It’s My One Year Blogoversery!!!!

Hello Everyone! Today Ex Libris blog turns one year old! Since I can’t exactly take a picture of my blog (or bake it a cake) I figured a picture of me at my first birthday party would suffice…

First Birthday-1

…and if it doesn’t too bad! 🙂

It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for a year already, and yet also hard to believe it’s ONLY been a year. The past year has been without a doubt one of the most difficult I’ve had yet, but this blog is one of the many things that has helped me pull through. I haven’t always posted as often as I would have liked, but it was comforting to know my little home on the Internet was always here waiting for me when I did have time.

Some Stats:

Number of Posts (before this post): 74

Number of Categories: 42

Most Popular Category: Books (big surprise there!)

Number of Site Views: 3,237

Number of Comments: 388

I’m really proud of what I managed to accomplish on this blog in the past year (especially in light of going through my Ph.D. qualification exam), and hope to continue to improve next year (especially in posting book reviews).

Finally, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog and/or comment over the past year. I am consistently amazed by how welcoming, kind, and just generally awesome the blogging community is. I appreciate you all so much!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.0

It’s hard to believe another week has gone by! School is keeping me busy–especially since I am a teaching assistant this quarter. There are 62 students in the class…thank goodness I have a co-TA. In other news, my family is coming to visit me memorial day weekend! I’m so excited!!!!!!

Since a new week has begun, it’s time for another installment of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week I finished:

chaos-making-new-science-james-gleick-paperback-cover-art

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

A work of popular science in the tradition of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, this 20th-anniversary edition of James Gleick’s groundbreaking bestseller Chaos introduces a whole new readership to chaos theory, one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. From Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, to Mitchell Feigenbaum’s calculation of a universal constant, to Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, which created a new geometry of nature, Gleick’s engaging narrative focuses on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science. In Chaos, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible to beginners, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.

I FINALLY finished this! Yay! Even though this book took me a long time to read I am really glad I finished it. For starters I knew almost nothing about chaos theory before I picked this up, and now I feel like I have a (very) high level understanding of it. Also, the images and diagrams in the book really helped illustrate some of the important concepts, which isn’t always the case in popular science textbooks. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking to learn more about choas theory or anyone interested in reading a popular science book. It’s written at a very high level (so you don’t have to have a degree in physics to understand it) and is very engaging. 4/5 stars.

This week I am reading:

Clash of Kings

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

Only a few more chapters left! I’m really really excited to get to the next book since it will be completely new for me (as I’ve managed to not watch any of Games of Thrones season 3 thus far).

This week I am listening to:

Wolf Hall

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

I’m really really enjoying this book. I’ve read many books about Henry VIII’s reign, but I’m still learning new (and interesting) things this time around. Most of the other books I’ve read focus on the wives or on King Henry himself, but I’ve realized throughout this book that I didn’t actually know that much about Thomas Cromwell. I frequently find myself stopping the audiobook to go look up a fact or historical event. I love it a book intrigues me so much that I want to do extra research to understand it better. It’s a pretty long book, so I’m not sure that I’ll finish it this week…but I’ll enjoy the parts I do get to read!

***

What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

Peanut Butter Bars

My two great food loves are Peanut Butter and Avocado (although not necessarily together). Whenever there is an entree at a restaurant that has either of these two ingredients listed, there is a good chance I’ll order it. A few weeks ago I was having a serious craving for some sort of peanut butter desert.  I remembered eating these bars as a kid, but couldn’t remember the last time I’d had one as an adult. A quick internet search showed me that these are still a very popular (and easy to make!) dessert item. After making them (and eating them) I have some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that they are still just as delicious as I remembered them being. The bad news is also that they are just as delicious as I remember them being. My advice is to make them for an event so you don’t end up eating them all yourself!

***

Peanut Butter Bars

Adapted from: All Recipes.com

Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine melted

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup + 4 tablespoons peanut butter

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended.

Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.

Melt the chocolate chips with the remaining 4 tablespoons of peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Spread over the prepared crust.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Notes:

I loved these and will definitely be making them again!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6.0

Last week was busy, busy, busy (as is probably indicated by my lack of posting). However I did manage to listen to all of The Bungalow, which seems like a pretty good accomplishment to me!

One of the low points of the week, which I’ll call The Great iPod Disaster of 2013, occurred Saturday afternoon. I had just transferred another audiobook onto my iPod and then proceeded to eject the iPod from the computer (via iTunes). Everything seemed o.k. until I unplugged it from my computer and realized that both the iPod and iTunes were frozen. What followed was a lot of troubleshooting and a few curse words. To make a long story short, I had to restore the iPod to factory settings which kind of sucked because I lost about 10 audiobooks in the process since these are transferred directly to the iPod from my library’s software and are not saved in my iTunes library. It’s not the end of the world I know, but it was kind of frustrating to lose my little collection after such a long week. Luckily I had just checked out four from the library so I do still have something to listen to.

O.k. rant over…It’s time for another installment of “It’s Monday! What Are you Reading?”

***

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week I finished:

The-bungalow-cover

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiance, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

I really liked this book–it carried me away to another time and place during a week in which I really needed it. It was well written and the plot moved quickly enough to keep me entertained the whole time.

Minor spoilers ahead…you might want to skip the next paragraph if you haven’t read the novel.

I did think the character development could use some work. For instance, Anne’s character just seemed a little too naive to me (it really took her WAY too long to figure some of that stuff out). I also found the character of Gerard to be somewhat unrealistic–I mean is anyone really that passive or that big of a pushover? Additionally, I felt like Jio could have expanded more on some of the subplots as most of these felt very unfinished to me (like what the heck happened to her mother after NYC, or what the deal was with Mary and that Edward guy)

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel. 3.5/5 stars.

This week I am reading:

chaos-making-new-science-james-gleick-paperback-cover-art

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

A work of popular science in the tradition of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, this 20th-anniversary edition of James Gleick’s groundbreaking bestseller Chaos introduces a whole new readership to chaos theory, one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. From Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, to Mitchell Feigenbaum’s calculation of a universal constant, to Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, which created a new geometry of nature, Gleick’s engaging narrative focuses on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science. In Chaos, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible to beginners, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.

Yup. I’m still reading this. As I mentioned above, I was reallllllyyy busy last week and just didn’t have a lot of time to sit and read. I am motivated to finish it though because its due date at the library is coming up soon!

Clash of Kings

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

I finally got this one back on loan from the library (after it was electronically reclaimed last time)!!! I left off on about Chapter 50, so I’m very confident I can finish this before the allotted two weeks are up. I’m excited to finish this one so I can move onto book 3, which will be completely new for me since I have avoided watching season 3 of Game of Thrones (so far).

This week I am listening to:

Wolf Hall

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

I’ve read many books about Henry VIII’s reign, and so far this is one of the most unique and well written that I’ve come across. I only started it yesterday, but I am really enjoying it so far.

***

What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.0

Happy Monday everyone! It’s time for another installment of “It’s Monday! What Are you Reading?”

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week I finished:


The_Book_Thief

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I finally finished The Book Thief and I am so glad I did. As I noted in previous weeks, this book got off to a REALLY slow start for me. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I just didn’t feel the conviction to pick it back up once I’d put it down. Honestly it wasn’t until the last 1/3 of the book that I got REALLY into it. Everyone told me how great they thought this book was and I kept waiting to have my “aha!” moment…it did finally come, but sheesh it took awhile! Minor spoiler ahead…if you haven’t read the book you might want to skip on to the next section…

I think the most poignant moment for me in this book occurred during the first air raid when Death was pondering whether or not the Germans in the fallout shelter were pitiable (especially in comparison to the Jewish prisoners in the concentration camps). This is something I’ve thought of myself before when reading these types of books since not every German citizen during that period was a member of the Nazi party or subscribed to Hitler’s doctrine. Ultimately I agree with Death’s analysis (i.e. Zusak’s words) that while the German citizens huddled in that basement were worthy of pity, the real sorrow should be reserved for the Jewish people imprisoned in the camps.

Overall, this book really moved me. It got off to very slow start, but made up for it with a fantastic (albeit very sad) ending. 4/5 stars.

This week I am reading:

chaos-making-new-science-james-gleick-paperback-cover-art

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

A work of popular science in the tradition of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, this 20th-anniversary edition of James Gleick’s groundbreaking bestseller Chaos introduces a whole new readership to chaos theory, one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. From Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, to Mitchell Feigenbaum’s calculation of a universal constant, to Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, which created a new geometry of nature, Gleick’s engaging narrative focuses on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science. In Chaos, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible to beginners, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.

Yes, I am STILL reading this book. I am really enjoying it…it’s just taking me longer to get this one finished (mostly due to my busy schedule). I have about 100 pages left, so it’s possible I’ll finish it this week.

This week I am listening to:

The-bungalow-cover

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fianc, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

After the heaviness and slow pace of The Book Thief this novel has been a very welcome change. I’ve probably listened to more of it today than I listened to of The Book Thief in like a week. I’m really enjoying it so far, and I am almost positive I will finish it this week. On a side note: isn’t this a beautiful cover?

***

What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Happy Tuesday! Today I am participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Most weeks I have a really hard time thinking of ten things to include in my Top Ten list. That was not the case this week! When I saw this topic I was really excited because I knew it was one I could easily finish. I like the idea of going back in my reading reserve to the time before I was a blogger because I’ve only been a blogger for about a year but I’ve been reading for about the past 20 years. So without further ado and in no particular order..

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger:

1. The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

the_world_is_flat

I read this book soon after it was published while working my first internship for a major corporation. I remember how amazed I was that I was observing the things he described in his book (specifically the phenomenon known as in-shoring) as a 20 year old eating lunch at her desk in Kansas. The information in this book is probably somewhat dated now so it might be hard for a reader in 2013 to comprehend why I loved this book so much, but when it was published in 2005 it was pretty exciting (at least for me).

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

anna-karenina

Say what you will about Anna (as a character) but I still think this book is both epic and beautifully written. I remember feeling a real sense of accomplishment when I finished this one.

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

200px-A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns

I had never heard of Hosseini or The Kite Runner when I picked up this book at the library on a whim. I had no idea what to expect, and this beautiful and sad novel completely blew me away. I have since read The Kite Runner, and while I did absolutely love it it just didn’t have the same effect for me as this one did. There is something almost magical about picking up a book on a whim that is hard to recreate once you have set expectations.

4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

belcanto_large

I absolutely loved this beautiful and unique novel. I had never really read much (or maybe even heard of) about Stockholm Syndrome before I read this novel, but I found Patchett’s exploration of it fascinating.

5. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House Books

I loved these books SO MUCH growing up. Santa Claus brought me these books for Christmas as a little girl, and I credit them with sparking my love of reading. I’ve read all of them more times than I can count, and many of them are now held together with scotch tape. It only takes one look at my Little House collection to see that they have been well loved.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

prideandprejudice

This was the first Jane Austen book I ever read and still probably my favorite. I’ve read this book so many times, and I find something new to love about it every time!

7. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

age of innoence

I loved this book from the first sentence. I think Wharton does a great job of creating very human characters, and exploring the fine line between personal freedom and societal expectations.

8. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

reading-lolita-in-tehran

I thought this was a fantastic book about the power of literature to comfort you and change you. It moved me more than any other book I read that year.

9. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

harry-potter-series

What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said? I loved these books when I first read them, I love them still.

10. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The-Time-Travelers-Wife-by-Audrey-Niffenegger2

I loved this unique story when I first read it, but I have been really surprised by how much it has stuck with me.

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What are the favorite books you read before becoming a blogger?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.0

Happy Monday everyone! Welcome to another edition of “It’s Monday! What are you reading?” Last week was a long, grueling week and I found myself too exhausted to read Chaos after a long day at school. So I picked up a nice, light diversion read instead. While it won’t be one of my favorite reads of the year it did allow me to escape for a few hours…so I’d say it definitely did its job!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week I finished:


Ten-Things-I-Love-About-You

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Annabel Winslow is in a pickle. Having newly arrived in London for her first season and being in possession of a voluptuous figure, is being openly courted the the Earl of Newbury, who is at least 75 and a nasty brute to boot. Annabel does not want to marry him, of course, but feels that she has no choice since her father has recently died and left the whole family, including Annabel’s mother her 7 siblings, almost destitute.

Then, while attending a party in the countryside, Annabel met Sebastian Grey, the Earl of Newbury’s nephew. And suddenly she found herself not only courted by the lecherous uncle, but also the charming young nephew. Should she follow her heart so that she can be with the one she loves, or should she marry the loathsome earl just so she can put food on the table for her family and make sure that her brothers get to stay in school?

Midweek I decided I needed a break from the other (heavier) reads I have been working through. I am enjoying them both, but wanted something lighter to get me through the week. I’ve had this one on my shelf for a while, and it seemed like as good of a time as any to read this one. I’d read and enjoyed the other two books in the Bevelstoke series (The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, and What Happens in London) so I was excited to finally read this one.

My overall reaction? Meh…it was o.k. I enjoyed reading it, and to be fair I read the whole thing in about 48 hours. However, I just don’t feel like this was one of the better books Julia Quinn (JQ) has published (and I think I’ve read nearly every single one). For starters, this book had a lot of dialogue (much of it internal dialogue), but not much else really happened. There weren’t even very many party/social sequences in the book, which is usually a JQ staple (and provides good opportunities to advance the plot).  I mean the most action-packed scene in the book involves the 75 year old uncle throwing a punch at his nephew…who doesn’t fight back. I still love JQ and will keep reading her books, this one just wasn’t my favorite. 2.5/5 stars.

This week I am reading:

chaos-making-new-science-james-gleick-paperback-cover-art

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

A work of popular science in the tradition of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, this 20th-anniversary edition of James Gleick’s groundbreaking bestseller Chaos introduces a whole new readership to chaos theory, one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. From Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, to Mitchell Feigenbaum’s calculation of a universal constant, to Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, which created a new geometry of nature, Gleick’s engaging narrative focuses on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science. In Chaos, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible to beginners, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.

I am still really enjoying this book. I’ve found it’s started to make me think differently about some of my own research (not that I am studying anything close to chaos theory) and science in general. It’s been a really eye-opening read. I’m looking forward to finishing it!

This week I am listening to:

The_Book_Thief

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I’ll admit–this is a bit of a slower read for me than I thought it would be. When I’m listening to it, I really enjoy it. But when I put it down, I’m not always that excited to start it back up again. I’m not sure why that is. Admittedly, I do think the first bit of the book is probably just a little slow and now that Liesel is a little older I am enjoying it much more. Sometimes I even find myself laughing aloud at some of the more light-hearted moments (mostly moments between her foster mother and father). I’m pretty sure I’ll finish it this week.

***

What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

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