Book Club, Buddy Reads, and Vegan Chocolate Mousse– OH, MY!

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This weekend has been a blast. We had some good friends over to the house for the first time, which was very exciting. I hosted this month’s book club get-together, and my boyfriend and Cupcakes and Machetes‘ husband went out to one of the nearby breweries so we ladies could have the whole place to ourselves. Which basically involved a lot of snacking, inappropriate conversation, a tour of the house (the reading nook and giant bean bag were both a hit!) and more snacking. Most of the girls in our book club are strictly vegan, so I made a variety of vegan dishes for everyone to nom on and everything turned out great. The chocolate mousse was definitely a success, so I’ll share the recipe at the bottom of this post in case any of you are interested. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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C&M and her hubby brought us an amazing bundle of goodies, which was so sweet and thoughtful. Aaaaand she and I decided to do a buddy read for Kevin Hearne’s A Plague of Giants in August, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

3 Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Mousse Recipe:

This recipe is SO EASY. You just need 3 ingredients:

  • 2 small boxes of Jello brand instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Chocolate almond milk
  • “So Delicious Dairy Free” coconut whipped topping

In a large mixing bowl, whisk your pudding mix and chocolate almond milk together, adding enough almond milk so that it gets to a cake batter consistency. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut whipped topping so that it is fully blended but not over-whipped. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

I served ours with graham crackers for dipping and it was seriously addicting. I think it would be great for dipping strawberries or sliced banana into, too, though. The great thing about this mousse, is how versatile the recipe can be. If you want to use vanilla or plain almond milk instead of chocolate, the pistachio, banana cream, vanilla, and lemon flavors of Jello instant pudding are also vegan-friendly, so you could make a mousse in any of those flavors just as easily. The mousse is also great for filling or topping cupcakes, or even just eating plain or parfait-style, so you can really do a lot of different things with it.

And, if you are not interested in making it vegan, just use regular milk and a tub of regular whipped topping instead, and you can use whatever flavor of instant pudding mix you want, so the possibilities are unlimited. Go crazy, this stuff is so easy and delicious.

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June Update Time!

Wow, it’s still hard to believe we’re already SIX MONTHS into the year. Luckily, 2018 has been a great ride so far, so I really can’t complain. (Although, to be fair, there is some occasional whining before/after work.) ๐Ÿ˜›

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My spirit animal

The biggest change for me so far in 2018 has been moving in with my boyfriend to our very first house. It was a big, scary leap, but it’s been great. We make a good team and he always inspires me to push myself toward bigger and better things, so I’ve got some fun projects/ideas I plan to really get going on in the days to come. Next month my little blog will be turning 2 years old, and I’m planning some fun stuff as this Ignited Moth begins her terrible twos. Mwahaha!

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I’m having some friends over this upcoming weekend (my first non-family visitors since I moved in) for my book club’s June meeting. I can’t wait for them to come see the new house and hang out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aaaand, speaking of books . . .

Here are the books I’ve bought so far in June:

The City of Lost Fortunes

Currently reading this one for book club. I’m enjoying it so far, I just wish I had more time to really dig into it. I was struggling to stay away the other night while reading this and wound up succumbing to sleep, thus letting my kindle slip from my grasp and bash me in the face. Not the nicest way to wake up. Profanities ensued.

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A Plague of Giants

I cannot wait to get to read this one! I’ve been enjoying The Iron Druid Chronicles, so I can’t wait to read Kevin Hearne’s first big epic fantasy. He’s been great in the urban fantasy department, but I am looking forward to seeing how he really turns his brain loose for this one.

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Godblind

Like the book above, this was a recent buy due to a fantastic deal pointed out to me by Cupcakes and Machetes. Not only does she make killer book suggestions, but she also points out great deals when she finds them. She’s like a fairy godmother of all things literature, waving her magic wand around and making good books appear on your TBR list. ๐Ÿ˜› I’d heard good things about this one, and with such a great deal how could I possibly pass it up?

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In other news, I bought some fantastic watercolor markers just recently. I’ve gotten to tinker around with them a little bit, but I’m really looking forward to going wild and getting the hang of them soon. With some encouragement from the always-awesomeย Imperial Rebel Ork, I’ve decided to post more of my scribbles, doodles, and artsy stuff on the blog. Which, of course, made me want to get some new tools of the trade to make it happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I feel like there are a thousand other things I could babble on about right now, but I’ll keep this brief. Just know: all is well, I’m feeling inspired, and there is plenty of fun new stuff coming to the blog in about a month. In the meantime, it’s business as per usual (AKA: random, unfiltered chaos.) ๐Ÿ˜€

I hope everyone had a great weekend! โค What’s been going on in your little corner of the world lately? Feel free to let me know what recent excitement you’ve had going on or what neat stuff you’ve been working on lately.

 

Upcoming June Book Club Read: The City of Lost Fortunes

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Last month I read a really good review from none other than the fantastic Kim over at From Hook or By Book, and I just knew I wanted to read the book. Her excitement about The City of Lost Fortunes made me excited to read it as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I promptly added it to my towering, ever-growing mountain of TBR books, and I nominated it for my book club’s June meeting which I will be hosting. Votes were initially split between The City of Lost Fortunes and Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but eventually The City of Lost Fortunes won the vote.

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

The fate of New Orleans rests in the hands of a wayward grifter in this novel of gods, games, and monsters.

The postโ€“Katrina New Orleans of The City of Lost Fortunes is a place haunted by its history and by the hurricaneโ€™s destruction, a place that is hoping to survive the rebuilding of its present long enough to ensure that it has a future. Street magician Jude Dubuisson is likewise burdened by his past and by the consequences of the storm, because he has a secret: the magical ability to find lost things, a gift passed down to him by the father he has never knownโ€”a father who just happens to be more than human.

Jude has been lying low since the storm, which caused so many things to be lost that it played havoc with his magic, and he is hiding from his own power, his divine former employer, and a debt owed to the Fortune god of New Orleans. But his six-year retirement ends abruptly when the Fortune god is murdered and Jude is drawn back into the world he tried so desperately to leave behind. A world full of magic, monsters, and miracles. A world where he must find out who is responsible for the Fortune godโ€™s death, uncover the plot that threatens the cityโ€™s soul, and discover what his talent for lost things has always been trying to show him: what it means to be his fatherโ€™s son.

You had me at “gods, games, and monsters”. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m greatly looking forward to reading this book soon. It only came out in April of this year, so it’s still pretty new. Is it one you’ve read yet? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Maybe it will make its way into your TBR list like it did mine. What current books are you most excited to read right now?ย 

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Happy Halloween!

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Let the festivities officially begin because Halloween is upon us! (Although I’ve been trying to squeeze in Halloween hijinks throughout the whole month.) ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s pretty dang cold here in Michigan right now, but that’s okay. I’m soaking up all this fall weather while I can. This past weekend I got to head out of town to spend it with my #1 partner in crime, Cupcakes and Machetes. She was hosting our book club’s October meeting and threw a lovely get-together with delicious fall goodies and an awesome tour of the old cemetery behind her house. I stayed the night and we wound up carving pumpkins and watching the first 2 episodes of the latest season of Stranger Things. (I can’t wait to see the rest of it!) It was a great way to spend the weekend before Halloween, not to mention how gorgeous all the trees were on the drive! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I can’t wait to see all the costumes everyone wears at work today. I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m a program instructor at a day program for adults with special needs and we’re having a big Halloween party with a costume contest, creepy sensory bins, spooky decorations, and room-to-room trick or treating. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ˜€

One of the major reasons I’m in the job field I am is my big brother. He has autism, OCD, and epilepsy. For a long time he wasn’t really into doing holiday-related activities. (In fact, for years my parents couldn’t put up a Christmas tree because in his opinion, that tree simply did not belong in the living room so it was coming down one way or another.) He’s come around though in recent years and even helped decorate the tree last year which was really nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, he’s embraced Halloween now, too, it seems. We got to decorate pumpkins together. I carved mine and he decorated his with paint and face stickers. He did such a great job and it was really cool getting to do that with him.

My pumpkin was supposed to be a pug face. Hopefully it looks sorta kinda like one. ๐Ÿ˜› Anywhoooo, I hope you guys all have a fantastic Halloween! Are you doing anything fun today? What were your favorite Halloween activities you got to do this year?

What Time Is It? UPDATE TIME!

Hey, guys! Just popping in for some quick updates!

As last month came to an end I posted about some of the book options I had proposed for June’s book club meeting I’ll be hosting. Things got nuts after that. lol A tie breaker vote had to be done and it was so close even then that we nearly wound up split right down the middle for a second time! There was joking about bribery with cupcakes and cookies among the book club ladies because they were so adamant that their book choice won. All the chaos eventually settled and we finally had a winner . . . The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu!

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Ooh, and some exciting news . . . I recently won my first ever book giveaway!! ๐Ÿ˜€ And it was even right here on WordPress! If you haven’t ventured on over to The Book-Filled Day yet, I’d say you should rectify that and check it out. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s all books all the time over there so what’s not to love? I entered their giveaway for the Glimmers series and was so pleasantly surprised to discover that I’d actually won it! From what I’ve read about the series it’s a witty and fun series full of magic about a young fairy godmother in training.

glimmers trilogy.png I’m so very excited to have won, and to get to read this series soon, so a massive thank you to The Book-Filled Day and to the author of the series, Emma Savant! โค Seriously, I never win anything, so this was really exciting! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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In other reading news, I just finished the second volume of DC Bombshells, so I’ll be posting a proper review of that soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve got a couple canvas prints from this series on my wall, but I want to hunt down more of them the more I read this series. The ones I have are of Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn, but I’d love to find some of the other ladies as well, especially Batwoman! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Oh, and I started watching the new American Gods TV series based off the Neil Gaiman novel. I’m only two episodes in, but I’m liking it so far. There’s still a lot of questions at this point, but that’s just fine by me. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s weird as hell so far too, and that is also just fine by me.

So, yeah, those were my quick updates. Feel free to share any of your own recent updates if you’d like. I’d love to hear about them! Are you watching any new shows or reading anything new at the moment?

Book Club Options- Waiting on the Votes to Roll In

I recently volunteered to host June’s night-out-on-the-town for the book club I’m in, which means I got to pick the book options! So as I wait for Wednesday night to roll around so I can tally up the votes I figured I would share the options I put out there with you guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

Option #1: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts

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Phew! That is one lengthy title, but it definitely gets a person’s attention, so well done.

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Oceanโ€™s Eleven.

Yup. Sign me up for this one. I’m sold. We’ve got several hardcore nonfiction lovers in our book club so I figured this was a good choice. ๐Ÿ™‚

Option #2: An Ember in the Ashes

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โ€œAll the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.โ€

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this one, so of course I had to include it in the list. (And if it doesn’t win I’m reading it anyway at some point!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Option #3: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

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This is my other nonfiction selection. After listening to Yeonmi Park’s emotional and heartbreaking speech for One Young World I felt really compelled to read this book. Here’s the video of her moving speech if any of you are interested in listening. (Trigger Warning: topics such as intended suicide and rape are brought up in this video, among other tragic and unjust things, so just warning you guys).

 

Option #4: Red Sister

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It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

Here’s another book I’ve been hearing amazing things about. If this book wins it will be my first venture into the works of Mark Lawrence. (Honestly, even if it doesn’t win it probably still will be with all the great reviews I’ve been reading about it.) ๐Ÿ˜›

Option #5: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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A fictional tale involving Jack the Ripper. I enjoy historical fiction so this one seemed interesting.

So, those are my choices I selected for my fellow book club ladies to vote on. I’m very curious to see the winner once all the votes are in. So far it’s kind of all over the place, so I’m hoping the remaining two votes will nail down a concrete winner.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? ๐Ÿ™‚

The Nightingale- No Spoiler Book Review

As Book lovers, many of us are well acquainted with those nights when we know we should get to bed, but we just can’t put down the book we’re reading until we’ve finished it. This was me last night while reading the last quarter of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

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I don’t even know how to do this book justice in a review, but I’m going to try my best just the same. This novel is a great example of what historical fiction as a genre can accomplish. It takes what we know of history but gives us as readers the ability to step into the shoes of the characters who are living through the events that happened before many of us were even born. It shows us parts of day to day life that we might otherwise not consider while reading about the overall big picture presented in our history books.

The Nightingale follows the lives of two very different sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they do what they must to survive in France during WWII. Vianne is the older of the two, a wife whose husband is being held prisoner in a Nazi war camp, but also a mother who wants more than anything to keep her daughter as safe as she can while struggling just to keep them fed. Isabelle is the young and impulsive sister with a rebel’s spirit, a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. In German occupied France, these are dangerous times. Throughout the story the two sisters are forced to make choices time and time again that could be the difference between life and death, not only for themselves, but for those around them.

Several times while reading this I thought back to people I’ve met and cared for who were there in the thick of things during WWII. In previous jobs I’ve had I have taken care of people from different walks of life, born in different countries, but who all had lived during the same war. Soldiers, civilians, holocaust survivors. I’ve seen firsthand the numbers that were forcibly tattooed onto a person’s arm in their youth that they had to carry with them into their old age long after the war was over. I’ve seen how something seemingly as simple as helping someone to undress and take a shower even decades later can trigger a horrible flashback that mentally takes them right back to the horrors of life in a concentration camp. As I read The Nightingale I couldn’t help but be reminded of these people I once knew. I was moved to tears several times as I read this book.

There is a quote from the book that I think is very relevant now, much as it would have been back then. “What good is safety if she has to grow up in a world where people disappear without a trace because they pray to a different God?” Wars like WWII don’t happen overnight, and I think this book illustrates that very point. Hate, ignorance, and intolerance are all ugly things that can only build in momentum if we let them. This happened then, and one can’t help but feel it happening now. It makes another, older quote come to mind: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is a disturbing thing to consider, but we as people have to learn from the mistakes of the past if there is ever to be any hope of us moving forward. As another quote from the book explains, “love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

The Nightingale shines a light on the ugliest parts of humanity as well as the beauty and compassion we are capable of if only we choose to do the right thing and be there for one another. It shows that love comes in many forms, not all of them perfect or easy.ย  This book gets a solid 5/5 stars from me.