Here is my reading list for 2016!

This year I decided to do reports on each of the books I read, for this I used index cards and my “report” could be no more than one whole card [front and back]. I will also be doing my list by month; I will list all of the books I read each month and my opinion of them will follow. I started my year out with a goal of 25 books, and ended with a total of 38 books read. This list shows 43 books, but it includes the 5 books that I could not finish due to them being horrible from the start, or did not finish due to time or technical issues. I hope this list gives you some great book ideas.


Leave a comment on this post if you wish and let me know if you read any of the books on here, and what you thought of them.



  1. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster – A Book with a female heroine – 3/5
    1. This book started out very slow.
    2. Few pages (less than 200), but not a quick read. Even though I read it in 2 days, it seemed like it took forever.
    3. Confusing at times to understand what was going on; a lot of back and forth.
    4. Turned out to be a lot better than I expected; wonderful ending.
    5. Lucy was ahead of her time in knowing what she wanted and how women should be.
  2. The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court by Michelle Moran – A book based on a true story – 5/5
    1. From the very first I could not get enough of this book; I wanted to stay up all night and read it, but I had to go to work the next day.
    2. Wonderful telling of history.
    3. You must read all the way to the end where it tells the history of the characters.
  3. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – A book by an author you love but haven’t read yet (take 1) – 1/5
    1. Definitely NOT Harry Potter!!!
    2. Found my new favorite word while reading this book. It describes my job and life perfectly.
    3. I had to forget who the author of this book was at times, just so I could get through some of it.
    4. Could NOT finish this book!
    5. The reason I could not finish it was because it was too boring for me. I also felt it was too sporadic with the plotline. I got confused with all of the characters and could not keep up with the sporadic writing of the book.
    6. Not Jo’s best work. Maybe next time.
    7. Did not even get through 100 (75) pages before I had to stop. I agree with one of the reviews I read; it felt like she was trying to stray so far from Harry Potter that she pretty much fell off a cliff.
  4. Pegasus by Danielle Steel – A book by an author you love, but haven’t read yet (take 2) – 5/5
    1. I had to give up on the first book that chose for this “category” simply because it wasn’t interesting.
    2. I chose this book by Danielle Steel, because the time period was WW2; which is one of my favorite subjects.
    3. I absolutely LOVED this book!!
    4. Adding this to “My Favorite Danielle Steel Books” list.
  5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – A book that is becoming a movie this year (2016) – 5/5
    1. Being a highly talked about book, when I picked this I was skeptical and frankly a little scared to read it.
    2. Has a lot of back and forth between characters, but it is easy to understand.
    3. The problem with this book is that you will want to stay up all night reading it, but in the end you know you have to work the next day.
    4. Be warned, this book will suck you in!
    5. Heart pounding, exhilarating thriller.
    6. One of the best books I have read in a long time.
    7. I sometimes shy away from books who have a lot of hype, because they usually don’t live up to it (i.e. The Casual Vacancy); but this book was well worth it.
  6. Legacy by Danielle Steel – A book with a blue cover – 5/5
    1. This was actually a re-read, but I picked it because the book I really wanted [with a blue cover] was unavailable.
    2. This book makes me want to spend a long weekend doing family history, even if I just sit in my PJs searching
    3. Reading this book inspired me to write a book about my own family history.
    4. This will always be one of my favorite Danielle Steel books.


  1. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – 5/5
    1. From the first paragraph I was hooked.
    2. Definitely a culture I am unfamiliar with.
    3. Malala was a brave girl even before she was shot; she was brave because she went against her culture at times.
    4. Not a long book, but it moves slow. There is a lot of history throughout.
    5. All this young girl wanted was an education for herself, and for girls just like her.
  2. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – A book with a color in the title – 4/5
    1. I LOVE the Starz miniseries, and wanted to see how the book compared.
    2. Written in first person, and it takes a minute to catch up with the dialogue.
    3. Rambles a lot, hard to keep up with what goes on from chapter to chapter.
    4. This book is worth reading till the end. It is full of heart racing action and thrills.
    5. Read the author’s note at the end, it is full of more insight into the characters.
  3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – A Book you LOVED…Read it Again! – 5/5
    1. I loved this book the first time I read it, so I knew what I wanted to read when I pulled this slip out of the bucket. The first time I read this, I read it in 2 days.
    2. I would describe this as, “A trip around the world in 300 pages.”
    3. One of the best books I have ever read…again.
    5. Second time in two years I have read this; it may become a pattern.
  4. Divergent by Veronica Roth – A trilogy – 5/5
    1. I chose to read this series [again] because I did not want to start a trilogy that I have never read and spend a lot of time on it, if I had chosen this slip during the summer, I would have picked a different series because I would have had more time to read it and really get into it.
    2. Now that I have seen the movie, I wanted to see how this compared.
    3. Still as good as the first time I read it.
    4. Let me rephrase, even better than the first time I read it.
    5. The book is definitely, always better than the movie.


  1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth – A Trilogy – 5/5
    1. Another example of the book being WAY better than the movie. They missed a whole lot of action and relationships in the movie.
    2. I really wish that they would have put a lot more details from the book into the movie.
    3. This book really shows what would happen if the head of a government is so corrupt that the citizens cannot take it anymore; and what those citizens will do if they are able to gain control.
  2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth – A trilogy – 5/5
    1. Part 1 of the Allegiant movie veered so far from the book it was almost like it did not even come from the same series. Now we’ll have to see how the second movie compares to the rest of the book; if you have read the book you will know what I mean.
  3. The Space Between: An Outlander Novella by Diana Gabaldon – Wild Card (Read Whatever) – 5/5
    1. This was QUITE an interesting read, I loved the story in between books 7 & 8.
    2. Having some back story on characters other than Jamie, Claire, Frank, Black Jack, etc.… is enlightening.
  4. A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows: An Outlander Novella by Diana Gabaldon – Wild Card (Read Whatever) – 5/5
    1. This was a short (58 pages), but sweet novella about Roger Mac’s parents.
    2. I am glad I chose to take on the extra books in the Outlander series, it gives a wonderful and different point of view of the minor characters in the series.
  5. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp – 2/5
    1. Could not finish this book.
    2. Set in my home state of Oklahoma.
    3. Drags slower than a snail in peanut butter.
    4. The whole “written from first person” this is slightly annoying.
    5. The main character (a teen) is not really a great role model for teens; all he does is drink and drive while under the influence.
    6. I read less than 50 pages and wanted to slam my head against the wall it was so boring.
  6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy –
    1. Due to wanting to expand my reading list I did not finish this book, but I will eventually finish it. I really want to see how the relationship between Anna and her husband, and Anna and her lover turn out. If I could just find, and read, all of the chapters that that they are in I would have finished this a long time ago.


  1. Stiff by Mary Roach – A Non-fiction Book – 5/5
    1. If you have ever wanted to know what happens to bodies after death, or what can be done to your body after death; this is the book for you.
    2. As a self-proclaimed Biology nerd, I was very intrigued by this book. The stories are fascinating – especially those that give an insight into how cadavers were treated in the past.
    3. After reading this, donating my body to science is seriously becoming an option.
    4. Some very disturbing parts in this book. Fascinating, yet disturbing.
    5. If you did not already know what happens to a body after it dies; what options you have for after you die; or what ways a dead body, and its parts, have been used, you will after reading this.
    6. It took me almost a whole month to read this, but I thought it would be a little disturbing for other people to see me reading a book on dead bodies in public.


  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – 5/5
    1. I really, really, really wanted to read this book, so I strayed away from my habit of “picking” a book and read this.
    2. This book will give you a cavalcade of emotions – happy to sad, and back again.
    3. The reviews I read are wrong; this is one of the best books I have ever read.
    5. By the end of this book you will need a whole box of tissues.
    6. Jojo Moyes is a wonderful writer.
    7. MOVIE REVIEW: I give the movie a 5/5 as well. It really did the book justice, even with the changes.
  2. The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon – A Book Under 150 Pages (88 pages) – 4/5
    1. I love all of Diana’s “mini-books” from the Outlander series, they give great insight into the minor characters of the series, plus they are fun to read.
    2. Lord John is a very interesting character, so getting to know him pre-Jamie makes him feel like a major character.
    3. Not one of my favorite Outlander novellas.
  3. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin – A book from the library (I use the OverDrive app) – 5/5
    1. Slow start, but once you get into it it becomes emotional; good and bad.
    2. I love the character of Eilis! She is very much her own woman in a time and place where women were expected to only stay home, have babies, and keep house.
    3. MOVIE REVIEW: Wonderful! I like how they added a little extra “love” to the end; that differed from the book.


  1. The Milliner’s Secret by Natalie Meg Evans – 5/5
    1. I read this while on vacation, this summer, and I loved it so much that I almost did not want to go out and do anything.
    2. The perfect read for a rainy day.
    3. A wonderful read it you love history. This book is set in my favorite time period; Europe in WWII.
    4. I do not normally buy ebooks, I prefer to own the actual thing, but this book was totally worth it.
  2. Wanderlust by Danielle Steel – 5/5
    1. Another vacation read, which was fitting because it is about a woman who travels the world to find herself.
    2. A reread, and if you know me, you know I love rereading Danielle Steel books.
  3. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King – 5/5
    1. I read this a couple of years ago, and when it came time to needing a 3rd vacation read, this was perfect.
    2. I love the relationship between Holmes and Russell; you’re never sure if it is a “father-daughter”; a “lover”; or a “friend-foe” relationship.
    3. Russell is equal to Watson in keeping Holmes in line.


  1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – 4/5
    1. Definitely worth the read.
    2. Great plot twists.
    3. Will keep you guessing until the end.
    4. A little slow at first, but as it picks up it turns out to be a really good semi-thriller.
    5. I wish I could have known the narrators name; I suppose the narrator is the reader.
  2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs – A book with pictures – 5/5
    1. This book excited me just from reading the reviews!
    2. You definitely need an imagination when you read this book.
    3. This book really makes you wonder if there are people out there like this out there in the world. The author makes them seem so real.
    4. The pictures make all of the characters come to life.
    5. I ended up reading this in two days because it was so addicting and well written.
  3. Heat Rises – Richard Castle – A mystery or a thriller – 5/5
    1. For an author who isn’t actually real, except for on TV, Castle writes mystery/police novels like no other.
    2. Another great read from the Castle (Nikki Heat) series.
  4. Frozen Heat – Richard Castle – 4/5
    1. The series just keeps getting better.
  5. Deadly Heat – Richard Castle – 5/5
    1. Chock up another great read for Richard Castle!
  6. My Life in France – Julia Child – A memoir – 4/5
    1. “People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child
    2. Out of all of the memoirs I looked at, I chose this one because Julia Child is proof that it is never too late to start something new; and I wanted to read about how, and why she finally found what she wanted to be when she grew up.
    3. Just reading Julia’s description of Paris, and all of France, makes you feel like you were really there.
    4. I picked up some French words while reading this: Incroyable! And Ravissant!


  1. Raging Heat – Richard Castle – 5/5
    1. As soon as I started this, I wanted to devour it. “Richard Castle” writes books for the serial reader.
    2. This book ending is a bit of “art imitating art.”
  2. Property of a Noblewoman – Danielle Steel – 5/5
    1. There is a MAJOR mind-blowing moment about a third of the way through. By the end of the book I was correct in my original guess.
    2. Another Steel masterpiece.
    3. Jewelry and history, two of my favorite things!
    4. This book makes me want to go to Italy.
    5. I read some reviews saying how this book was “predictable”; I have to agree to a point, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.


  1. Hollow City (Miss Peregrine book 2) – Ransom Riggs – 5/5
    1. This book makes you want to look around at the world you’re in and find people’s peculiarities.
  2. Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine book 3) – Ransom Riggs – 5/5
    1. This one moves a little slower than the first two, but there is lots of action so that makes up for it a little.
    2. A happy ending for all!
    3. I have recommended this series to tons of people, young and old alike.
  3. A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie R. King – 4/5
    1. Slower start than I expected, especially after the adventure that was The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Book 1 in the Russell/Holmes series).
    2. Found something out about Sherlock Holmes; may have to read some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to find out if it is true.
    3. Ending was a little different than I expected it to be; different but good.
  4. Driving Heat – Richard Castle – 4/5
    1. Good read, but slow at times. Took me longer to read than expected.
    2. A few parts had me wanting to read way past my bedtime.


  1. A Letter of Mary – Laurie R. King – 5/5
    1. This book has that good ‘ole Sherlock Holmes “charm” and banter.
    2. I could NOT put this book down. The storyline was upbeat and interesting.
    3. The “case” in this book made me really have to think about who might have actually committed the crime.
  2. The American Heiress – Daisy Goodwin – 3/5
    1. I had been wanting to read this book and it turned out not quite as good as I expected.
    2. Good flow, but you can tell the writing is from a new author – a bit of inexperienced writing.
    3. The author was slow at continuing some of the story lines.
    4. The end turned out much different than I expected.
    5. The more I thought about this book, after finishing it, the less I liked it. I could never really figure out the characters, or what they really wanted for themselves and each other.
    6. I wish there had been more back story and less whining – you can tell this was a debut novel.
  3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn – 1/5
    1. Decided to read this to see what all of the hype was about, and I was VERY disappointed.
    2. Totally lost me not even 10% of the way through.
    3. Boring from the start.
    4. Not real sure what all of the hype was about.
    5. Girl on the Train – MUCH BETTER in comparison.
  4. Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science & the World – Rachel Swaby – A book about science – 5/5
    1. As a science nerd, this book drew me in just from the title and synopsis.
    2. I wanted to finish this book in one night, and I may have had it not been “bed time”.
    3. I read about a lot of scientific discoveries that I didn’t know were found by women (i.e. APGAR Test).
    4. I love the fire, drive, and spunk of all of the women in this book.
    5. “Any girl can be glamourous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr (a brilliant scientist and actress).


  1. Labor Day – Joyce Maynard – 5/5
    1. Started off a little slow, but as I got further into it I wanted to keep reading.
    2. Ending turned out different than I expected.
    3. The relationship between Henry and his mother is like a rollercoaster of emotions, but as the book goes on you realize why his mother treats him the way she does.
  2. The Boy in Striped Pajamas – John Boyne – 4/5
    1. I saw the movie a few years ago, and was devastated by it. Knowing that I would go on an emotional rollercoaster, I chose to read this anyway.
    2. I wish the author would have used the German spellings for certain names and places. As the story went on I realized why he did not do this toward the end.
    3. Even though I knew how the story was going to end, I still got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.


  1. Mycroft Holmes – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse – x/5
    1. I was excited to read this book from the first time I saw on the shelf at a bookstore.
    2. I was unable to finish due to my Kindle messing up and not allowing me to access anything, much less this book.
  2. After You – Jojo Moyes – /5
    1. I loved when I found out that there was a sequel to Me Before You!!!
    2. Interesting plotline in the continuing story of Will and Louisa.



Fourth of July Firecrackers

 I know this post is REALLY late, but I still wanted to share it with you all. I love these things that much. I had posted it on another site and didn’t get any traffic. I more recently made these for a work function and they were gone in minutes. These will become a staple for all future family functions and parties.
When my family decided to get together for the Fourth of July, I immediately knew what I was going to make. These peppers are the perfect addition to any family BBQ or pot luck.
15 jalapenos
Sliced bacon
1 block of cream cheese
1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice
30 toothpicks
Cut jalapenos in half and remove seeds

Mix together cheeses

Spread cheese mixture into each of the jalapeno halves until all of the mixture is gone

Wrap bacon around each jalapeno and stab with a toothpick to hold the bacon in place
Place in a 400 degree oven for 25-28 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and cheese is bubbly.
The original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction says you can keep leftovers for up to 4 days, or assemble and freeze for up to 2 months. Mine did not last that long on the 4th, they were gone in about 10-15 minutes.

Sample review 1

I LOVE samples; and by “love” I mean, I have a basket that is overflowing with samples that I have collected over the last few years. If a company gives it away as a sample, I probably have it or have gotten it in the past. With my overwhelming abundance of these samples, I have decided to do a review on them. 

My first sample is the Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion*. 

I have a bad habit of forgetting to put lotion on after getting out of the shower so I thought, “why not just put it on while in the shower!” 

Pros and cons of this sample. 

Pro – my skin was softer than usual after getting out of the shower. 

Pro – very light scent, if any at all. 

Con – I think this particular sample was made for someone who is 5’2″ and 90 pounds; I am around 5’8″ and 150, so needless to say there wasn’t much to go around. 

*Note: I am not paid to endorse this product, I am just giving my opinion of it. 

Christmas gift boxes

I am a huge addict of Pinterest, especially when it comes to Christmas gift time; and every time I’m on there I see all of these wonderful gift box/basket ideas. This year when it came to gift giving time at work I decided to do gift boxes for the two ladies that have been my friends for the last 6-7 years, so here goes. 

I started with a collapsible box from Walmart for both, I then added things that I thought each of them would like. 

Box 1: 

Collapsible box, blanket, box of tea, a teapot/mug combined, fuzzy socks, bubble bath, lotion, face mask, and a bar of chocolate. 

Box 2: 

Collapsible box, blanket, Epsom salts for aches and pains, candle, fuzzy socks, a Japanese washcloth, face mask, lotion, and a bar of chocolate. 

Later on I also received a huge box of Garnier Millecular Cleansing water and Garnier Clearly brighter moisturizer, so I added one each in both boxes*.  

*Note: I did not receive any endorsements for this. 

Below I have added pictures of the construction of each box. 


Reading list 2015

I have decided that my New Year’s resolution each year will be to read more books than the previous year, my list last year included 24 books read; and this year I was only able to read 22, even though I had an original goal of 30. To track how many books I read in a year I use the Goodreads yearly reading goal. I used the “pick-and-read” system that I began using last year to determine what book to read, I revised it to include the type of book I should read instead of just picking the title of book.

2015 was the “year of the series”; meaning that I read more books that were part of a series than standalone books, not that I minded.

Here is a list of the books I read in 2015 and my thoughts on each.

I have also added the number of stars 1-5 (*-*****) on my rating of each book.

All books with a √ are my favorite books that I read.


  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien – I began this series in 2014, and knowing I had to finish it I decided to start my year with book two. The longer I read this series the more I appreciated the avid fans of it. *****
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien – Finishing this series was heartbreaking, I really wish Tolkien had written more books in this series. I would have loved to have known if Frodo got married and started his own Hobbit family. *****
  3. Atonement by Ian McEwan √ – A BOOK WITH A ONE WORD TITLE – I am huge fan of this movie, and found that the book and the movie mirrored each other fairly well. I loved this book so much that I ended up reading it in two days. *****
  4. Persuasion by Jane Austen – I found this to be very slow all the way through; for being such a short book it took me a long time to read. **
  5. Naked Heat by Richard Castle – A BOOK BASED ON OR MADE INTO A TV SHOW – Having read the first novel in this series last year I knew I wanted to read more, so that is why I picked it when I drew the strip. ****
  6. The Gift by Danielle Steel – A BOOK THAT CAME OUT THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN (1986) – This was actually a reread for me, I didn’t mind though. I have probably read this Danielle Steel book more than any others of hers. ****
  7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon √ – When I drew this book I didn’t realize what I was getting into. This series was INTENSE! I could not get enough. The relationship between Jaime and Claire to start their relationship was wonderful. I loved going back in time to Scotland. *****
  8. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 2 in the Outlander series started out slow, but once I got into it, it turned out to be a wonderful book. *****
  9. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon √ – Outlander book 3 was one of my favorites in the series. *****
  10. Bossypants by Tina Fey – A FUNNY BOOK – I ended up reading this in the middle of the Outlander series because I was having to wait on book 4 to come up on my OverDrive app. This was a lot funnier than I thought. Highly recommended. ****
  11. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 4 was worth the wait. The way it showed the relationship of Brianna and Roger was one of my favorites in the series. *****
  12. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 5 of the series took me to historical places I had only read about in history books, and I loved it! *****
  13. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 6 took the series to a whole new level. *****
  14. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 7 had many ups and downs, I almost couldn’t keep up, not that I minded. *****
  15. Written in My Own Hearts Blood by Diana Gabaldon √ – I was really sad when I finished book 8. Book 9 is being written, and I wanted to read it immediately after I was done with 8. *****
  16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling √ – A BOOK THAT WAS MADE INTO A MOVIE – When I picked this slip, I figured why not reread the HP series. This is one of my favorite series to read, as it is one of my favorite series to watch, *****
  17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling √ – Harry Potter, need I say more? *****
  18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling √ – Sirius Black = best godfather ever; after he was found innocent of course.
  19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling √ – My favorite movie, and my favorite book. *****
  20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling √ – I wish I were a witch so I could have a group of bodyguards like the Order. The death of Sirius hurt me just as bad as the first time I read it. *****
  21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling √ – As this series comes to a close I always get a little sad because I begin to fall in love with all of the characters. *****
  22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling √ – When I get to the final book in the HP series, I want to relish it and read it very slowly. I wanted to do it this time, but I also wanted to finish the series before the end of the year. This is another series where I wish there were more to it, I would love to know what happens to the original characters’ children while they’re at Hogwarts. *****


I have included my reading resolution lists for 2016, that I can add to my “book tribute” bucket. In 2014 I found a wonderful idea of picking a book out of a hat, or in my case a Tide Pods container (see last year’s book blog); I then took an old envelope and put all of the books I picked in it, I wrote on the slip when I started the book and when I finished the book. I also put each book I finished on the back of the envelope; in a separate notebook I put my list to keep better track of what I read.


I read most of my books on the Overdrive library app, it is the perfect way to read books if you have a library card.


I hope you can find a great read or two on my list.

See you in 2016!


book 1book 2book 3

Cheesy taco pie

My grandma used to make a similar recipe to this, except it was from one of those boxed meals from the grocery store; so when I found this recipe on The Country Cook’s blog I thought I would give it a try. 

This is great for when you don’t have a lot of time; so here goes. 

1 pound ground beef (I’m sure you could use ground turkey or chicken also)

Taco seasoning

Flour tortillas 

1/2 cup salsa con queso (I eyeballed it) 

Shredded cheese

Brown meat in a pan, drain grease. Sprinkle seasoning on meat. Mix in queso until combined. 

Spray a round baking pan. Place tortilla on the bottom. Layer meat and cheese on tortillas in three layers. 

Cook for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Here is the link to the original recipe: