Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Love It or Leave It

 

Love It

// I have my first Stitch Fix coming August 8th.  I've been on the fence about it but since I'm looking for some new work clothes, I thought I would give it a shot.  I hope the quality is on par with the prices.
 
// I've been splurging and getting pedicures with one of my girlfriends every other week.  I have one scheduled for today.  I usually only get one once a season but I'm loving the treat. We've been sneaking wine in coffee cups and grabbing dinner afterwards. Girl time is good for the soul.
 
// I've got some regular readers/commenters around here.  You know who you are.  Just know you are muchly appreciated. I love seeing the emails from you.
 
// My Chitty has been such a snuggle bug lately. It's been almost a year since he found us.  It feels like he's been part of our family forever.
(Sidenote: I always feel weird calling my two person unit a family.)
 
 

Leave It

// The humidity this week and also the fact that it seems like most weekends this summer when I've set my heart on doing some sort of activity, the weather is calling for thunderstorms all weekend.  It's nice all week and then crappy on the weekend. Can't a girl get a break.  How am I supposed to complete my summer bucket list?
 
// My lack of creativity. I've read some killer blog posts lately and I guess I'm having a hard time finding my "voice" and something interesting/inspiring to write about. I like writing fun posts but I also want to write unique and thought provoking posts that create discussions.  Where do you find your inspiration?
 
// Reading lately. Either I'm just not into it or I'm not into the books I'm reading.  I dunno. I've read four books this month. Four. And I'm still reading the fourth...since the 16th.
 
// Early bedtimes.  I'm a total night owl and I would generally stay up to around midnight on work nights.  But since my work day starts earlier now, I have to go to bed around 10:30-11. It's kind of cramping my style.
 
What are you loving right now?
 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weekending & Rambles

 
 
+ I'm on my second week at the new job. Not going to lie, the first few days I hated it. But I finally feel like things are coming around. Or rather I am. The job and the company as a whole are a complete 180 from where I was working so that was a little struggle for me at first. I realized that I needed to be more open minded and embrace this opportunity so that is what I'm working on this week.  It's all about the mind set.
 
+ We went on our annual canoe trip this past weekend.  This was our fifth year going and it was a blast as always.  We camp in a huge field and there's usually 60-100 people every year.  This year it was on the low side because the weather was supposed to be crappy but it ended up being a decent weekend.  We put in up the river so that we end up at the campsite at the end of the day.  It ends up being about 16 miles so it's all day affair of sun and booze.  I came back with about 100 bug bites and a burnt forehead but they were worth it.
 


 
 + I'm addicted to Cheez-It Grooves in the zesty cheddar ranch.  Like I bought another box this week at the grocery store before I even finished the box I had at home addicted. Do yourself a favor and get a box.
 
 
 + The bf got a new toy the other weekend and he's looking pretty good on it if I do say so myself.
 
+ Any recommendations for decent inexpensive work clothes?  My new job is more on the business side of business casual so that means no jeans.  I found a couple tops and a pair of pants at my TJ Maxx and a few things at the BR outlet but looking for a few more basics to add in there.
 
I'm so out of the loop with reading blogs right now as I try and work out my new schedule. I am reading them here and there but it's hard for me to comment on my phone. So what's up with you?  What's new and exciting in your life?
 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Literary Ladies Challenge Update

I started my new job on Monday so I've been trying to figure out a new routine. My new job has a more strict policy when it comes to cell phone and computer usage.  That coupled with the fact that I go to work an hour earlier and have a shorter lunch break is throwing me all out of wack.  I used to read blogs on my lunch break but we are not allowed to eat at our desks. I'm exhausted when I get home and it's not even that I'm that busy because I'm still doing lots of learning and training but that hour I have to get up earlier is leaving me BFF's with my couch.


Book Update

Read: 5/10

1. A YA book (mandatory!) Me Since You by Laura Wiess
Read my review for this HERE
2. Non US Author  (mandatory!) - Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Currently reading this now.
3. A book that was recommended by a blogger  (mandatory!) - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
4. A book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more - The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
5. A book with a kickass female character -Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
6. A book that is or will be a movie (or TV show) - Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Finished this the other week. Thoroughly enjoyed.  I will review with my July book review post.
7. A book written by a comedian or celebrity – or even a memoir if neither of those are your jam. Scattershot: My Bipolar Family by David Lovelace
Read my review of this HERE
8. A book with a one word title. Dedication by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Krauss
9. A suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge! Skin by Ted Dekker
Read my review of this HERE
10. A book about Summer, with Summer in the title, or in any way related to Summer because this is a Summer challenge! Island of the Sequin Love Nun by Christopher Moore
Finished this earlier this month.  I will review in my July book post.

So all in all, not too shabby.  I'm currently reading my sixth book and have four left to finish by September 21st.  I'm planning on having all the books read in August.

How have you done on the challenge?
 



Friday, July 17, 2015

Most Anticipated Books

 
Due Out: August 4th
 
You can best believe that I have this book on pre-order. I will forever read anything Hoffman puts out and in my opinion, I think she just gets better with age. Her last couple books have been her best yet so I can only count on this one being good.
 
Due Out: November 3rd
 
Both of my favorite authors out with new books and only three months apart?! That's like a book lovers dream.  But in all honesty, I'm slightly on the fence about this book.  The synopsis says that it contains his usual themes but to me, the novel seems vastly different than what he normally writes.  The main thing for me is that it is set in the Philippines and Mexico.  This is definitely not his usual backdrop and not where I tend to find my reading interests.  Will I read it?  Definitely but with trepidation.
 
Due Out: January 12th
 
This is probably my most anticipated release.  This is the last installment of the Red Rising Trilogy and I cannot wait to find out what happens with Darrow.  There was a huge cliffhanger at the end of Golden Son and I must find out what happens.
 
Due Out: September 29th
 
While it's a stand alone novel, it is set in the same land as where the Grisha Trilogy was set. Since I'm now obsessed with Bardugo, I'm anxious to see the new characters she's created and the story she's spun.
 
It looks like I have a some great reading to look forward to in the next couple of months. What new releases are you anticipating?
 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I Believe


 
+Everyone needs a mental health day once in a while.
 
+ That hiking & taking to the woods is a form of church.  There's nothing quite like being at the top of a mountain and looking at everything below you.  Bonus points if you get that mountain peak to yourself.
 
+ In seasons.  Yes, even winter has it beauty as much as I begrudingly admit that.
 
+ There's nothing a good meal and good company can't cure.
 
+ My Chitty Lou is the chutest chitty in the whole world.
 
 
 
+ The glass is always half full.  I will forever be the eternal optimist looking for that silver lining.
 
+ In laughing until you cry.
 
+ In the power of music.
 
+ Books are good for the soul.
 
+ In women. That we can do and be anything we set our minds to.
 
+ Sometimes you just need that piece of chocolate.
 
+ In summer dirt road crusin'.
 
 
+ A compliment can turn your day around.
 
+ That people are inherently good.
 
+ Sometimes all you need is a hug.
 
+ A good cry can do you good.
 
+ In blasting your favorite song and singing along at the top of your lungs.
 
+ Good things come to good people.
 
+ In karma.
 
+ That the smell of fresh cut grass is the epitome of summer.
 
What do you believe in?
 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

June Book Reviews



Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend. Ehh
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

Junky by William S Burroughs
Rating: 3/5
"In his debut novel, Junky, Burroughs fictionalized his experiences using and peddling heroin and other drugs in the 1950s into a work that reads like a field report from the underworld of post-war America. The Burroughs-like protagonist of the novel, Bill Lee, see-saws between periods of addiction and rehab, using a panoply of substances including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, paregoric (a weak tincture of opium) and goof balls (barbiturate), amongst others."

Even though this book is set in the 50's, it's not hard to see the similarities between then and now. Heroin addiction is still a problem and verging on becoming an epidemic in a lot of areas of the country.  You may have seen the Rolling Stones cover? Several people I've known and went to school with have overdosed in the last couple years and it is just so incredibly sad. As someone who has witnessed various addictions but never personally suffered from one, it is hard to understand that frame of mind.  This book was a glimpse into that world.

How It Ends by Laura Weiss
Rating: 4.5/5
"Seventeen-year-old Hanna has been in love with Seth for as long as she can remember, but now that she and Seth are in an actual relationship, love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seth is controlling and all they seem to do anymore is fight. If that’s what love is, Hanna doesn’t want any part of it. Besides, she has something else on her mind: graduation. But she’s been ignoring the school’s community service requirement, and now she needs to rack up some hours in a hurry.
Hanna volunteers as a caretaker for her neighbor Mrs. Schoenmaker—an elderly woman with advanced Parkinson’s whose husband can’t always be there to watch over her. While caring for Mrs. S., Hanna becomes mesmerized by an audiobook that the older woman is listening to, a love story of passion, sacrifice, and complete devotion. She’s fascinated by the idea that love like that really exists, and slowly, the story begins to change her."


This book. Sigh. I read this in a day because the story just sucked me in. The ending was beautifully tragic. Mrs. Schoenmaker's story was sad and dark at times but also hopeful.  That even in the darkest of times, there is light. The book made you think about your opinions on assisted suicide and cast light on the topic of the forced sterilizations of the 1930's. Loved, loved.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult 
Rating: 4/5
"For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts."

I didn't have any expectations going into this book because the last couple Picoult books have not been winners for me but man, has she redeemed herself.  I was utterly engrossed with this book.  It helped that I'm a huge fan of elephants so the book pretty much had me at hello. I absolutely loved the elephant aspects of this story.  And we all know that Picoult doesn't write a book that hasn't been thoroughly researched. And that ending? The twist was unexpected and I never saw it coming.

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo 
Rating: 5/5
"Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life--a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling."
  
You can read my fangirl review of this series here. Long story short, go read it now! 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler 
Rating: 3/5
"Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion … she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence."

In some ways, I identified with Rosemary, who is the narrator of this book.  She has felt like an outsider for much of her life, especially her childhood.  Kids have this sixth sense for anyone that's different.  She has a hard time making friends and was picked on for much of her school years. 
I liked the psychological parts of this book especially in relation to humans vs. chimps. I've always been interested in psychology and the way we work so parts of this book were very interesting to me. But unfortunately, this book didn't blow me away. I prefer if a book is going to be centered around a specific animal character, for you to get some sort of insight into that animal.  Fern was the focus of the book but Fern herself is such a small part.  I think I needed to hear more from her to be able to connect with the story.

Skin by Ted Dekker
Rating: 2/3
Literary Ladies Book  
"A freak storm has spawned three tornadoes that are bearing down on the town of Summerville.
Yet under the cover of the storm looms a much more ominous threat: A vindictive killer known as Red who's left a string of victims in his wake and is now bent on exacting his final revenge on the unsuspecting town."

Man, what a disappointment this book was.  This was my first Dekker book and I still have his Circle Series on my bookshelf to read.  After I finished this book, I read the reviews and there seemed to be some consensus that this was not one of his best books.  So I will give him another shot.
I thought the writing was atrocious and the characters were very one dimensional.  I did find the premise of the story interesting and thought provoking regarding mind alternation and alternate realities. And truthfully, these theories might not be based that far in fiction.  I just could not get past the bad writing and lack of character development to even semi enjoy the plot.

Scattershot: My Bipolar Family by David Lovelace
Rating: 3/5
Literary Ladies Book 
"Scattershot is David Lovelace's poignant, humorous, and vivid account of bipolar disorders effects on his family, and his gripping exploits as he spent his life running from and finally learning to embrace the madness imprinted on his genes. Four out of five people in David Lovelace's immediate family have experienced bipolar disorder including David himself. In 1986, his father, his brother, and David himself were all committed in quick succession. Only his sister has escaped the disease."

I thought this was a pretty decent account of someone living with and dealing with others having bipolar disorder. I liked that it wasn't overly preachy on the such and such changed my life and now I've learned and changed my ways line that a lot memoirs like to take. I will say that it was a little too religious centric for my liking.  The family was very religious and Lovelace's parent's disorder was around manifested in religious hallucinations. His father was a preacher/studied religion so even when he wasn't having a manic episode, there was a lot of religious talk.  For that reason alone, I disconnected from the book and couldn't rate it higher.

Me Since You by Laura Weiss
Rating: 3.5/5  
Literary Ladies Book
"Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived."

I think if I hadn't of read How It Ends earlier in June, I wouldn't have been so critical of this book. This book was good on it's own but it was no where near How It Ends. The choice the dad in this book made was really hard not to be angry with so that partly clouds my judgement.  I think it was a decent YA novel. 
 
Must Reads: The Grisha Trilogy, Leaving Time & How It Ends
Skip: Skin 


Life According to Steph
Linking up with Steph

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review: The Grisha Trilogy


Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend. Ehh
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.
 
Series Rating: 5/5

So I'm just going to fangirl and flail for a second about this series.  I will forever read anything that Leigh Bardugo writes.  The Grisha Trilogy has anything you could want in a book.  
Strong female character-check 
 Best friend turned love interest-check  
 The dark evil character-check 
 Saving the world from said evil character-check

Anything that I write about this series will not do it justice.  I literally read all three books in about 5 days.  Every character was unique and developed and I even found myself routing for the other side at times. The world that Bardugo built is reminiscent of Russia and it is so intricate and detailed.  I absolutely loved the folklore aspect of the books.  If there was one reason to read the books, it would be for The Darkling.  He's the evil character I mentioned above but man oh man, it was hard not to be drawn to him. He is the perfect bad boy. I mean, if that's your thing.

Summary (Shadow & Bone):

 Ravka is torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a dark impenetrable place where monsters feed on human flesh.  When Alina's troop is attacked by them while trying to cross the Fold and her best friend, Mal, is severely injured, she ends up revealing a hidden power she never knew she had.  In doing so, she becomes the most desired person in the land.  Grisha's are the elite people of Ravka who possess powers and rule the country and she has the most desired one of all, one that could save the country from the Fold and restore the world. The Grisha's are ruled by the Darkling.  Alina is taken to the palace where the Grisha's train and it put under the Darkling's wing.  He has special plans for her and her powers.

I won't review the other two books because I don't want to give too much away but Siege and Storm is where my favorite character, after the Darkling of course, appears; Sturmhond (Storm Hound). With the entrance of Sturmhond, there's a love quartet going on and I found myself wanting Alina to pick each of them at one point or another. Mal is her best friend and his love for her in unconditional.  He made many sacrifices for her.  The Darkling is the bad boy you love to hate.  His connect with Alina is undeniable and I believe even until the end, he did love her.  Sturmhond is the underdog.  He's the wise cracking, adventure loving guy who charms and annoys her all at the same time.

What I Loved:

EVERYTHING As I said, the world building and the folklore were superb. Sometimes with YA books, the writing can be lacking but not with Bardugo.  There was so much going on and I found I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Just when you think you have things figured out and know where the story is going, you don't. 
I can't say it enough about how well even the secondary characters were developed. I loved that Bardugo included a same sex relationship.
THE DARKLING Alina and his steamy relationship was everything I wanted. The way you would start to feel for him and kind of warm to him and then in the next instant, he would go and reveal his dark side and make you hate him again.  It's just so hard to not have a soft spot for him.  Like the darkness ruined him and he knows and has embraced it but he's still a boy under all the evil who wants to be loved. 

What I Didn't Love:

The lack of the Darkling in the Siege and Storm and the lack of Sturmhond in Ruin and Rising.  They were by far my two favorite characters and I just needed to know everything about them. I would have loved to be inside both of their heads at different points during the story line.
I can honestly say there was not much I didn't love about this series.  The Grisha Trilogy is definitely added to my top favorite books.

Cast of Characters:

 Overall:

Go and read this series now!  And be prepared to stay up waaay past your bedtime reading "just one more chapter". 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Currently 7.7.15

My Chitty is obsessed with our peony bushes almost as much as I am.

THINKING:

That I only have two weeks left at my current job. I just put in my notice today and it was very bittersweet.  I've worked at my current company for 7 years and I absolutely love my job and the people I work with but since I'm not going to relocate with my job, it was something that had to be done. During this whole process, I was constantly reminded about how far hard work and a positive attitude go. Even if you don't think so, people notice when you go that extra step. I can't tell you how amazing/rewarding it feels when your current employer is fighting to keep you. 

READING:

 
This is one of my picks for the Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge.  It's classic Christopher Moore.  If you haven't read him, he's along the same lines as Carl Hiaasen or Tom Robbins.  Very funny, tongue in cheek humor.  He's probably best know for Lamb: The Gospel According to Bif. It's good light reading.  This is my fourth read for the challenge.  So far, the other three books were misses for me.  Actually the last four books I've read in general have been not so good.  I'm liking this one so far so hopefully my reading slump is starting to pick up.

WATCHING:


This show started two weeks ago on USA and I'm slowly becoming obsessed.  The third episode is on Wednesday so you still have time to catch up.  Elliot is a hacker with social anxiety who is recruited by a hacker anarchist group, think Anonymous, to help take down Evil Corp and right the wrongs of the world. Go watch it now.
 

ANTICIPATING:

Our annual canoe trip the end of July.  This will be our fifth year going and I'm so excited.  It's a weekend full of camping, drinking and floating down the river in our canoes.  I literally have no pictures from any of the years.  I'm always having way to much fun and embarrassing myself.  Maybe this year I will get a picture or two.

LOVING:

 
This boy I get to do life with.  This is from the other weekend when we went disc golfing.  I love doing new things with him and just savoring the time I get to spend with him.  Life sure is better with him around.

PLANNING:

On getting a planner...haha see what I did there?  With the start of my new job, I want to start using a planner instead of relying on my calendar and hand written to do lists for every aspect of my life.  I think it's time to consolidate.  Any recommendations?  I've been thinking about either one from May Designs or I'm going to wait until the 15th and order one of the new Day Designers.

LUSTING:

 
 


 These Birks.  I've been wavering back and forth on purchasing these.  I know I would wear them all the time but I mean, do I really need more sandals? I think I need to reward myself on something.

SEEING:

 
These gorgeous wildflowers in my front yard. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Give me wildflowers over roses any day.
 

 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shameless Plug

I've just joined Bloglovin.  Find and follow my blog there!


Thanks for the support!

 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#merica


//Craft Beer

//Religious Freedom
While I am not religious, I appreciate that as an American I am free to believe in whatever I choose.

//SCOTUS #lovewins

//BBQ & Grilling

//Freedom

//Veterans & Active Military
I live in a country where people choose to lay down their lives to defend our country.  Not because they have to but because they want to, because they believe in this country and want to protect the freedoms we have.

//The American Dream
It might not look the same as it did 50 years ago but we all have the right to pursue our dreams and make them a reality.

//Diversity
We are a country of many races, beliefs and languages.

//Freedom of Speech

//Reality TV

//Women's Rights
We have come a long way since the women's suffrage movement but we still have a ways to go. Hopefully in the next 100 years, equal pay and the right to make informed health decisions are a thing of the past. However, we live in a country where we have the right to education, vote and drive. 

//Hamburgers #obvi

What makes you proud to be an American?


 
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