When seventeen-year-old Maximillion Taylor and his best friend, Jones go to a house party, he doesn't expect to get kidnapped—much less by a succubus—and she's not the only one on the hunt. Thrown into a world of angels and demons, where nothing and no one is what they seem, Max ventures to find his true identity and learn to fight the demons who pursue him. When his origin is revealed, it's a race against the clock for a battle that will determine whether he can protect the ones he loves or succumb to his true nature. Through lies, betrayal, love and pain, Max must prepare to face the demons before it is too late…
A perfect YA novel. Seriously. We have some romance, we have the paranormal aspect, we have a bizarre mystery to basically piece together, and it's not a long book. Win everywhere.
Basically t his is the story of poor Max. Mas gets kidnapped by a really pretty girl who isn't a girl at all, all while his friend Jones watches on. He gets rescued by the girl of his dreams and it becomes the start of a nightmare. Max finds out his dad isn't just a human, super beings are essentially out to get him, his friend also isn't who he was assumed to be, and somehow, Max has fire throwing powers he hand no idea about 24 hours earlier.
I can't really tell you what happens because this is book one in a series and everything else is essentially a spoiler in some way. I will tell you that the beginning is a little odd, but it definitely picks up once Max gets kidnapped and rescued and starts his training. I'm excited to see where Karina goes with the rest of this series. I definitely recommend this if you like YA with a paranormal twist. And fallen angels, come on. Who doesn't love that??
Thursday, March 6, 2014
I'm totally on the boat for this Throwback Thursday business. Mostly because as of late I've been sorting pictures on my computer and I found some that I totally forgot I even had.
But because my birthday is happening on the 10th, I decided maybe I should do one of me being adorable. That turned out to be really hard because man, I was super adorable as a little kid. So I picked a couple.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I feel like I hardly have time to do fun reads right now, so while being sick I finished one so I'll share it with you now.
Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
One of my most favorite things is when I read a book that talks about something that really happened, and the book is so good it makes me want to learn more about it. This book does that for me. I honestly didn't think the "orphan trains" were real but they in fact really were real and it's both horrifying and fascinating. Essentially, if you were a child back in the early 1900's and your parents, for whatever reason, couldn't care for you, you would end up in an orphanage. The orphanages would run the orphan trains and load children up in them with very few belongings and almost nothing of personal value. Then they would parade the children out at different stops and people could just cherry pick a child. As long as you say you'll do right by them and give them a good life, you're good to go. Never mind these people could essentially use the children for slave labor on farms or do god knows what to them. Some children probably went to legitimate homes but most children didn't and would be bounced around, much like present day foster care.
Which is where this story begins. It's the shared story (kind of) of Vivian, who was a rider of the orphan train and Molly, a foster kid who is misunderstood and hates the world. Molly attempts stealing a book from the library and as a consequence, she is to do 50 hours of a community service. Her boyfriend's mother is a housekeeper for Vivian and reluctantly agrees to introduce the two. Molly is to clean out Vivian's attic but what begins as a clean out project quickly morphs into a trip down memory lane. As Molly says at the end, it's more about Vivian seeing everything she's saved one last time.
You hear far more about Vivian's experience on the train as well as the several families she is with before finally finding one that kept her until adulthood. You hear about her first love (which I so badly want to tell you how I feel about the ending of that but I can't because it's a huge spoiler- just know my heart broke and I cried), the daughter she had (and what happened to her), and the wrap up of her story essentially. But you also learn about Molly and you instantly feel terrible for her. You want to smack her foster parents and you just want to take her in yourself.
I finished this book in a flash and it's one of those that I will likely read again. Christina Baker Kline is an absolutely wonderful writer and I am so glad I picked this one up on a whim. Absolutely does not disappoint, I cannot praise this book enough.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Remember my whole post about being sick and having dental issues and maybe starting as a hooker? Of course you do. Well things have taken a turn for the worse and it's really just annoying at this point. I'm on the cusp of 32 and my body is all, "LOL- NOPE" and has basically decided it's over it. It's over everything.
This weekend I felt great. Like, really great. Sure, I was still coughing like a maniac and phlegm was still coming up but it was the first time in weeks (Friday marked five weeks of plague) that I didn't feel weak, tired, feverish, etc. It was kind of grand. So on Saturday I went out with my friend Tammy and had a great day out celebrating my birthday a week early. (Huzzah!) By the time I came home, Matt was in a good mood, I was feeling frisky, and we went on an impromptu date of shopping and a late dinner. When we got home, I won't lie- I was preparing for sexy times. Because when you have the plague for five (!!!) weeks, you got none during that because it's hard to get into something when you are coughing and reaching for Kleenex.
So I'm in the shower. I had a tickle in my throat so I cough. Then I felt something in my side snap. Literally like a twig snapping. Seconds later, pain like nothing I have ever experienced radiates from snapped twig area and I can no longer stand up straight and basically anything I do at this point is excruciating. I managed to get out of the shower but that was about it. Matt had to come help me dry off, get dressed, get into bed and pop Advil. I thought I had broken a rib. Of course, never having done that before I wasn't sure, but what I was sure of was that it was awful pain. But I attempted to get some sleep thinking that if I lay still with a heating pad, it'd just get better.
But then it did not.
Fast forward until 2:00 a.m. and I woke up in extreme pain. Like, child birth felt less painful than this. Matt ends up getting up to help me down the stairs because it's clear laying on my back is not going to happen. I had hopes that if I could just prop myself up on the couch that maybe then I could get a few hours of sleep.
Except that it didn't help either.
By 3:30 a.m. I was googling whether or not this was an emergency room worthy visit. I decided it was not when I looked at my insurance card and saw that I would be liable for most all of the costs incurred. I figured I had made it this many hours, surely I could make it until Urgent Care opened up. And by George, I did.
Only to get an incredibly asshole doctor. I can count how many times I've been to a doctor in the last six years on one hand. I wait until I literally cannot handle it any longer because I hate thinking I am wasting some one's time or that I could just treat myself and save the cost and again, someone else's time. I had to have Matt drive me because I could barely get into the car, I couldn't buckle my own seat belt and I couldn't even turn my body so I clearly was not fit to drive.
When we finally see the doctor, he starts pushing on my side and that prompts me to scream and cry, both of which I do not do at doctor's offices. Not even during the delivery of my children did I scream out like that or cry. But it was brutal. The doctor sighs and says to me, "Don't you think maybe you're being a bit of a baby?" No lie, that's what he said.
He sends me for an x-ray which confirms I didn't break a rib (YAY!!!) but I did tear the cartilage that essentially connects your ribs to your sternum. He's going on about 6-8 weeks recovery, no exercise, no heavy lifting, obviously nothing vigorous to make that cartilage angry, etc. For pain? I get Advil. I tell him flat out Advil isn't going to do it and that I don't feel comfortable taking ibuprofen every 6 hours every day for pain management until this lets up. He then gives me Prilosec so that I don't develop an ulcer with the ibuprofen.
Then he starts saying things like, "I do my own unofficial studies, no woman likes to take Aleve", or "You've got a bit of a low pain threshold, don't you?", "I bet you had an epidural with your children. I can just tell.", etc. Complete asshole. So then I ask what does he recommend for sleep? Because I got none the night before and at this point, I can't even lay down without pain in my side. He gives me a muscle relaxer which I knew wouldn't work. And it didn't, I didn't even feel drowsy.
By the time we left there, I basically didn't feel like I got my money's worth for treatment. Even Matt said, "Is it just me, or did he basically treat you like a pill popper??". And it's true. I felt like I was basically told to stop being a baby and just take the Advil, never mind the fact that when you do take it your stomach screams and you cramp for days afterwards.
For good measure, I called my doctor's office today to let them know I was in Urgent Care so that they could update my file. And again, their response was, "What difference does it make??". Um, I don't know- so you have a record of an ailment? So then I ask if I could get transferred to the appointment desk because I would like to talk to my doctor about my high blood pressure (consistently hanging around 146/91) and their response? "Well, that's not a priority visit so you're looking at a few months out. But if you have chest pains or have alarming symptoms, go to the emergency room."
Now, is it just me or is it just the medical field giving up on life? Does nobody even give a fuck anymore? Good grief.
I need to find a new doctor, clearly, but now people tell me not to because then I really will look like those sketchy doctor hopping stay at home mom's that are pill poppers and stuff. *sigh*
In other news, I have my appointment with an ENT specialist on the 12th to have them look at the sinus cyst situation. Olivia's orthodontic consultation is scheduled for this month so we can get a first opinion on what to do with her mouth. And the first of all of the bills have come in and we're almost at $600 with three more yet to come in.
Friday, February 28, 2014
I tell you, almost every single day when Matt comes home he looks exhausted. And he really is. Matt works, on average, about 75 hours per week. Nobody can ever say that he has a terrible work ethic or doesn't do his job to provide for our family. He really does and he goes above and far beyond.
Every day though, he comes in looking exhausted and I always ask him how his day went and what did he do. Mostly because he's kind of the everything guy at work. He makes tools, fixes tools, fixes machinery, fixes problems on other people's projects, troubleshoots things, basically does whatever needs to be done. As of late though, he's been really frustrated with some people he works with. The majority of his coworkers sound like pretty decent guys. The age really varies, as do the personalities, but it seems like a pretty common mix of guys that would work in a machine shop.
The largest issue is the lack of work ethic. And by that, I mean guys who just don't show up and don't even bother coming in at all. They make their own schedule and see no issue with that. Then you have people who will not, for anything in the world, work beyond their 40 hours a week. But you can bet they are the first clamoring for a raise and the first to complain about not having enough paycheck to cover bills. Matt says he usually just shakes his head and leaves the break room, which sounds about right because it takes a lot to get Matt to voice his opinion. But I can tell it's wearing on him.
Then I was having a conversation today with a woman who said her husband has been laid off for awhile and just cannot find anything. I told her that if they are really strapped- McDonald's is hiring. She completely scoffed at me and said he's going to hold out for something that pays at least $20 an hour. I had to just walk away from her.
Because it's so much the opposite of how I see things.
I feel like, if you're without a job or you have a job that doesn't pay your bills- you work more. You get a job wherever you can even if it is flipping burgers. Because a job is a job. I don't think it's realistic to expect a job that will hire you at $20 an hour to start. Sure, it'd be nice. I've never even had a job that paid that much in my life. I know of quite a few places that are hiring and sure, it's minimum wage or a little bit higher, but it's at least something. It's so frustrating to hear the argument that you can't make ends meet on minimum wage. I get that, I really do. I don't think it's realistic anymore to be able to live on one income.
It seems to me, the issue isn't that the minimum wage is too low. The issue seems to be a combination of people having no work ethic and being completely lazy and unmotivated coupled with a sense of entitlement. Just because your friends can afford the Coach purse doesn't mean you need one. You cannot afford it. Hell, they probably can't afford it either. They probably bought it on a credit card. I guess maybe that's also my issue with unions as well. I think fundamentally, the idea of a union is a great idea. I'm all for protecting worker's rights and making sure people are in a safe work environment. But people want these really outlandish incomes but they want to check out at 40 hours, no questions asked. I don't really understand that. I was always raised to finish what I started. Which even now, if I'm at work I will work until whatever I started was finished or I got to a good stopping point. I can't even tell you how many hours I've worked for free at all of my jobs because I felt a sense of responsibility to get something done. I'm not saying people should work for free, but in places where I've worked overtime wasn't an option but the job had to get done. I'm not even saying that kind of work ethic should be rewarded, I'm saying it should just be expected. I think employers have a right to expect a high level or work out of the people they are paying.
When people ask me why Matt works so much my answer is always that we have bills to pay and what else would he do? He'd come home and be bored on the couch. I don't need to work necessarily, we could get by without my check, but I work because I enjoy having a place to be every day. I like interacting with new people , I enjoy my coworkers, and I like having the feeling I'm needed somewhere.
So the next time you complain about not having enough money- I encourage you to look at how much you work. Do you work your 40 hours and get the hell out of there? That might be your issue.
I'm hoping the coming weeks will get better for Matt at work. When he's stressed out, it stresses me out, and then the kids get the trickle down of that. I'm also hoping that things turn around for us financially soon so we can at least plan a mini summer vacation with the kids. Just a little road trip a few hours away is all I'm asking for. That's not so much to ask, is it?
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Lambs, I have not died. It's been forever, but I assure you it's because I have been sick. And by sick I mean, barely functioning. This is the first day in FOUR WEEKS I have been awake past 7 p.m. I now have severe bronchitis and when I say phlegm is coming out of every hole except for my ears, I am not lying. Let's just say if I was pregnant, I would think I had lost my mucus plug.
But enough of that. Let's talk about why I might need to be a hooker and soon.
Remember the super traumatizing story about my dental history from hell? Yes, well it hasn't ended. In fact it's only just begun. About 6-8 weeks ago I noticed that my face, specifically the sinus area that was originally completely closed off and rendered "non-functioning" after a major surgery in 2001, was hurting. Like, a lot. So instead of going to the dentist, I went to the doctor in the hopes that anything they do my health insurance would cover. Because in the first pony show, health insurance didn't pay for the surgery because an oral surgeon did it while cutting the roots off my molar and inserting rods to hold those molars in. So, because I am not rich, I'm trying to go the other route.
The doctor had no clue what to do so put my on a ridiculously strong anti-biotic that gives you the yeast infection from HELL for ten days. And by "from hell" I mean you want to claw your own vagina out. It was horrible. I also got really sick in the middle of all of this so that was not awesome.
But I'm four weeks beyond that visit, have been sick the entire time, and my face hurts. A lot. So I went to the dentist on Tuesday for my regular cleaning, along with Olivia. He does an x-ray and immediately tells me my last molar on the top on that side? Has to come out. The metal rods in my tooth have cracked it. This sucks because it's partner, the far back molar, has been gone since 2008 because of a similar thing. My only option for chewing capability on that side is a fake tooth which is roughly $5,000. Which is not going to happen.
More alarming is that in the x-ray he can tell that the cyst that was in my sinus before? Has made it's triumphant return. He can't tell me how large it is, but there is clearly something there. So now I am being referred back to my oral surgeon to map out a game plan. We did a quick phone chat and they told me to plan on about $15,000 up front.
*insert manic laughter here*
Bitches, I don't have $15,000. I currently have $186 in my savings. I have about the same in my checking. The likelihood of me having this at my disposal ever? Slim to none. Even if I got dental coverage through the state on my own, it would not cover this. I can get Care Credit, but it only goes up to $5,000.
So now tomorrow I have to call the doctor and see if I can get that ENT referral immediately and go that route before my face blows up. I also now need to schedule to have that tooth removed which is going to be brutal. It's not like a regular tooth because I have four metal rods holding it into my face. I can't even speak of the pain I experienced the first time around with the other molar, and I am not looking forward to this at all. I'm also not looking forward to having to have sinus surgery, AGAIN. The first go around was horrific. I was in pain for months afterwards. You truly have no idea how crucial your sinuses are until you've had this done. I couldn't eat for weeks, it was straight broth (which is why I'm not a fan of soup anymore). I couldn't drink out of a straw for a YEAR. A full year, folks. I had stitches in my nose, the roof of my mouth and my gum line. I had to lay flat for weeks. It hurt to move but eventually you have to pee so bad (and shower) that you have no choice. I really don't want to do this again. This isn't just a clean out of my sinus, before it was a large mass removed. They had no idea what that mass actually was, but it wasn't cancerous so they never tested further. This time I'll have to have it biopsied again, obviously, so who knows. I'm sure it's not, I'm sure I'm just a freak that grows random things in her body for no good reason.
But that's not all, because it never is. It gets better.
Olivia? My dear Olivia is eight and needs braces. Which we knew. Except I had assumed, foolishly, it'd have to wait until all her permanent teeth came in. Which is true. Except they did an x-ray and lordy lordy, her permanent teeth? Well no wonder no more baby teeth haven't come out. The permanent teeth are so crowded they are going sideways, not down. So her dentist gave us a referral slip for the pediatric orthodontist to see what he advises: do we wait and chance it, or remove four or five baby teeth now, wait for the adult teeth to come in and then do braces right away? Either way, I'm looking at around $700-950 per tooth.
I'll let you do the math.
I'll also need that up front, but don't worry- the consultation is free.
And I can't not do it. I don't want her to have teeth problems as she gets older and I don't want her teeth to get crooked. So somehow, some way, I'll make that happen if they think that's best.
I told Matt to tell his boss to either get dental insurance for employees or build him an on-site apartment because he'll never be able to leave. We'll see what he chooses.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I have lots to catch you up on, and that will have to come tomorrow. Tonight I have a book review for you and I have to sort out college stuff. Because yes, updates on that.
The Free - Willy Vlautin
Award-winning author Willy Vlautin demonstrates his extraordinary talent for confronting issues facing modern America, illuminated through the lives of three memorable characters who are looking for a way out of their financial, familial, and existential crises, in his heartbreaking and hopeful fourth novel
Leroy Kervin is a 31 year old Iraqi War veteran living with a traumatic brain injury. Unable to dress or feed himself, or cope with his emotions, he has spent the last seven years in a group home. There he spends his days watching old sci-fi movies until he awakens one night with a clear mind and memories of his girlfriend. Realizing what his life has been he decides it would be better to die than to go on living this way. A failed suicide attempt leaves Leroy hospitalized where he retreats further into his mind in order to make sense of his existence.
Freddie McCall is a middle aged father working two jobs. He's lost his wife and kids, and is close to losing his house. He's buried in debt, unable to pay the medical bills from his daughter's childhood illness. As Freddie's situation becomes more desperate he undertakes a risky endeavor he hopes will solve his problems but could possibly end in disaster. Just as Freddie is about to lose it all, he is faced with the possibility of getting his kids back.
Pauline Hawkins takes care of everyone else around her. She cares for her mentally ill father out of a deep sense of obligation. As a nurse at the local hospital, she treats her patients and their families with a familiar warmth and tenderness. When Pauline becomes attached to a young runaway, she learns the difficult lesson that you can't help someone who doesn't help themselves.
The lives of these three characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Willy Vlautin covers themes ranging from health care to the economic downturn and housing crisis, to the toll war takes on veterans and their families. The Free is an extraordinary portrait of contemporary America and a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.
Let me start by saying I am SUCH a fan of Willy Vlautin. His books aren't ones I would have picked up in a bookstore on my own, but instead I was actually mailed The Motel Life and Northline a few years ago. And it wasn't for review, it was a thank you for reading and reviewing another book not related to him, and someone from the publisher sent me this box of books and these two were in it. Well I read them, LOVED them, and have always kept my eye out for Willy Vlautin since then.
So it's like fate that this one came around for review, so I jumped on it.
The thing about Willy's books is that they don't fit the mold. Normally with books I can tell you what happens in sequence and it's a story, there's a start, a climax, and an end. Willy's book aren't necessarily like that. I feel like they are more like diaries of American life- it's the every day story of people with real struggles and there isn't always a conclusion. It's a snap shot of what life is like for them.
Which is exactly how this book is. It is a snap shot of the lives of three characters that intersect and each character has a totally different struggle in life. You have the woman who takes care of everyone, it's just ingrained in her to help everyone. She tries to help a runaway who ultimately doesn't want help and it's a difficult situation for the woman. We have a military veteran that is disabled and hurting who decides to screw it all and end his life. Except it doesn't work and he's having to figure life out anyways. Then we have the single dad who is financially strapped and on the brink of losing it all. Each one of these scenarios are things you could go to any city in America and find someone who fits this bill. They struggle with the economy, the health care system, the mental health system, every stack is against them.
Yet they keep going.
Willy's books essentially read like American documentaries and are just so great. This one is no different. I read this book learning more about different plights and seeing a different perspective on things and I just feel like no matter how bad things are in my life, I'm not in any of these categories. Each character is so wonderfully developed that you feel like you know them. The entire book is based around the questions- what is freedom and are we ever really free?
I cannot highly recommend this book and his other books enough. If you are looking for seemingly perfect story development, really great writing, and a story that just hits it all the way home, this is it. Your search this year is over, you've found it, and you're welcome. So, so good.