Pros & Cons / Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Hi!

Pros and Cons

Today, I’m here to announce yet another review feature! In an effort to shorten some of my reviews to just the main points {which is quite a task for me as I could ramble on forever :)}, I created “Pros & Cons,” which are simply, the pros and cons of the book. In the future, I will alternate between my review styles, so they won’t all be the same; I have quite a few reviews to write up! Anyhoo, for the first Pros & Cons, I have reviewed the second book in the Also Known As series, Going Rogue.

Pros and Cons Going RogueLet’s discuss, friends! Have you read any of Robin Benway’s books? I’ve read them all, and it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favorite.

Have a lovely night!

Bella

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loving >> week 117

Hi!

The Love ListI’ve started my last school vacation before summer, and I couldn’t be happier! I love kicking off a break right. Anyhoo, I’m loving…

Twenty Feet From Stardom1 ♥ 20 Feet From Stardom I watched this amazing documentary a few weeks ago with my family, and I am still surprised and impressed with it! I truly wasn’t expecting to enjoy the film as much as I did. The movie provided a fascinating and unique look at the lives of backup singers; it also included interviews with famous performers, such as Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder. Having little knowledge on the topic before, I loved learning a bit more about the people who add so much to popular music.

Wheat Thins Popped

2 ♥ Wheat Thins Popped I have been snacking on these all week long! There’s not much to say other than that they are one of my new food obsessions :) I love packing a few for lunch or for a mid-rehearsal snack break.

OPI Brazil Collection3 ♥ Brazil Collection by OPI While I am still waiting for temperatures to warm up beyond 60, I also know that it will be summer before I know it. The current collections for sale in stores have been no help either, as everything seems to be extremely summer-y! Case in point? OPI’s “Brazil” collection, made up of gorgeous peaches and pinks, a fun yellow, and a bold turquoise, to name just a few. My mom picked a few polishes at the store to use as goodies for my family’s annual egg hunt and, because I didn’t end up with one today, I feel a trip back to Ulta is in order.

Good Books{there’s no more accurate statement! from HERE}

4Library Hauls I honestly think there is no better feeling than leaving the library with lots of new books to be read! With my school vacation this week and all, I stocked up on plenty of new reads, and I hope to get to a lot of them this week! Have you read any of the following? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts! I snagged…

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
  • Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  • Greetings from the Graveyard by Kate and Sarah Klise

Easter Bunny

5 ♥ Easter Finally, I am looking forward to celebrating Easter on Sunday! We’re keeping it low-key, which is how I like it best :) Have a most fabulous weekend! {That cute clip art, by the way is from The Jones Design Company HERE.}

Bella

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Basil Risotto with Grilled Chicken

Hello!

Risotto with Grilled ChickenA trip to a grocery store is made for me when free samples are involved. I love trying out new foods, no matter how small the sample size may be, and sometimes, I find a new meal, snack, or recipe I love in the process! :) Such was the case when I tried this risotto sample; as soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted to make it at home as well. Risotto, by the name alone, first made me nervous, as I thought it would be complicated {cooking, compared to baking, is not something I do as often anyways}. Thankfully, my initial opinions were totally off the mark! This recipe is simple and quick to complete – I imagine it would make a perfect weeknight dinner. This risotto can also be easily adapted to fit your preferences. A few swaps of ingredients could be an interesting experience to try out! The bottom line? There are very few reasons for you not to try this, so what are you waiting for?

Risotto with Grilled Chicken Loosely adapted from Venda Ravioli

ingredients

  • 2 pound chicken cutlet, grilled at 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup white wine {obviously, have an adult buy this if you are a teen like me! The alcohol will then evaporate as it cooks.}
  • 2 cups risotto
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 pint pesto
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper

to make

  1. Chop your chicken into bite-size pieces.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until translucent.
  4. Add the wine, and reduce heat. Add in the dry risotto, and mix. Cook the rice until only the edges are translucent.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the stock over low heat.
  6. Mix in the pine nuts to the rice mixture, and increase heat.
  7. Begin adding the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time. Only add in another ladle once most of the stock from the previous scoop has been absorbed. Continue this process for twenty minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  8. Stir in the chicken, pesto, cheese, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Bella

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The Princess in the Opal Mask: A Book Review

Hello!

Quick note before the actual review: While I am super excited to write up some other types of reviews {like my first “Making the Grade” HERE}, I thought it would be best to space them out with some regular ones too! Hence, today’s post :)

The Princess in the Opal MaskTitle: The Princess in the Opal Mask

Author: Jenny Lundquist

Published: October 22nd, 2013 by Running Press Kids

Pages: 352

Genre: Could be considered Young Adult and Middle Grade / Fantasy

Source: Sister {a huge thank you to her!} / Paperback

Series: The Opal Mask: Book Two comes out in October!

Summary: Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria’s royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face—including Wilha herself. 

When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks. {from Goodreads}

My Thoughts: I used to be a huge fantasy/fairy tale reader, but as I went into the YA genre, and read more and more of it, I’ve noticed that my fantasy reading has most definitely declined. Granted, I have quite a few fairy tale themed novels that my sister has recommend waiting in my always large to-be-read pile, but nevertheless, fantasy is one of my more overlooked genres. And, so, I decided to try out Jenny Lundquist’s The Princess in the Opal Mask {It even made my fall TBR list!}. While the gorgeous cover is quite memorable, I can’t say the same about the story. It was enjoyable, yes, but after finishing it, I couldn’t help but want something more.

Elara is an orphan, stuck with a riches-obsessed “foster” family. More a servant than a daughter, she wants nothing more than to learn of her own background. In the palace, Princess Wilha is having difficulties of her own. Always asked to wear a mask in public, she too wants to know more about her past and rid of the rumors that her face is both a curse and a blessing. The basic premise of this story caught my attention right away; I really wanted to know the connection between the two girls and why in the world Wilha needs to wear a mask all the time! However, the actual plot lacked a lot of development, especially for the first book in a series. I’m perfectly fine with cliffhangers {book anticipation is the best, yes?!}, but loose ends with no seemingly continuation just doesn’t cut it for me.

The characters were another element I had mixed feelings about. I loved Elara’s attitude - she took everyone’s false {or only partially true} stories with a grain of salt until she could figure it out on her own. She was also a refreshing character to read about, as she was independent and fierce. {yay! :)} Wilha also had some positive qualities to her. She, out of the two, showed a lot of growth in finding herself, and I hope we see more of that in Book Two. However, with both girls, I never felt the emotional tug that usually makes me love a book. At the end of the story, I was almost at the point that I didn’t truly care what happened to either of them. It sounds bad, I know, but it’s true.

While the plot seemed a bit rushed and all over the place, it’s no match to some of these characters’ ranging personalities. Specifically, I was frustrated that the prince acted like two entirely different people depending on the situation. This can be done well and even add to the character’s development, but done poorly, it disrupts the consistency of the story.

Overall, I think my major complaint with this story is that it just wasn’t memorable. The plot needed some work, and although the main characters were solid, many of the supporting characters had nothing going for them. I plan to read Book Two {or at least skim it} because I want to see how Elara and Wilha end up, and hopefully, I will find something to love, and not just like.

Pros: The two main characters had some great chapters together, and I really enjoyed seeing Wilha’s growth as a person and reading about Elara’s quick-witted personality.

Cons: The supporting characters that were crucial to the storyline either needed more fleshing out or not disappear halfway throughout the story. I also wished the plot had more development, so readers weren’t left with some many loose ends.

Heads Up: Nothing big.

Overall: I give it 3-ish stars {***}, and I recommend it for ages 12 and up.

Have a wonderful night!
Bella

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loving >> week 116

Hi!

The Love ListWith a return to blogging after my short hiatus, I knew some tweaking to my Love Lists was necessary. Nothing huge, but the format is a bit different. Change can be good, no?

Anyhoo, I’m loving…

Oh Joy for Nod1 ♥ Oh Joy’s The Land of Nod Collection {ETA: Guys, I totally forgot the link when I originally posted this; perks of blogging right before bed!} I love Joy’s entire aesthetic, that is evident in her blog, her book, even her Target collection! When she partnered with The Land of Nod, the witty and wonderful children’s design company, I was so very excited. Although her line is clearly meant for kids, I see no shame in buying a few of the more classic and timeless pieces for myself :)

Color Collective2 ♥ Color Collective This color-themed blog is a wonderful resource! It has long been on the internet {since 2010 actually}, but I came a bit late to the game. Lauren uses various works of art, from photographs to paintings, to pull different color palettes. I’ve surprisingly fallen in love with quite a few of the combinations, and I’ve used lots of them as inspiration for my own projects. {My study guides have never looked better :)}

Arabian Nights by Deen Van Meer3 ♥ Aladdin: The Musical I visited NYC last week, and I don’t think you can visit the city without seeing a Broadway musical {unless, of course, you’re not a play person, then it’s perfectly okay to skip out on that}. This time, I saw the absolutely amazing Aladdin, which first opened in late March. As a tech girl at heart, I adored seeing the stunning and diverse technical elements used, but the acting and musical numbers were just as good. It’s one production I wouldn’t mind seeing again!

Boden Summer 20144 ♥ The Johnnie B Summer Line Take any look through my past Love Lists, and you’ll see that Boden makes a frequent appearance. And so, how could I not mention the new summer line?! Today was the first day in the high 60′s where I live, so I know summer is on its way. Some of my favorite pieces from the line are the Eyelet Top {that pink neon called my name the moment I saw it!}, the Lois Skirt {the picnic print made me smile}, and the Turn-Up Shorts in Parrot Blue {I love the bright colors!}. Do take a peek.

The Fosters

5 ♥ The Fosters My sister and I just watched the complete second half of The Fosters these past two weeks, and I am OBSESSED. ABC Family shows are my guilty pleasures! The drama is crazy, but it is just so entertaining. I’m not happy that I have to wait until June for the second season to premiere, but I can always re-watch a few if needed!

Have a terrific night!

Bella

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