July 6, 2015

#bookwormproblems - The Curse of Trilogies

Phew! I barely remembered to write this post. We were out of town enjoying cooler weather for the 4th. So I guess perhaps my first problem is actually a #bookbloggerproblem - remembering to participate in link-ups and to schedule my own link-ups! Ha!

My second #bookwormproblem is that I enjoyed The Winner's Curse so much a couple of weeks ago that I made the mistake of starting The Winner's Crime yesterday. It's so good! And book 3 (The Winner's Kiss), doesn't come out till next March. ARGH. Why do I even start trilogies when they're not all out yet?? The suspense makes me crazy, and then I forget details, but I never want to reread the first two if I just read them a few months ago... 

What #bookwormproblem is bugging YOU this month? Share in the comments, or link-up your own post below!

July 2, 2015

Book Review: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

To the modern American (including me!), the United States seems a foregone conclusion of the Revolutionary War. I mean, hello, "We the people of the United States of America..." 

But in The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, historian Joseph J. Ellis (American Sphinx, First Family) argues that nationhood was not a goal of the Revolutionary War, and that at the end of the war, the only connection among the colonies was their resolve to remain free of empire. Comparable to today's European Union, the 13 colonies were a collaborative collection of independent entities.

The politics of the nascent nation changed rapidly between 1783 and 1789, due largely to a quartet of men: George Washington, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Washington and Hamilton both witnessed firsthand the ineffectiveness of the Continental Congress, instilling in them a desire for a strong, central leadership. Jay spent years in Europe setting American foreign policy, which convinced him that the United States needed to appear united internationally. Madison's political genius made him certain that a confederation would never succeed.

These men were perfectly positioned politically to be able drastically to shift American policy away from boundless independence and back toward centralized authority. By establishing the Constitution and setting the framework of the federal government, in essence they staged a bloodless revolution.

Absorbing in its details, and convincing in its arguments, The Quartet is sure to appeal to history nerds and American politicos. As another election season approaches, a look back at the creation of the government, and the reasons why these founding fathers did what they did, is sure to be engrossing reading for anyone.

I always like Ellis's books, he and David McCullough are such perfect thought-provoking-but-not-too-challenging history authors. And I was truly fascinated to take a look at the Revolutionary history I know so well through this different lens. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in American history, especially with the 4th of July in mind - it could be perfect reading this holiday weekend.

Do YOU read much history? 

Most of this review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness. Because my editors are awesome and let me say things like "history nerds" in my reviews. And the image is an affiliate link, thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm.

P.S. Don't forget that the #bookwormproblems link-up is fast approaching!

June 30, 2015

What I'm Into (June 2015): With a Little Gift for You!


I was going to say I've barely read anything this month. Then I just went and counted on Goodreads, and I've read 12 books, haha! I think what it is, is that I read several books I didn't really love (Slice Harvester, How To Be a Grown-Up, The Life Intended, The Last Letter From Your Lover) so they didn't really stick in my brain. 
The books I DO remember reading? Fool's Fate (the final AMAZING installment in the Tawny Man trilogy), The Winner's Curse, Death in the Clouds, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (see my full review of that one here).


Now here I can truthfully say I've barely watched anything. That's partly because I was obsessed with Fool's Fate (which is 32 hours on audio, and I finished it in less than a week). So any time that normally would be spent with the tv on in the background was spent with my audiobook playing. And it's partly because it's summer, and there aren't a lot of new shows, and we're pretty much caught up on all of our usual Netflix/Amazon Prime choices. We did watch a handful of episodes of How I Met Your Mother season 1, and I got the "joy" of watching Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Never Beast with Eleanor... but otherwise, pretty much nothing.


I have, however, continued to obsessively research my family tree. My Great-Great Grandpa Charles left his family when my Great-Grandma Helen was 7 or 8, and was never heard from again. (So he left their Ohio home around 1910/11.) I found his WWI draft card though, which was dated 1918, and puts him in Pennsylvania. I have decided that MISSION: FIND GG-GPA CHARLES is my challenge for this summer. My aunt told me that years ago my great-grandpa (the one married to Helen), did some research and found out Charles may have started another family, but Great-Grandpa never told Helen because it would have made her so sad.
But Helen passed away in 2000, so I can safely dig around a little now. I feel so bad for my Great-Great Grandma Clara. When she died, she had a double headstone put up with her info, and then next to it her husband's birthdate, and "Death Unknown". Ugh. I want closure on Clara's behalf!


My newest obsession is balsamic roasted strawberries. They are incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. Sprouts had strawberries on sale for .98 a lb, and I went twice last week and bought 6 lb each time! Here's the super simple recipe: Take about 3lb of strawberries, wash 'em, chop the green tops off them, and throw them in a baking dish. I use a 9x9... it's fine if they're piled up at first, because they cook down. Turn your oven on to 375, drizzle your strawberries with balsamic vinegar, and then sprinkle with a fair amount of sugar. If you do 3/4 of a cup they come out sweet, but still tangy. Or you can go all the way up to 1 cup if you want them super sweet. 
Roast the sugared strawberries at 375 for about 40 minutes, stirring a couple of times, till the strawberries are all soft and shapeless, and you have a pan full of syrup. Let it cool off, pour the strawberries & syrup into an airtight container, and they'll keep about a week in the fridge. We've been eating them on plain yogurt, on shortcakes, on pancakes, smeared on toast, and maybe (ahem), by the spoonful. SO GOOD.


Monsoon season started early! On Thursday the temp suddenly dropped from 105 to 85, and we got our first glorious raindrops. It rained really hard for about 10 minutes, and then sprinkled a few minutes more, hurrah! And we've gotten rain 3 more times since then... never more than 20 minutes, but still, I'll take it! It's been so nice to be able to let the girls play out back a little in the daytime, and to smell that wonderful desert rain smell.


I was having a bad day on Monday (due to lots of little things just piling up on me), and I made myself a phone wallpaper that said, "BEST DAY EVER", so that every time I looked at my phone it cheered me up. Also I ate like 14 Oreos, but that's another story. Anyway, making that wallpaper was so easy, and then my phone was cute, and I was like, "Um, why have I never done this before?" 
So I made another one, with a Louisa May Alcott quote about books. I'm putting the photo at the bottom of this post - in the hopes that some of you might want to save the pic and use it too. Guaranteed to make your phone about 42% more bookish and happy, ha! It's specifically designed for my iPhone 5, but I left white space around the edges so hopefully it's adaptable to other phone shapes too.

What are YOU into?

Planning to link up with Leigh Kramer's What I'm Into link-up tomorrow!

She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain. --Louisa May Alcott quote, in an image designed to work as iPhone wallpaper.