Saturday, August 24, 2013

August Challenge, Day 24: Learn About Something New

I actually looked this up today because it's been bothering me for a couple weeks now. You know when you get eyelid twitches? Those little muscle spasms that are just plain annoying? Well, the following are possible causes:

  1. Tiredness
  2. Stress
  3. Too much caffeine or alcohol
  4. Eye strain
  5. Dry eye
  6. Nutritional imbalance 
  7. Allergies
I'm figuring the cause of my continued annoyance is stress which has led to insomnia and thus, tiredness. I haven't had any changes in my diet. It could possibly be eye strain and dry eye but I've never had eye spasms coincide with those before. Lastly, my allergies have been much better since we moved so I don't think that's it either.

Treatment (via

  1. Get more sleep
  2. Drink less caffeine
  3. Lubricate your eyes with eye drops
Helpful, right? Get more sleep, hehehehe.


Yesterday's challenge prompt, "spend $5 or less" was impossible. Did you see my favorite shopping sites? I went to Ulta today and spent an embarassing amount of money. I don't think anything was under $5. Anywhooooo.....

If you'd like to jump in and participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August Challenge, Day 22: My Favorite Online Shopping Sites

I think shopping online can be just as fun as shopping in person. I also think that I tend to spend more shopping online than I do in person because I don't feel the pressure and anxiety in my home that I do in the stores. Still, there are just some things that you can't or shouldn't shop for online. Shoes by a brand you've never worn before, for instance. You can never be sure of shoe sizes. You also shouldn't shop for makeup online unless you are willing to be adventurous when it comes to colors. I recently bought some lip gloss that looked like it was a coral color online but when it arrived, it was gold. Gold, gold. Luckily, though, it was sheer enough that I can wear it over lipstick or blend it with another gloss for shimmer. You gotsta be flexible when shopping online. You should always check the return/exchange policy of a retailer before shopping online.

And seriously. Is there anything better than getting packages in the mail?

These are my favorite online shopping websites, in no particular order:

  1. Ulta. I love Ulta. I spend waaaay too much money at Ulta. I love the ease of earning points there too. I almost always have points that are ready to be redeemed.
  2. Barnes and Noble. Duh. Do I own all the books ever printed? Umm, no. B&N is probably my top, #1 favorite place to shop. I luuurrrve my books. I'm a member there also and it's probably the longest membership I've ever had anywhere, store or otherwise.
  3. Nordstrom. They have such good deals in their online sale section. I shop at Nordstrom online every Christmas.
  4. I'm not sure if this one counts, but I love iTunes. I don't even have an iPhone anymore, but I remain loyal to iTunes. They just have a better selection of apps, music, and TV and movies than the Google Play Store does, IMO. I am, in fact, shopping for music there right now. 
  5. Smashbox.  Another favorite makeup website. I earn points there too. And they always have some great deal going on. I may need a makeup intervention.
I can't think of anymore places that I shop online at right now. And I know there are more. I get my credit card number stolen from online shopping more than anyone that I know. It doesn't stop me though. How dumb am I?

If you'd like to jump in and participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August Challenge, Day 21: My 21st Year

The prompt says to share pictures and stories from the year we were 21. All of my photos are still in boxes and I'm not entirely sure where those boxes are right now, so no photos. Sorry.

The year I turned 21, we were, ironically enough, living here in Florida. I don't think we did all that much to actually celebrate my birthday. We were all kinds of broke during that time in our lives. We had a two year old, the Mister's rank was still mostly nothing, and on my 21st birthday, I found out I was expecting our Youngest child. We were also all kinds of young and ignorant. But you know what? That was one of the best years that I can remember. The time that we spent in Florida was full of friends and parties and the beach and making good memories even without money. 

That was also the year that I experienced my first hurricane. It was only a category one and I don't remember its name. Cat 1 hurricanes are just intense rain storms. No biggie. There were also several tropical depressions and storms that summer but I only remember them as rain.

In September, I moved back to Ohio with the Oldest child because the Mister had moved from Pensacola to Jacksonville on orders and we couldn't go with him. It was decided that I didn't need to be alone and pregnant in Florida.

In February, the Youngest child was born. The highlight of my 21st year.

In April, at the very first minute that the Youngest child was allowed to fly, the girls and I moved out to San Diego, where the Mister was now stationed, to live. Thus began our almost five year stint in California.

My 21st year was pretty full all in all. Lots of relocating, lots of excitement. It's certainly a year that I'll never forget.

If you'd like to jump in and participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August Challenge, Day 20: Three Smells That Bring Back Memories

I realize that I fell off the wagon several days back. I've had some personal stuff going on. Oh wells. I thought about going back and playing catch up but decided not to because it would just be a post dump that I don't think would be all that interesting to read. I'm going with today's prompt and you all can just pretend that you read the previously missed days. So there.

Lakeside, CA 2003
 One smell that brings back memories is the smell of wood smoke. For a while, every time I smelled smoke, I'd run to the window and check the sky for signs of a brush fire. This was due to living through the 2003 California wildfires. When we moved back to California, I was pretty paranoid about fires for probably the first year or so. Then we bought a fire pit for our backyard and started re-associating that smell with good memories of s'mores, wine, and good times instead of bad. Even today, when I smell smoke, my first reaction is to check the skies but I don't immediately panic anymore. Plus, we've gotten so much rain this summer that it'd be pretty impossible for NW Florida to have out of control wild fires. We're much more likely to drown.

Another smell is the corn silk. It was so funny...On our drive from CA to FL, we saw corn fields in either Arizona or New Mexico. I don't remember which. But, it was so out of place. It was entirely weird to see so much corn in the desert. Then, the Mister and I sort of looked at each other and then cracked the windows just to see. And yep, we could smell the corn silk on the freeway. A smell that we both associate with growing up in Ohio. It was kinda neat to smell that familiar smell so far away and in such an alien-type of place. The smell of corn silk and soy beans will always remind me of hot summers in Ohio.

The smell of a ham or turkey roasting will forever remind me of the holidays, no matter what time of year I smell it. I'd say about 90% of my holiday memories are good ones so roasting turkeys and hams are a gooooooood smell. I suppose you could add in the smell of pine from a fresh cut Christmas tree too. And pumpkin pie spices. Man! I'm looking forward to the holidays this year, lol.

If you'd like to jump in and participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

August Challenge, Day 12: Ghost Story

 Yes, I believe in ghosts. Not yours, mind you, but the experiences with the unexplained that I've had personally. I may believe in ghosts, but I still only believe in the things that I've seen, heard, or felt myself. I believe I've told all my ghost stories in previous posts. We haven't had any unexplained encounters since living in California the first time. I've always considered this ironic because the house we had in CA was only about 20 years old at the time whereas we lived in a 200 year old house in Vermont that had a basement so scary that we all refused to go down in it. I mean, dirt floors and 200 year old slate foundation people.

Anyway, my favorite ghost story to tell is the one with the broken bowl. Up to this point, we had experienced some weird stuff in our townhouse but it was pretty basic like lights turning on and off on their own. This story happened at about 2 am. The Mister and I were sound asleep as were both of the girls who were just tots at the time. We were suddenly woken up by this loud bang and then as we were laying there trying to figure out what the hell, we hear water trickling. I hit the Mister and tell him to get up and turn on the light. There was no way I was leaving the safety of my covers.

He hits the light and we can see that a floating candle bowl we had sitting on our dresser was broken. The trickling water noise was the water from the bowl draining off the dresser and onto the floor. This bowl was made of thick glass and it was fairly new. There was no reason that it should have just spontaneously broken into two clean pieces in the middle of the night. And it was two clean pieces of broken bowl with no shards.  Then there was the loud bang of it being broken, like it had been hit or dropped onto the dresser.

This incident, added in with all the other unexplained stuff that occurred during the four+ years we lived in this house, is why I believe in ghosts.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August Challenge, Day 11: Earliest Memory

My earliest memories occur at a time when I'd probably have been better off being too young to remember stuff. I'll fast forward to the second grade when I was seven.

My teacher, Miss Richards, was one of the most popular teachers at Indian Mound Elementary School. Our school had two teachers in each grade so you had a 50/50 chance of getting the teacher that you really wanted each year. Lucky me, I got Miss Richards and was thrilled. I'm not sure what it was about her that I liked more than the other second grade teacher. Maybe it was because she was young and pretty. Today, I barely remember what she looked like, lol. Anyway, she had a deer antler in her classroom. Us students use to vie over the privilege of using this antler to scratch Miss Richards' back. I laugh at this now, but this is one of my most clear memories of all elementary school. One student used to stand behind her and scratch her back with this antler while she would sit and read a story to the class. How weird is that? Nowadays, I bet she wouldn't have been allowed to get away with that.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August Challenge, Day 10: Opening (Five) Lines from Five Favorite Books

This post should be titled, "Opening five lines from five favorite books on my iPad". My books are still in boxes so I'll be taking these lines from books that are on my iPad.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. "Then there was bad weather. It would come in one day when the fall was over. We would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves from the trees in the Place Contrescarpe. The leaves lay sodden in the rain and the wind drove the rain against the big green autobus at the terminal and the Cafe des Amateurs was crowded and the windows misted over from the heat and smoke inside. It was a sad, evilly run cafe where the drunkards of the quarter crowded together and I kept away from it because of the smell of dirty bodies and the sour smell of the drunkenness."

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson. "Call me Ishmael. I won't answer to it, because it's not my name, but it's much more agreeable than most of the things I've been called. "Call me 'that-weird-chick-who-says-"fuck"-a-lot'" is probably more accurate, but "Ishmael" seems classier, and it makes a way more respectable beginning than the sentence I'd originally written, which was about how I'd just run into my gynecologist at Starbucks and she totally looked right past me like she didn't even  know me. And so I stood there wondering whether that's something she does on purpose to make her clients feel less uncomfortable, or whether she just genuinely didn't recognize me without my vagina. Either way, it's very disconcerting when people who've been inside your vagina don't acknowledge your existence."

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. "The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable. To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford's Bodleian Libray, ancient and worn. But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it. Duke Humfrey's Reading Room was deserted on this late-September afternoon, and requests for library materials were filled quickly now that the summer crush of visiting scholars was over and the madness of the fall term had not yet begun. Even so, I was surprised when Sean stopped me at the call desk."

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  "When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping."

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. "It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird's was like a thousand other Highland bed-and-breakfast establishments in 1945; clean and quiet, with fading floral wallpaper, gleaming floors, and a coin-operated hot-water geyser in the lavatory. Mrs. Baird herself was squat and easygoing, and made no objection to Frank lining her tiny rose-sprigged parlor with the dozens of books and papers with which he always traveled.
     I met Mrs. Baird in the front hall on my way out. She stopped me with a pudgy hand on my arm and patted at my hair."

There you have it. I tried to pick a variety of fun-ish-type books. Yeah. I consider Hemingway to be fun. Geez. Oh. And sorry for the f-bomb but it wasn't necessarily out of my mouth since I was quoting from Jenny Lawson's book.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Friday, August 09, 2013

August Challenge, Day 9: A Regret

What's the saying about you haven't lived if you don't have regrets? Or something to that effect. I can't really think of anything that I would consider to be a huge regret but rather I have lots of small regrets.

  • I regret not getting out more while we lived in San Diego. Both times. We passed up a lot of hiking opportunities, great restaurants, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah. 
  • There are so many times in my life where I kept quiet where I wish that I hadn't. 
  • I regret not taking more video and pictures of my kids when they were little. I have lots of pictures but hardly any video and no matter how many pictures I have, they still aren't enough. Kids grow up so darned fast.
This is depressing. I'm done.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

August Challenge, Day 8: A Guilty Pleasure

I actually have a couple different guilty pleasures. I think everyone should have at least two guilt pleasures. It makes life fun and it's something that you can keep a mystery or be completely, flamboyantly, unashamed about.

I'll start off with reading. I like to read what can only be termed as "trashy" novels. Think, Laurell K. Hamilton and Kresley Cole. Why not? They're fun, entertaining stories and a great way to lose yourself and leave reality behind for a little while. That's what all guilty pleasures should do, be an escape in some way or another. I also like to lose myself in steamy romances. When I pick these types of books up, I'm not looking for historical accuracy, existentialism, or deep-thinking philosophical tomes. Fun times, end of story.

Next, I have a love of science fiction/fantasy/paranormal. Not just in books either. TV, movies, games, and even comics, which I guess is considered literature too. Again, it's about transporting yourself to another world and considering alternate possibilities. Did you know, when zombies gain popularity in a society it coincides with a general dislike and distrust of their society's current state, politics, etc.? I would say that's about right.

Lastly, cosmetics. I've always liked makeup and nail polish since I was a little girl. As an adult, I don't leave the house without my face on, or as the Mister calls it, my war paint. When I'm depressed or even if I'm sick, going through the ritual of putting on my makeup and taking the time to look human makes me feel better. That being said, recently, I've become obsessed with Ulta, Urban Decay, Smash Box, Essie, Butter, Stila, Laura Geller, OMG!! I'm getting excited just thinking about it. My makeup collection has gotten to the point where I've had to come up with new ways of storing and organizing it. I've also had to make myself stick to a monthly makeup allowance or my spending gets out of control. If you've ever wondered what to get me for a present, a gift card to Ulta would make me swoon.

What are your guilty pleasures? Don't be shy!!

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

August Challenge, Day 7: Five Songs That Bring Back Memories

OMG!! This is a hard one, picking just five. I love music and always associate many memories with different songs and artists.

Wowsa. He's kinda good looking, right?

Almost anything in the country genre will always remind me of my husband because I didn't listen to country music before we met. Specifically though, Dierks Bentley for reasons I'd rather not go into. But Dierks' music brings back memories of when the Mister was deployed to Afghanistan. You might think that it would make me sad or depressed to hear his music and think of that time, but it was actually comforting.

They Say Vision by Res will always remind me of the time we lived in San Diego the first go around. I used to blast that song on my car radio with the windows down and the AC on full while cruising Lakeside. I love the upbeat rhythms. This song always puts me in a good mood.

I love this album cover.

 Don't Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult reminds me of Ohio. When the Mister was in boot camp, I used to make the hour and a half drive between my dad's house and my mom's house quite a bit. Or maybe this was while he was in MOS school. Anyway, that song seemed to always get played on the classic rock stations during the drive and any time that I hear it, that's what I think about.

Aberdeen is off of Cage's sophomore album.

Aberdeen by Cage the Elephant. This song will always bring back memories of driving my kids to school the last time we lived in San Diego. Alphabetically, it's the first song on my iPod. When I plug it in and play it through my stereo, it's always the song that comes up until I hit "random" and "next". I got really sick to death of the opening notes of that song, lol.

Anything Imagine Dragons, Muse, Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, M83, Atlas Genius, and lots of other alternative played on XM's Alt Nation channel the past couple months will always remind me of this last time in San Diego. We hardly ever listen to anything else when we're in the Mister's car. Mine doesn't have XM, lol. But he doesn't have a harness for his iPod like I do in mine so it all works out, heheheh.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.  

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

August Challenge, Day 6: A Favorite Quote and Why It's Special

I've never been much for inspirational quotes. I like quotes that are funny and sarcastic. That's just my nature. I've always like Oscar Wilde's, "Friends may come and go but enemies accumulate." How true, right? And look as his picture? Doesn't he just look like the kind of guy that would say that? What an arrogant ass. He's one of my favorite authors though. He also has quite a few quotes that I find funny and appropriate.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

August Challenge, Day 5: Something You Wish You Did Really Well

In no particular order...

This may seem weird. Why would anyone aspire to clean? But I wish I was one of those people that keep their house clean 24/7/365. If I lived alone, my house would be clean. I get sick to death of cleaning up after people all the time. Yeah. I wish I were a better cleaner.

I wish I could play a musical instrument. Any intrument really, but I lean more towards the piano. I love music and have always wished that I could play an instrument and hear the kind of music I wanted to hear, played the way I wanted it played, whenever I was in the mood. 

I wish that I was a better writer. More, I wish I was a talented writer.

It's good to have aspirations I guess. ;)

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts. 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

August Challenge, Day 4: An Embarrassing Moment

 I should probably come up with an original moment and not one I've already blogged about, right? I mean, I could just re-blog about all the times I've fallen on my ass. In public. Those were my last three embarrassing moments. Really, they were humiliating. Oh ok. How's this?

A while back, we went out to dinner at some sort of sit-down-type place. I don't remember where it was. Anyway, the Youngest child lets out a belch that was so loud that the surrounding tables looked over at the Mister thinking it was him. It was embarrassing but at the same time, we were all cracking up laughing. We're such a dignified family.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

August Challenge, Day 3: A Treasured Memory

 When my girls were younger, they always played very well together. They were each other's best friend. They were always together, into some trouble or another. Now that they're teenagers, a two and a half year age difference is a much bigger gap than it was when they were toddlers. They still hang out sometimes but they have pretty different interests.

A couple months ago, I happened to look up from my book and I saw them laying together in the loveseat. They were head to head with their feet hanging over the sides of the sofa and were both playing some game together on their iPads. It really struck me how very few of those kinds of moments I have left before graduation and college, etc., come along. Seeing them like that was poignant and a very treasured memory.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.

Friday, August 02, 2013

August Challenge, Day 2: Five Things About Me Most People Don't Know

I've done memes with this question so many times that it's a challenge, in and of itself, coming up with new things. I'm not that mysterious.

  1. I want a tabby point Siamese cat.
  2. You know that question that James Lipton always asks celebrities on his show, "What career other than your own would you like to pursue?" My answer would be forensic anthropologist. That was my favorite elective during my undergrad. 
  3. I can burp just as good as any man. (My husband helped me come up with that one.)
  4. I use Scrivener to attempt writing and I actually have three different projects that I'm currently working on.
  5. I just joined Lip Factory Inc's monthly beauty box subscription service. I am sooooo excited about getting my first box this month. If you want to sign up, I'd appreciate the referral because I earn points for referrals. My referral #385105.
Boy, that was hard. Took me forever to come up with five things.

If you'd like to participate in this blogging challenge, please visit Natalie Grueninger's blog for prompts.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

August Challenge, Day 1: The Story of My Life

Two blog posts in one day. No, the world isn’t coming to an end. Had I seen this challenge before five minutes ago, I would’ve only posted for the prompt instead of my earlier book review. Oh wells. This is from author Natalie Grueninger. I’ve only recently heard of her and her blog. One of her focuses is the Tudors and she’s written a book about them. I happen to be an obsessed anglophile, in particular, the Tudor family so I was excited to discover Natalie’s blog.

Anyway, she has proposed a daily blogging challenge. Here are the prompts if you’re interested in joining in. Today’s prompt is “the story of your life in 250 words”. Here goes…

 I was born in Ohio in 1977. My parents divorced when I was three. I lived with both my mom and then my dad at different phases of my life while growing up. I have a brother who is six years my senior and a step-adopted sister who is four years my junior.

When I was 17, I met my future husband. We had been together for seven months before I turned up pregnant at 18. We got married after being together for over a year and just before our first daughter was born. He joined the Marines in 1997 and we had our second daughter in 1999. We’ve lived in Florida, California, Vermont, North Carolina, California (again) and we just moved to Florida. I loved California and North Carolina but hated living in Vermont. Too cold.

My husband and I both just got our undergrads and are now pursuing our graduate degrees. I’ve come to terms with being a student for the rest of my life, lol. While you might think being a perpetual student and a military wife would be challenging, being the parent of two teenaged girls has been the biggest challenge of my life. I’m also beginning to think that finding a job is going to be in the top five of my life challenges.

The story of my life:  When my house is clean, nobody comes over. When it's a mess, people drop by unexpectedly.

Sarah Dunant: Blood and Beauty: The Borgias

Sarah Dunant: Blood and Beauty: The Borgias

Title:  Blood and Beauty:  The Borgias

Author:  Sarah Dunant

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group

Pages:  528

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Setting:  Early Renaissance Italy

Where did you get it?  I downloaded a copy for my Nook app via Barnes and Noble.

Why did you read it?  I got an e-mail from B&N titled, "Fiction that Reads Like History". As historical fiction is one of my top favorite genres, I had to check it out. From the handful of novels featured in the e-mail, this title caught my eye. I've always wanted to learn more about the Borgias and, in fact, I have a biography about them that I haven't had the chance to pick up yet (and now it's lost in one of the many boxes of books that I can't unpack because I no longer have bookshelves on which to put them).  Anyway, my interest in the Borgias is why I chose this novel.

From the publisher:  By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family—in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia—in order to succeed.

Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest—though increasingly unstable—weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.

Stripping away the myths around the Borgias, Blood & Beauty is a majestic novel that breathes life into this astonishing family and celebrates the raw power of history itself: compelling, complex and relentless.

What did you think?  I don't know about you, but when it comes to history, I often have a hard time keeping names, places, and dates organized in my mind. This is mostly true when I'm reading a dry account of some event in a text book, like we did in history class in high school. It's when I watch a documentary or watching a television show like The Tudors, or when I read historical fiction that I am able to connect names, dates, and events in a meaningful way that allows my mind to remember and make sense of them. Keeping in mind that aside from documentaries, these other accounts are fictionalized, embellished, or altered in some way that provides more entertainment value to the work. Still, I feel like I learned quite a bit about the Borgias and especially the time in which they lived. Reading this novel also spiked my curiosity for this time, culture, and this family. I really want to read some non-fiction to see how accurate Dunant portrayed the Borgias. Going by her account, the Borgias have been vilified over time and aren't nearly as terrible as I had assumed they were or how they're portrayed in Hollywood.

Dunant's writing style annoyed the bejeezus out of me though. At first, I thought maybe that it was the way that the novel had been adapted to its e-version. Oftentimes, formatting is lost in translation. However, I read a news article that Dunant wrote for The Guardian about syphilis and how it ran rampant during the time in which she set her novel. The same things that annoyed me in the book were also present in this article. I've read many other books and novels by British authors that didn't annoy me so I don't think that's it either. But geez!! Her comma usage was terrible. There were other things, but there were times she didn't use a comma when she should have and it took me forever to figure out what the sentence was saying.

If I had a star rating system, I'd give this novel a solid 3+ stars. It's informative, the subject material was beyond interesting, and Dunant seems to be vastly knowledgeable about her subject matter. As my own knowledge of the Borgias is limited to this book and three episodes of The Borgias, I can't give a certain opinion on how accurate she truly is. But, it did drag at times and I really wish that she would have headed her chapters with dates. I had a hard time figuring out how much time had passed chapter to chapter, and it was especially confusing when she'd be retelling the same events in the next chapter, but from a different character's perspective. It also seemed like when the pace would pick up and I was really getting into the novel, she'd end the chapter and the momentum would have to begin again. I also really felt like I was left hanging in the end, almost like this was book one of a series.