Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thoughts and stuff

I finally watched Big Little Lies on the flights to and from Oz, and I didn't love it. I don't remember the book very well, but yeah. The book was better. I mean, it almost always is, but I still had high expectations because of the cast. It wasn't bad, just not as amazing as I'd hoped.

I watched the trailer for Ready Player One, which I also feel meh about. I really liked the book, it's one of those books that in hindsight I'd rate higher. I only rated it 3 stars because a lot of the references went over my head, but I still really enjoyed the story. So it's more like a 4. Can I just change it now? Anyway. I don't think the trailer really did the book justice.

KC's grandpa is really sick. He was recently diagnosed with a rare and advanced cancer, and he's currently undergoing aggressive treatment. We've been doing all we can to help of course, and my mother in law is run off her feet. We made some frozen meals - without a kitchen you guys, that's no easy feat - including sweet and sour chicken, honey mustard chicken, chicken enchiladas, buffalo ranch chicken and beef burritos. I have never made freezer burritos before, I have NO idea why. KC loved them and wanted to keep the ones I made for his mom. But seriously, they were so easy and I'm definitely going to try a non-meat version for me.

We've been relying on freezer meals or things that can be microwaved lately, and I've fallen back in love with Trader Joe's gnocchi. Goodness it's delicious. I wish KC didn't like it so I could keep it all to myself.

In an effort to get better with meal planning when I have a proper kitchen again (or at least an oven) I bought this meal planning pad with magnets. It seems to be sold out right now but it was only $10. That's not an affiliate link, fyi.

As I mentioned, our oven arrived with a big dent in the side and the replacement was supposed to take a week and then a month (!!!) but thankfully it is coming this Saturday. I am SO excited to have an oven again, this has been the hardest part of the reno for sure. Plus, it's gas. Yay!

I miss Taylor Swift. THERE. I said it. I hope she releases new music soon.

I don't drink coffee. Never have. Won't say never will because things change. But the last few times it's come up, whether online or in real life, the person I am talking to loses their damn mind. Like I'm threatening to take their coffee away. It's okay that I don't drink coffee for pete's sake. Who cares? I just don't understand caring that much about what someone else drinks/eats/watches/wears/cares about.

We are trying to drink less soda. I've given up soda several times, obviously always failed eventually. I'm very much an all or nothing person, so cutting back is weird. Like I can have one or two, not twelve. I'm okay with plain water, KC isn't a big fan so we've been experimenting with sparkling water. He likes the ones from Trader Joe's but they have too much of that sparkling water after taste/kick for me and I was not a fan. The kroger ones have splenda in them I think, but they taste better.

Any sparkling water recommendations?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Books Lately

Best day in blogland! I have read a few books since the link up even though we've been busy with our kitchen renovation. Can't wait to see what everyone else has been reading.

Confessions - Kanae Minato - 5 Stars
multiple povs surrounding a little girl's death

Holy messed up book batman. Ending legit jaw drop. Can't even make real sentences right now.

Honestly though, is this the most amazing book ever? Probably not but I straight up could not put it down and I just thought it was really fabulous. Hard to read in some parts and totally f*cked up but wow. 

Happiness for Beginners - Katherine Center - 5 Stars
woman goes on 'wild' like journey a year after divorce

I read this right after Confessions because I needed something light and fluffy. I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, it was so adorable. My little synopsis up there doesn't do it justice. Sure it's 'chick-lit' but if you like those kind of books I recommend. It was funny, interesting, light without being too fluffy. It had a few heavy topics thrown in but it was overall a light book. Predictable but in a good way. I really liked it. I wish the epilogue was more fleshed out but only because I love a good epilogue.
Alpha & Omega series - Patricia Briggs - 4 Stars
paranormal romance

This series has been on my list forever and I'm so annoyed that I didn't realise it wasn't finished. The next (final?) book comes out next year. Rage. I really enjoyed this series though, I felt like it was interesting, funny with the right amount of romance. The books did start to run together a bit and seem very similar, but I do recommend if this is your jam. I know the covers are ridiculous. Kind of comes with the paranormal romance territory.
The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy - Beau North & Brooke West - 4 Stars
P&P retelling groundhog day style

Oh my goodness, why did I wait so long to read this! It was such an enjoyable read, such a fresh and unique retelling. The epilogue ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. Goodness. The only thing I didn't like - besides the epilogue, sobs - were the things missing in the end, as in (highlight for spoilers) Wickham never got his just desserts and Elizabeth ended up never knowing about the first proposal. No biggie since it all worked out and Elizabeth caught up in the end, but still. I think this was a great P&P retelling and I'm kicking myself I had it on my netgalley list for so long. 
Received copy from NetGalley
Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility - Hillary Manton Lodge - 3 Stars
sense & sensibility retelling with the sisters running a tea shop

I don't think I have ever read an S&S retelling, so I was excited for this one. I missed that it was 'christian fiction' when I requested it though and I almost just returned it without reading. I’m really glad I gave it a go! It wasn't overly religious at all, just a couple of references. It was cute, funny, and I liked it. Something was missing for me though. If you could give half stars it would be 3.5. I really liked this quote: Every woman swoons over a man walking out of a lake in a white shirt. It’s a universal truth. 

Received copy from NetGalley
A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers - 4 Stars

I really loved the first book and at first I was bummed when I realised this book follows different characters. It eventually grew on me though. It focuses on 2 characters and their stories, I vastly preferred one over the other. Obviously I recommend if you liked the first one, and I just read there is going to be a 3rd, yay!
Fat Chance - Nick Spalding - 3 Stars
couple goes on biggest loser type radio competition

This was enjoyable enough and passed the time just fine. It was predictable, silly, light. There are a couple of things that could offend easily, but I just took it for what it was, the author trying to be funny even if I didn't find it funny myself. But in spite of that, I did think it was a cute funny book overall. 
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue - 3 Stars
nurse is called to monitor child who hasn't eaten in 4 months

Goodness this book was such a slog to get through. I very nearly gave up on it several times but since I suck at giving up on books, I kept going. There were definitely parts I liked and I think overall the story worked well, it was just super slow and I wanted to shake a lot of the characters.

I am glad I read it though because the last 25% was good and I really liked the ending, but ugh. I don't know if I'd necessarily recommend it. 

Received copy from NetGalley
memoir of her life/time with scientology

I didn't know anything about Leah Remini and I'm not necessarily a 'fan', but I gotta admit I was curious about Scientology and all that. It was definitely interesting with a side of wtf how do people believe this and Leah seems funny and honest. 

nothing this time!

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

TL;DR - I recommend Confessions, Happiness for Beginners and Troublemaker if any of those sound like your jam.

Read anything decent lately?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July 2017 Recap - What's New With You Link Up

Good morning everyone! Time for another link up with Gretch & me, all we ask is that you link back somewhere in your post. Thanks a bunch. I'll be doing another monthly recap.

What's New With You

Oh my goodness, what a month! June and July are always my favourite months of the year because we do a lot, travel and stuff. It was hard at first, adjusting to summer being in the middle of the year vs at the end of the year, but I'd say I'm pretty used to it now. Not gonna lie though, I'm ready for KC to go back to work because I like our routines and summer stuffs all that up.

But first, July! We got back to KY on the 2nd, I went back to work on the 3rd - thinking it would force me to get back in routine and skip jetlag, LOL NO, thankfully it was only a half day and then we were off on the 4th.... and I'm pretty sure I slept the entire day away. Oops.

July has very much been the month of the kitchen renovation. As you all know, I am crazy planner lady, and I normally wait until the last minute to get KC involved in anything because it just works better that way. Figure it all out myself - travel, renovation, whatever - and then bring him in for opinions and such. That way he gets to skip the crazy part of my planning which stresses him out.

As I've mentioned, we are going with an ikea kitchen, and we are super excited! We ordered the cabinets and countertops on the 15th. I've been ordering other things throughout the month - my new gas range (which arrived with a not nice dent and is going back), dishwasher, microwave, sink, floors, etc. We have everything except for the replacement oven.

We've had the electrician and the plumber come in and have a look at everything, they have to come multiple times but hopefully should be done this week. The plumber is at the house as we speak (yay for KC being off in the summer!). Then once they are done, we get the drywall guys in. Once they are done we will paint and put all the cabinets together (yes, really).

We had to demo the kitchen before the electrician and plumber could come in and do their thing. We absolutely could not have done this without my brother in law, I highly recommend you get you one of those! Ha. I like to think I am pretty handy and strong, but there are just some things I can't do. We got the entire kitchen demo'd in 3 hours, pretty good! We would not have felt comfortable knocking things down if it weren't for the walls we knocked down a couple of months ago with my coworker. We felt super comfortable after already doing it before. It can be a bit overwhelming!

I tried not to be too mad that KC and Patrick ripped out one soffit perfectly and then the other one, they ripped out too much of the ceiling. It's okay, it's fine, drywall guys will fix it. You can see below kind of how much more of the ceiling they ripped out. Oh well, right, shit happens.

After the main demo, KC and I worked on the floors for another 3 hours (removing 3 layers of lino, so NOT FUN). It was so tedious and way harder than it looked.

Finally done with the lino and the demo:

We used a bagster again, I really didn't think we'd be able to but it all fit! Someone came and took the kitchen sink, lol. The dishwasher and oven were taken by Lowes when they delivered the new stuff.

The next day we had to put in wood and underlayment in the areas that we'd removed cabinets, because our cabinets went straight to to subfloor. Once that was done, we sanded everything. So dusty!

The following weekend, we did the floors! We went with sheet vinyl tiles for many reasons, the number one being I just don't like real tile very much. KC and I always joke that HGTV would hate us because we hate all the popular things - hardwood floors, tile and granite countertops.

The floor was surprisingly easy and hard at times, though we got it all done in one day - you have to prime the floors, let it dry etc. It's more waiting sometimes. Such a good feeling accomplishing something like that though. But goodness we were sore the next day. Nothing like kneeling on wood floors for several hours to ruin your knees.

Here is my current kitchen you guys. It's fun, I tell you. Thank goodness for our electric skillet and slow cooker! Oh and the microwave, naturally. I'm also super excited about my gorgeous HUGE new sink! Can't wait to get that installed. I am a weirdo and the dishes are my second favourite chore - after laundry.

Oh, and somewhere in the middle of this, I bought a new bathroom vanity and KC put it together while I was at work. That was a lovely surprise to come home to! The old vanity was falling apart - literally - so this is a huge improvement until we can do a full on renovation.

And that's about it! Our ikea delivery was missing 59 items - yes, really - so they delivered the rest earlier this week but we are still missing 2 items. Our sunroom is packed to the gills with boxes. We are still getting rid of boxes from our move, we'll have boxes forever!

I keep getting sick off and on which is no fun. I was sick when we got back from Australia for like 3 weeks, and then this week I've been feeling really sick but no idea why. I went home early yesterday and had a nice long nap and felt better, so hopefully I've kicked whatever it is. The good thing is, I've somehow managed to kick my sweet tooth since I've been sick and I am okay with that. I'm sure it will come back one day!

If you'd like to link up with us, please do so below

What's new with you?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Getting started with NetGalley

I've had a few people ask about NetGalley before and while I am 100% not an expert or the person with the most NetGalley reads, I thought I would do a quick post on how to use NetGalley. Getting started and how to get the most out of it.

If you don't know what NetGalley is, basically it's a way to get free e-books. I mean, what more do you need to know?

Getting started with NetGalley

So. First off, what exactly is NetGalley? As I noted above, it's a place to get free books. Mainly before they are published.

From the NetGalley website:

About NetGalley

NetGalley is an innovative and easy-to-use online service and connection point for book publishers, reviewers, media, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and educators.
NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers--reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators--can join and use NetGalley at no cost.
It's our pleasure and privilege to help publishers in Australia, Canada, France, the UK and US launch new titles to an ever-growing community of professional readers.
Getting started with NetGalley

Now you know what NetGalley is, it's time to sign up

Getting started with NetGalley

Fill in your info - you're going to be a member/reader (unless you want to register as an author or publisher, if so I have zero experience there).

Getting started with NetGalley
Down the bottom it will ask you what type of reviewer you are. As you can see, you can choose to just post on goodreads/amazon etc, even if you have a blog. It's up to you. I don't know if bloggers get approved more or not, you can always change it by editing your profile down the line.

Once you sign up, you'll have to verify your email. Then you are good to go!

This is your profile. I've pointed out a few things I think are important. Up the top right hand corner is your name/profile picture. This is how you will get to your profile. The edit button is how - you guessed it - you edit your profile. The feedback ratio is the amount of books you've been approved vs the amount of books you've sent feedback for. That will come up again later. Lastly, your bio is important.

Getting started with NetGalley

I filled in my info to show you below. Brief bio, link to blog and goodreads. I only did it like this to show you, in your own, you should provide more information. For example, how many followers you have that might see your reviews. If you use affiliate links, perhaps you know how many people click or buy books after you post about them. NetGalley actually has some profile suggestions here.

Getting started with NetGalley

Next up, you're going to click on reading preferences. This is where you will choose categories that you're interested in seeing, and of course, how you link your kindle to your NetGalley profile.

Getting started with NetGalley

To add your kindle email please check out this article. It is really very simple. If you don't have a kindle, don't worry, it works with the free kindle app as well. You can also download a protected epub. You can read with other devices, I just have no experience with them. Check the list out here.

Okay! Now you are signed up and have connected your kindle (or other device). Now what?

Remember that ratio I brought up before? This is important.

Getting started with NetGalley - feedback ratio

Basically, it is your books approved vs books reviewed.

So if you request 1 book and you are approved, you will have 1 book and 0 feedback. See below what happens to your ratio:

Getting started with NetGalley - feedback ratio

If you had more books, your ratio would go down for every book you haven't reviewed. Does that make sense? Let me go and give feedback for the book I just received (more on that in a second).

Getting started with NetGalley - feedback ratio

Ta-da! 100% feedback. Pretty snazzy. They recommend you try and keep it around 80%. The more books you have on your 'shelf' but haven't reviewed, the lower your ratio is. The less books you have on your shelf that need a review - the higher your ratio is. Hope that makes sense.

Now. How do we request/get books? Especially when we have 0 reviews or a low ratio. I'll share a secret. It's not really that big of a secret. Click on 'find titles' and then 'read now'.

Getting started with NetGalley - read now books

Alternatively, click straight on the category you are interested in - children's fiction, literary fiction, horror, humor, etc. I clicked on children's because kids books are super short, that way I can actually read them before giving feedback. Once you're in the category you want to be in, click on read now.

Getting started with NetGalley - read now books

Once you are in the 'read now' section, you can read any book in this section. This is a great way to get your ratio up without having to wait to get approved. The higher your ratio, the more likely you will get approved for other books.

Click on the book you want to read. Once it pops up, click on read now. Then it might ask you why you're interested in the book - cover, author, etc. You can tick any of those or just hit read now again.

Getting started with NetGalley - read now books

Then this page will pop up and you'll notice a couple of things; the orange 1 next to 'your shelf' for starters. This means you have a book on your shelf that needs to be downloaded or sent to your kindle.

Getting started with NetGalley - sending a book to your kindle

You can send a book to your kindle or download it from the page that pops up (above) or if you are logging in at another time and not on the book specific page, click on 'your shelf'.

Getting started with NetGalley - your shelf
'Your shelf' is also where you can see the books waiting for feedback, books you've sent feedback for, and the 'not active' books. Not active means books you were declined for (boo) or pending approval.

Once you've downloaded the book or sent it to your kindle, it's on your shelf under 'give feedback'. When you click on 'your shelf' it will actually take you to this tab, rather than the 'start reading' tab -unless you have a book that needs to be downloaded.

Getting started with NetGalley - your shelf

Once you've downloaded the book, it's yours. It won't disappear from your kindle. However. See that archive date? For this particular book, it doesn't matter, but if you get a book that does have an archive date, you must download it before the archive date otherwise you will lose it.

Generally, I try and read books and publish reviews around the publish date. Key word here is 'try'. Some publishers will actually send you emails asking you not to publish a review too far in advance of the book being published. I kind of accidentally ignore that most of the time - I'm almost always behind on my list so I don't have to worry about it anyway, but still. Something to keep in mind.

Now, remember that feedback ratio? We now have 2 approved books, but only 1 feedback. Lets check out the ratio (I feel like I'm on a tv show or something).

Getting started with NetGalley - feedback ratio

As you can see, my ratio took a hit when I got that second book. Once I review it, my ratio will go back up to 100%. Once you have more and more books, your ratio will not take such a big hit every time you get a new one.

I know several people who've done the 'give feedback' without actually even reading the books, that's totally up to you if you want to do that to get your ratio up quicker. Once you've given feedback for a bunch of 'read now' books and your ratio is nice and cushy, you can go head on over to the 'normal' books where you have to get approved. Now, you can start there if you want and skip the 'read now' trick altogether. It just might not work for ages because of your ratio/lack of reviews.

How I personally find books on NetGalley:

- Through Show Us Your Books, if a blogger mentions they got it off NetGalley, I hop on over to see if it's still there (click on 'find titles' and search, I usually search by the author as it's easier)
- The Most Requested tab. I just browse this tab to be honest.

Getting started with NetGalley - finding books on NetGalley

Olya has a great post on how to get the best books with NetGalley once you get started.

When you find a book you want to request, click on it once and the details will pop up. Like the 'read now' books, you'll hit request and it will ask you why you're interested. I normally tick all of them because it's normally true.

Getting started with NetGalley - requesting a book

Once you've hit send request, it will be pending. You can continue browsing or stare at the screen until NetGalley approves you. I don't recommend this, though I've done it before..

Getting started with NetGalley - pending request

Now, requesting a book does not affect your ratio. It's only when that request is approved.

Here is that 'not active' screen I was telling you about before.

Getting started with NetGalley - pending request

Generally, I get emails when I am approved for books, and about 50% of the time I will get an email that I've been declined. I try not to let it hurt my feelings too much, I can always get it from the library or something.

Once you've read a book, you will 'give feedback' on NetGalley and any other platform you wish - blog, amazon, goodreads etc. Sometimes publishers will email you and ask for links if you didn't include them.

To give feedback, go to your shelf, find the book and click on the 'give feedback' green button on the right.

Getting started with NetGalley - your shelf waiting for feedback

Basically you have two sections - star rating with 'would you be interested in connecting with the author or purchasing the book?' Once you've done those things, hit 'send opinions'. Then scroll down and this is where you put your review. I am not the world's best reviewer so I generally just talk about what I liked and disliked.
Getting started with NetGalley - giving feedback

Now - one last thing. NetGalley obviously keeps a list going for you, but I also keep track of my NetGalley books on Goodreads. I have a tbr-arcs shelf and I also just mark things as arcs once I've read them. You can read more about my organisation weirdness here.

Getting started with NetGalley - keeping track of your ARCs on goodreads

I have read some really good books using NetGalley - and some pretty awful ones, too - but I totally think it's worth it and it's a great way to get free books. All you have to do is write a little review afterwards. Easy peasy.

Here are some of the books I've read using NetGalley over the years:

Getting started with NetGalley - you can get some really good books using NetGalley!

So I think that is about it. I know this is a ridiculously long post, and definitely not interesting unless you're new to/interested in NetGalley, but I hope it's been helpful regardless. If you're ever stuck, NetGalley has an amazing help section.