Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Way Life Should Be

Man, I think I'm turning into a Christina Baker Kline junkie.

The Way Life Should Be - Christina Baker Kline
The Way Life Should Be
Angela Russo finds herself in Maine thanks to a sailing instructor, an impulse, and an idea that in Maine, people live "the way life should be." But reality on Mount Desert Island is not what she expected. Far from everything familiar, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up. Relying on the flair for Italian cooking she inherited from her grandmother, she begins to discover the pleasures and secrets of her new small community—and to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.

I'm not even the reader who enjoys chick lit so much, but something about these books just hooks me in and I don't put it down until the end. And this one was no different. 

Angela leads a ho-hum life. She's got her job which she doesn't love, but isn't awful at. (Well, until the fire eater pulls out all of the stops to screw his cousin over and it's clear Angela forgot a really key step in party planning 101 and that goes all to hell.) She has her family that is alright, but she loves her dear Grandma who has taught her everything she knows about Italian cooking. Her love life sucks, so she decides to try online dating and voila- really hot, seemingly charming guy is available, but all the way up in Maine. 

Once it's clear her life in New York City has gone all to hell, she decides to take a sabbatical and go to Maine. Which doesn't pan out like she planned, not that she really had anything planned at all. Slowly making new friends, learning new skills, and gaining independence, she discovers that maybe life isn't the way she planned, but it's exactly the way it should be. 

Loved it. I loved the fire, I loved how much her love life sucks and how she falls for really lame pick up tactics, I love her new friends, and I love the new life she's forged and if we're honest- I'm jealous she has the balls to just get up and go like that. We always say we would but when it comes down to it, we don't. But I loved it. I love the author's writing style, it's very easy and light but you feel what she's trying to convey and that I love. 

Check out Christina's website HERE to see all of her books. If you are a fan of chick lit at all, you are going to enjoy this book in particular, but basically all of her books. Truly. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Night Visitor

I know it feels like I have been missing in action, but I can assure you that life is not boring. Lots of things are happening over here and I promise you, next week you are probably going to see so many posts form me you'll beg me to shut up.

Until then, book review!

The Night Visitor - Dianne Emley
The Night Visitor
Gorgeous and successful, Rory Langtry seemed to have it all. Daughter of a movie star and sister of a supermodel, Rory was engaged to sexy artist, Junior Lara. But her bright future went dark one terrible, bloody night that left her sister dead and the accused murderer—Junior—in an extended coma.
Now, five years later, Rory appears to have put the past behind her. She has a wonderful new fiancé and heads a successful cosmetics company. Yet dark secrets threaten. Across town, Junior lies close to death but before he departs he seeks to clear his name.
It starts with a feeling. It turns into a vision. Soon Rory is having sensations that only Junior could experience—from the horrifying to the erotic. Then she learns details about the awful night that only Junior could know, newfound knowledge with potentially fatal consequences. When another act of violence rocks her family, Rory plunges deeper into the unsolved mystery, led by an inexplicable visitor to a dangerous time and place where all will be revealed at last. But until then, Junior will not let her go.

I'll be straight up honest, this feels like the first book by the author where the writing style isn't quite figured out and it doesn't feel like any kind of fine tuning to smooth anything out has happened. But here's what this ended up being: a pretty decent murder mystery. It's not going to be up there with the big names who do that genre well, but if you are looking for something that is a relatively fast read that doesn't require you to keep all the pieces of the puzzle together in your head? This has you covered. 

We have Rory and Junior, who were totally in love. Unfortunately, Rory's twin sister Anya is murdered in Junior's apartment and Junior is almost killed. I say almost killed because while he isn't totally functioning, he is in a vegetative state in a hospital. It's been a few years and on the anniversary of the tragedy, Junior's brother decides to avenge his brother, totally convinced Rory is really the cold blooded killer. That doesn't work out, but it does set into motion a whole series of events, including Rory in the hospital and a really weird paranormal thing where Junior can speak and/or manipulate people. It's very strange. 

But it does get more interesting, especially when you figure out who the actual killer was. Did NOT see that one coming at all. So I appreciate the twist at the end for that because for me, that pretty much made this book. I do enjoy a good twist at the end. I'd give this a solid 3/5 stars. 

Dianne Emley has a website, Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Shall Be Near To You

I'm not even a fan of historical romance but I had to read this book and good lord I am so glad that I did.

I Shall Be Near To You - Erin Lindsay McCabe
I Shall Be Near to You
An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier's letters home
   Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
   Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

You guys, this book made me cry. I cried so hard. I knew right away how this thing was going to end and it just doesn't even matter because I wanted to know, and I wanted to be wrong. I wasn't, and I cried even harder when I realized what was happening. The last few chapters are just sadness, short and to the point. 

The book is set during the Civil War, and starts off with Jeremiah enlisting. His goal is to marry Rosetta, enlist, and come back with enough money for them to start their farm in Nebraska, which has always been their end goal, their dream. Rosetta, rightfully so, is very upset that he has chosen to enlist. He didn't even ask her, he just went and did it and she feels a sense of doom as the date nears that he leaves. He's confident he'll come back because as he says, he has something to come back to. Rosetta isn't so sure because she sees the list of the dead go up at the local church and she knows more boys and men are not coming back. 

One day Jeremiah ups and leaves. Rosetta senses something isn't quite right and she notices that he has put some real thought into this and has left her a series of notes and letters and she is just heartbroken. Jeremiah knows that a drawn out goodbye would have been too much for her so he thought this was the best way to do it. Except, after a scary encounter one afternoon, Rosetta decides the only place in the world for her is next to Jeremiah, at all costs. So she chops her hair and does a hasty job at transforming herself into a boy and she quickly enlists as well. 

She finds Jeremiah, who is understandably upset she has done this, but equally pleased to see her because they really are soul mates. Nobody else in the world would work for either person, and it's seriously a really heart warming love story. Then we get into the war, we have casualty, close calls, romance, and you can see their bond strengthen. 

And then we have the game charger almost to the end and I almost died. I knew it was coming, I knew it wasn't going to have a happy ending but by god, nothing in this world prepares you for it. I had to stop reading, totally go grab my Kleenex, and I had to take a breather so I could finish it. And man, what a sweet ending anyways? But what was fascinating to me was that I had no idea that women had enlisted like this in the Civil War and that this wasn't uncommon. And honestly, if you want to read a book where you feel like you are right there, in the war and with Jeremiah and Rosetta? This is it. Just, hands down, one of the best historical romance books I have ever read.  

Erin has a website you can check out and you can add the book to Goodreads HERE

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The College Dropout

I mean, the title kind of says it all, right? I won't lie, yesterday, I listened to this song on repeat because it seemed appropriate.

But here's the thing- as of yesterday at noon, I was officially a college dropout. And... it feels weird? I feel like maybe I should add that to my resume, maybe it says I'm unconventional and too cool for school, literally. It certainly wasn't a decision made lightly. I really was on the fence my entire first week. I had gotten ahead on assignments in every class, took a few quizzes already, and it was, so far going alright? But here are the things that played a part:

  • Major life change happening soon. I have an entire blog post coming about this soon so just hold tight. Like two more weeks so I can get information and pictures ready for you. Sorry. But know I'm just as anxious as you. 
  • I honestly think I'm too old. I say that because I'm reading the discussion boards and while I wasn't the oldest, I felt like I was maybe one of the more mature ones? These people were hardcore, all about school. I'm all over here thinking, "I just want to pass, none of this interests me at all." 
  • I literally cared zero about any of the classes. I couldn't get into readings and I felt like I was totally wasting my time, and the instructors, knowing I'll gain zero from any of this. 
  • I'm kind of like the old dog who couldn't learn new tricks in a way. I think maybe being 32 years old and having seen life, I've formed opinions and I maybe know too much. I can't look at things objectively anymore like I could when I was 22 even. I can't make the argument for the other side to plays devil's advocate because I just don't care enough. 
  • One week of being locked away and not seeing or hanging out with my kids was kind of brutal. That's always awesome when you've sent them away, or you're on vacation and you know in a few days you'll see them anyways. But this was like, years of being like this. 
  • I really did the math on tuition and books and what it would cost us financially and honestly? Not worth it. I have dreams of RV'ing sooner rather than later and honestly, I can be just as happy working at McDonald's as I could using a degree that really isn't going to pay for itself anyways. Having been in a situation with a crushing amount of debt over our heads to now which isn't so bad, I can't go back. I really can't. 
So with all that, I've chucked deuces at college life. I thought I'd feel really sad and bummed out and I'm surprised I don't. I feel relieved, I feel kind of like a choice was made for me and in this case I'm alright with that. I think my life is going to work out just fine even if I don't have an awesome degree. Yes, I wish I had continued on after my Associates degree to get my Bachelors, but I didn't and it's fine. Really, it is. I think Matt's relieved, but doesn't want to come out and say it. Which is OK too. 

But don't think I have all of this free time on my hands, either. I have lots happening in the next few weeks and months so you'll not see me all lazy and stuff. Nope. Stay tuned. 

Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)

This is it folks, the end. The end of the Cassie Scot Paranormal Detective series.

Stolen Dreams - Christine Amsden
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)
Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood's grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie's father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

It hasn't been that long since I had finished book three, so I came into book four with stuff fresh in my mind. That's always helpful because if I've learned nothing else, it's that these books are jammed packed with information, plot twists, and just so much happening in general. 

Here are some things I want to note about this book: 

  • I feel like the series ended, which is what it needed to do. I almost feel like this could have been condensed into three books and taken out a lot of fluff in books 2-4. 
  • This book was a bit slower for me, just like the third. I kept feeling like there were things that were in here that just didn't need to be. They don't add to the greater story and they keep you waiting for the action, which doesn't really pick up until mid way through. 
  • Cassie and Evan, I have felt the entire time they are meant to be and I was kind of disappointed that their story line in this book feels flat. It just doesn't have the sweeping emotion it should have, given how much they've been through together. 
  • YES- Cassie finally accepts who she is, who she is not, what her abilities are, what they are not, and there is so much closer on on that, with her family, and really with Evan's family. We learn more about the back story there and it really clears up a lot of things, at least for me, that we read in earlier books. 
  • Tons of spoilers can be given because there are some key people, primarily around Cassie, who have been basically making her life a living hell for quite awhile. I'm not going to spoil it because really there were a couple of, "You cannot be serious!!" moments, and those are really key to enjoying this book. 
Overall? A solid 4 star from me. I mean, yes it was slow to get going, but I think the ending and all of the huge secondary character surprises really made up for it and kept me going until the end. If you want to get started on this series, go to the author website to learn more. You can also go to the Goodreads page for this book HERE and add it to your list. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dear Car Dealerships.

So a few weeks ago, my Escape had to go into the dealer to get some stupid recall fixed on it. Which is a whole other rant because honestly, this is recall 6 or 7? Ridiculous. But I still love my car. I do.


They were going to have my car for almost three days so I requested a loaner. Now, I'm just going to say that as a dealership whose primary goal is to sell new vehicles, it would be a REALLY good idea to give really nice loaner cars. Like, ones that would more times than not be nicer than the car people rode in with. That way people leave there in their car thinking what a piece of shit it is and maybe they should upgrade to something new.

But no.

No, they don't do that.

Instead, Matt picked up the nicest loaner on the lot which happened to be a 2011 Ford Focus. Which, let me tell you, is the worst car I have maybe even driven? And that says a lot because my first car ever was a 1988 Ford Taurus and that thing was called a tank for a reason.

This Focus? Smelled. It smelled like dirty animal. Not only did it smell like dirty animal, but there was enough animal hair on everything to make a cat. I'm not even kidding.

Maybe the highlight was the fact that it came with zero gas. I digress, it came with some, but when you started it the second time, the gas light came on. It said you had 30 miles to empty but then a half block later it says you have 6 miles to empty. So I put $6.00 in gas in and was really pissed off.

And this is not a very good picture, but there was a weird white crust over all of the controls. The entire dashboard, to be exact. 

And the carpet? The carpet looked like it had been chewed all around the edges. Maybe from the animal that left it's fur all up in here. 

But the smell. It was so bad that I had driven in it to run errands, came home, and Matt was like, "God- do you smell that? What is that smell?" It was ME, you guys. The smell had gotten into my clothes and hair and it was foul. Like immediate shower and I considered burning my clothes. It was gross. 

So dealerships, when you loan out cars, don't loan out hoopty vehicles. All that says to me is to never buy a car from this dealership again. You don't value your customers enough to have a decent loaner, and you don't take car of used cars on your lot and could care less about word of mouth. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Let's Catch Up (and a carpet/floor update!)

So, lots of things aside from work and school have been happening. Let's catch you up:

First up, I'm throwing my brother and sister in law a baby shower at the end of this month. I have been ass deep in craft projects to make this an adorable, and memorable, shower. Here's a hint on one project. I'll upload full shower pictures after the party. 

My friend Andrea is adorably sweet. She bought me a variety of school supplies, which I'm already using and loving. I didn't realize I'd actually need any and she has me covered and help me not stress out. Love her. 

Oh yes, and I made a diaper cake. It is GORGEOUS. I seriously... if I had more patience and wouldn't have to deal with demanding people who are dumb, I'd go into party planning. 

Remember when we ripped up the dining room carpet on a whim?  Yes well I decided the very next day that the living room carpet had to go as well. Like right then, there was no waiting. So Matt and I started this project at 7 p.m. after he had already worked 14 hours that day. 

You can imagine he wasn't pleased or eager. But dammit if he isn't a trooper. 

Turns out? This carpet didn't smell nearly as bad though it was stained just as much. Seriously. I will never be able to full explain how gross that carpet was unless you had seen it up close and personal. 

But ta-da! The floor in here is in good shape too! There were three patches done, only one done correctly, so eventually we'll have to fix that. And sand/refinish the floors. But right now that looks like a next summer type thing because I don't have it in me to do that while I'm in school and our life is crazy. 

I had taken Olivia school clothes shopping with my friend and her daughter. This was the note she left me. It was kind of great. 

Jackson has taken to waking me up with his "scientist laser beams", which is really annoying but equally adorable. 

And then I convinced Matt I had to buy the full rainbow AND a glitter planner or I would be failing college and wasting $4900 in tuition. He seems like he doesn't believe me, 

I obviously bought them anyways.