Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Favorites

I say this every month. Heck, I say this just about every day, time is going by so fast. I can't believe October is here and it's time to get ready for the holiday season.

We lost all of our Fall/Autumn/Harvest/Halloween decorations in the flood so we have to shop for new stuff this year. This is the second time I've had to replace these decorations. The first time, movers lost our box. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. 

September was rather uneventful if I stop and think about it. Lots of job searching going on for both myself and the Mister. His official last day as an active duty Marine is today, September 30th. We're still figuring out health insurance, retirement pay, VA benefits, etc. Making this transition is daunting to say the least. Anyway...

Books and TV

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is by far, my favorite read for September. I remember when this graphic novel was first published and EVERYone was talking about it. I read the synopsis out of curiosity and didn't like the sound of it at all. It sounded all political and dull. This year, I decided to read it for Banned Books Week and because I'm trying to find graphic novels that I like. I love this. Persepolis is a story that is going to stay with me a really long time. 

It's about an Iranian girl and her family and how they experienced, lived, and survived the Islamic Revolutions. It's a first person memoir told from Marjane's perspective from the ages of six to fourteen. As an American, I see the news reports on the Middle East and the places that we are bombing and the terrorists that we're fighting against and it makes it very easy to forget that normal people and families have to live this life. Marjane tells her story without any "woe is me" despite the hardships and losses she and her family experienced. Can you imagine being a teenager in the early 80's and being assaulted for wearing a jean jacket with a Michael Jackson button on it? If that had been happening here in America at the same time, just about every teenager would have been accosted on the street. Marjane brings these realities to life in her memoir and makes her experiences relatable to all her readers. 

I also remember thumbing through this novel ten years ago and not being very impressed with the artwork. You have to read the story to appreciate the artwork that goes along with it. I can be a real numskull sometimes. The artwork, in its black and white simplicity, is poignant and portrays the emotions of the characters and the starkness of living in a city under attack without taking your focus away from the words. 

As for TV, basically, I got caught up on The Big Bang Theory and watched its season premier and watched the season premier of The Goldbergs. Frankly, TV holds very little interest for me these days unless I'm watching old sitcom reruns on Netflix. Since we've been back in our house, we've probably watched less than 24 hours of new TV. Not counting sports and news. I really wonder why we continue to pay for cable.
undefined - Face - L'Oreal Paris

Health and Beauty

smooth operator™ micronized clay finishing powder with PM20™
After many years of looking, I have found a liquid foundation that I can actually stand to wear! It's L'Oreal's Magic Nude Liquid Powder Bare Skin Perfecting Makeup SPF 18. It's a medium coverage foundation that applies very easily with a brush and feels so lightweight. It comes out of the bottle as a liquid and dries to a powdery finish. I LURRRVE it! I also love, love, love my Tarte Smooth Operator Finishing Powder, which I apply on top of my foundation and the combo leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. There are other liquid to powder foundations out there that I plan on trying just to see if they're any better than a drug store brand, but I'm pretty happy with this one.

The Internets

Another booktuber I'd like to tell you all about is Sanne from booksandquills. Sanne is fantastic. It really helps that I don't think I have completely disagreed with any of her book reviews that I've watched so far. Also, she can be so funny. She's originally from the Netherlands and occasionally, she'll do a video on Dutch "speakwords" and I find them very entertaining. Sanne is living the life that I want, in London working at a book publishing company, so I hate her just a little bit. Don't let that stop you from checking out her channel.

Food and Drink

I have to tell you all about another wine that the Mister and I discovered at the Vine. It's the Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon. Omg people! This is such a great wine. "Lifted aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry and vanilla are accompanied by vibrant, dark berry fruits on the palate. The finish is long with fine-grained tannins from sixteen months maturation in a combination of new and older French oak hogsheads. Although drinking well now this wine may be cellared for up to ten years from vintage." I love the blueberry notes in this wine. Yum. This is such a good wine, that the Vine can't keep it in stock. I have no idea where you can buy this wine. Sorry. A "specialist" at www.wine.com says this wine is similar and this wine too but I haven't tried either so I can't say one way or the other.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Review of MateVana Herbal Tea

This post is a little different for my blog. I don't think I've ever reviewed a tea before and this is more or less a reference for me so that I can remember my first impressions of this tea. My memory isn't what it used to be, lol. I've probably reviewed a tea and just can't remember and I'm too lazy to look.

I had a tea haul from Teavana delivered yesterday. This is probably one of the most missed stores that I miss from San Diego. There are some things that you should buy in person rather than over the internet and loose leaf teas are definitely something that you should buy in person. I really hate Teavana's high-pressure sales techniques, but seeing and smelling loose leaf tea in person is a great experience. When you live in the boonies, what are ya gonna do?

I loved the sound of the description of this tea from Teavana's website:

It’s not coffee, is it tea? Taste this coffee-like maté and red rooibos blend. Sweetened with cocoa and chocolate chips, this mochaccino inspired blend infuses smooth, dark rich sips that are soft and robust. 
Roasted infusion with rich chocolaty overtones
A palmful of MateVana Tea. You can see the marigold and chocolate chunks clearly.

This Mate tea has a bit of caffeine in it and I love a tea that I can drink in place of a morning cup of coffee because some days, I'm just not in a coffee mood but can use an energy boost. This is a very aromatic tea with strong chocolate overtones and nutty undertones. It has a strong tea flavor with chocolaty/nutty flavors. I think it also has a bit of a light anise taste to it as well. Something that bothers me about this tea is that I can swear that I'm tasting an artificial sweetener but it isn't listed in the ingredients. I would almost put money on this tea having an artificial sweetener in it.The ingredients do list sugar and "artificial flavors" soooo... Despite the troubling sweetener taste, I have enjoyed this tea this morning. While the chocolate comes through very strongly, I would not compare this tea to a mochaccino. It's just not what I think of when drinking this tea. It's very tea-y versus having a coffee flavor. It's also something that I would rather drink on a cold morning and/or evening rather than a hot and humid morning like we had today at my house. 

Very dark brew. It looks like coffee but tastes like tea.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Esther Ehrlich: Nest

Disclaimer:  I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher for my honest review. Everything written below is my honest opinion and of my own free will.

Title:  Nest

Author:  Esther Ehrlich

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Pages:  336

Genre:  Middle school fiction

Setting:  Cape Cod in 1972

Where did you get it? This is an ARC from Netgalley.

Why did you read it? If I remember correctly, I was invited to read this book. That being said, I read it because I liked the sound of the book from the blurb. I also thought the cover was pretty.

From the publisher:  For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
   Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
   Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.

What did you think? I loved this book. I had reservations about reading a book intended for such a young audience, but Esther Ehrlich doesn't "write down" to her readers. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of Nest. This books was full of "feels" and normally, I'm not into that. While Chirp and her family deals with illness, which is a serious subject, you aren't left with a heavy feeling after reading Nest. Quite the opposite. 

I absolutely fell in love with all of the characters in this book, even the sometimes annoying psychiatrist dad. This family is so real because they are a family in the very real sense of the word but they aren't perfect either. Ehrlich's writing is so spot on that you identify with their angst, but it's their perfection that makes you completely feel their losses. 

For a debut novel, well, you can't even tell this is a debut novel. It's really amazing and I am so a fan of Esther Ehrlich. I can't wait to see what she publishes in the future. I am also totally buying a copy of this book when it comes out so that my kids can read it. 

You can read the intro to Nest by clicking on the author's name above and visiting her website. Click on the book cover to head on over to B&N to preorder.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Faux Autumn Day

You know when you wake up to a day that is completely gloomy? It's all dark and gray and the clouds look heavy and ominous.Without checking the weather or stepping outside, you just know that it must be chilly outside and so you lay in bed just a couple minutes longer anticipating a cozy day filled with tea, warm socks, and a good book.

This is just the morning that I had. Oh! But wait! It was gloomy and dark and drizzly outside however this is FLORIDA and it's still almost 90 degrees outside. What does dark, gloomy, drizzle mean in Florida? Not only is it hot, but the drizzle adds to the humidity. ::sigh::

I didn't indulge in fuzzy socks, jeans, and a sweatshirt (not wanting to die of heat exhaustion) but I did haul out my tea. Oh tea! How I missed you! First, I made a tumbler of a peach blended tea. After guzzling that down, I made a tumbler of seven berry sangria rooibos and blackberry mojito green tea blend. I'm also drinking my tea out of my favorite teacup. Do you enjoy teas?

I'm also indulging in my book and books in general today. I'm currently reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I had a really hard time getting into this one but I'm finding it interesting now that I'm smack dab in the middle of it. It's definitely different from what I normally read. As for as "books in general" goes, I got myself organized to do a Goodreads challenge called The Seasonal Reading Challenge. I know that I'm not good at these things, but this is so different with so many varied tasks that you can pick and choose from, that I want to give it a try. Plus, the challenge runs for the entirety of the Fall season, Sept 1 - Nov 30 so I'll have a lot of time to play. You all should give it a look see if you need something to do with your time.

Friday, August 29, 2014

August Favorites

This month went by so fast. I have to say, I'm glad that it's over and we're moving into September and the Fall. I officially hate tourists. They freaking clog everything:  the roads, stores and shops, restaurants, and the beaches. Go home! And stay there. It's also been really hot in August in Florida. We had heat advisories for several days. If you have heat advisories in the summer, in Florida, you know it's hellishly hot. Anyway, I'm going to highlight some of the things that I have enjoyed in August.

Books and TV

My favorite book that I read this month was Landline by Rainbow Rowell. This book is about Georgie and her husband Neal. Georgie has a job writing and creating TV shows. She and her long-time writing partner finally get a break with an opportunity to present four episodes of their "baby" to a producer. The only problem is that while they have been nurturing the idea for this show for years, they still need to write the scripts for those four episodes. It's Christmas and Georgie decides she can't pass up this opportunity and opts to stay behind in California and work while Neal and her daughters fly to Omaha to spend the holiday with family.
This separation makes Georgie fear for her marriage which had already been in trouble for some time. To help stave off this fear and loneliness, Georgie spends some time at her mother's house. Here, she tries and tries to connect with Neal via cell phone but her calls either keep getting sent to voicemail or her daughters and/or mother-in-law keeps answering. Out of desperation, Georgie plugs in an old yellow telephone and tries reaching her husband landline to landline. It turns out that this phone is connection to the past and she reaches Neal back during the time before their engagement.

It's through these conversations with the past that Georgie has revelations about herself, Neal, and their marriage. Is true love enough to hold a marriage together?

My favorite TV show that I watched this month would have to be Outlander on Starz. This is an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's series of books. At the time of this writing, I have only watched the first three episodes. I am really loving this series so far. Director Rob Moore has done a fantastic job of translating book to screen. Considering that these books take place in both the 18th and 20th centuries, I think that it's a testament to his skill how fantastic this show is. He pays great attention to detail down to ensuring that the herbs Claire, our female protagonist, uses for 18th century medicine are correct, both in use and as they are seen on screen. I've only noticed a few deviations in the show from the book, but I wanted to love this show so much, that I'm willing to give Moore a little leeway. So yeah, my opinion is biased, lol.

I've been a huge fan of the Outlander series for years. I don't think I've ever read a book with science fictional elements in it that are as well-written as they are in Gabaldon's books. By that, I mean that she incorporates time travel into her novels so that it's not silly or fantastical, but explained in such a way that the reader is able to believe that touching these standing stones would send them hurtling through the past.

Back to the show, I love the costumes, the sets, the language, basically everything about it. I have, at this point, no complaints. I'm thrilled that it's already been renewed for a second season.

Health and Beauty

I've made quite a few beauty purchases this month, but picking only one, Tarte's Lights, Camera, Splashes 4-in-1 Waterproof Mascara is the standout. I've tried several new waterproof mascaras this summer to try and combat makeup meltage from the heat, humidity, beach, and sweating. This mascara is fantastic. I love the classic bristle brush that grabs my lashes and coats them evenly, without clumping. It leaves my lashes softer than other waterproof mascaras do. I have to say, I'm not a fan of crunchy lashes. The staying power is phenomenal. It stays put until I go after it with an eye makeup remover. It retails for $20.00 at Ulta and is worth every penny. What's more, the packaging is totally cute.

The Internets

I discovered a new Booktuber this month that is so adorable. Her name is Jean and her channel is Jean Bookishthoughts. Jean is Scottish ya'll. I could listen to her read a recipe for hours and be happy. Fortunately, her booktube channel is more interesting than that. Jean really knows her books. No offense to booktubers out there, but the ones that seem to be more into performing than reviewing/talking about books are annoying. At least to me. I'm sure some people find them vastly entertaining. Jean is knowledgeable about books and her reviews are entertaining without being over-the-top silly. Plus, she's Scottish. I love the way she says "baby", lol.

My favorite Facebook page of the month is Coffee and a Good Book. It's rare to find a group of strangers online who are civil, respectful, fun, share the same interests, and actually interact positively. This group is all those things. Maybe it's because the moderators are so strict, but I have yet to see any bickering, judging, or drama in this group. I've gotten tons of book recommendations though. Great Facebook group.

Food and Drink

My favorite food that I can't seem to get enough of this month is Ben & Jerry's Half Baked. It has both cookie dough and brownie chunks in chocolate and vanilla ice cream. I may like this flavor even better than Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch, my favorite until I tried Half Baked.

The Mister and I have been frequenting a local wine bar called VINE Wine Bar & Shop. It's a laid back wine bar with a really nice selection of wines, small plates, and wine merchandise. We really like it. We've been going so much this month that they know us by name now, lol. ::cough:: Anyway, I discovered a great bottle of wine there called Thorny Rose and it's a Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a very unassuming wine. I love how it's fruit forward with cherries, blackberries, and strawberries coming through. It's an inexpensive wine too but I have no idea where you can pick it up. I've never seen it in a store and I absolutely love the label, so there's a good chance I'd remember. Ordering online is my only suggestion.We've also tried their red blend. It was okay and probably my favorite red blend, but I'm not a huge fan of blends. They have several other varieties that I'd love to try out some time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kat Spears: Sway


Title:  Sway

Author:  Kat Spears

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press (set to release on Sept 16, 2014)

Pages:  320

Genre:  Young adult/fiction

Setting:  Modern day American suburbs

Where did you get it? This is an ARC from Netgalley.

Why did you read it? I chose to apply for this book because I loved the description of a "modern day Cyrano de Bergerac. Recently, I've felt compelled to pick up young adult novels. I have been enjoying the simplicity and straightforwardness that is more prevalent in young adult fiction.

From the publisher:  In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—-term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.
But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?
A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—-until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.
What did you think? First of all, I want to make clear that while the publisher has marketed this novel to 14-17 year olds, I, as a parent of teens, would be incredibly uncomfortable with my 15 year old (and even my 18 year old if I'm completely honest with myself) reading this book. The profanity, drug use, and the casual references to teen sex combined with the language used to describe sex are, in my opinion, too prolific. If this book were made into a movie without any changes, it'd be rated R. Okay then...
On the whole, I enjoyed this book. Spears' writing makes it so that I can hear Jesse's voice clear as day. He is hilarious, damaged, and has had to grow up too soon. He is definitely, out of all the characters in this book, the most memorable. I think that every 17 year old who reads this would wish that Jesse were their friend. 
Is Jesse the modern day Cyrano? Maybe but I think Jesse's motives were a little more selfish and definitely more dark. I think what really makes this book interesting and unique is that the reader roots for Jesse to get the girl but not, necessarily, for the girl to get the guy. 
For a debut novel, Kat Spears has a well-written and edited book that's unique and fun to read. Still, my "reader discretion" message above keeps me from saying that I would highly recommend this book. To whom? I'd recommend it to my friends before my daughters or their friends. 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sharon Gosling: The Diamond Thief

Title:  The Diamond Thief

Author:  Sharon Gosling

Publisher:  Capstone Pr Inc. Set to be released Oct 1, 2014.

Pages:  335 (This was a digital ARC so the final, printed copy might have a different page length.)

Genre:  Young adult/steampunk

Setting:  Victorian London, England

Where did you get it:  This was an ARC from Netgalley

Why did you read it:  First of all, I love the cover. It appealed to me while I was searching for titles on Netgalley. Then I had to read it so that I could submit feedback on Netgalley's website. 

From the publisher:  The Diamond Thief is set in Victorian England and follows the exploits of sixteen-year-old circus performer and jewel thief, Remy Brunel. Brought to London from France to steal a famous diamond on behalf of her evil circus master, Remy finds herself pitted against determined young detective, Thaddeus Rec. Together they are drawn into a dastardly plot that will take them into the heart of the city's criminal world…

What did you think? Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I liked all of the main characters:  16 year old Remy Brunel who is an orphan, trapeze artist, and skilled thief. Thaddeus Rec, a policeman for Scotland Yard who is out to turn Remy in. J, loveable scamp and Dickens-esque orphan. I loved the steampunk elements, as I always do, and the suspenseful edge as Remy's adventure progresses through the story. However, I thought parts of the book were rushed and/or underdeveloped. I didn't feel like I completely understood the villain's motivation nor was Remy's background fully explained. Remy's being a circus trapeze artist was emphasized by the author, yet it played a minor role in the book. Additionally, the reader is not fully introduced to Thaddeus or J. 

The romance between 16 year old Remy and 20-something Thaddeus (I'm guessing here. The author doesn't give us Thaddeus' age and I just assumed he was in his 20s since he was interested in a 16 year old girl yet he was already working at Scotland Yard.) bugged me a bit. I know this is Victorian England and people married much younger than they do in the present day, but still. Aside from that, I oftentimes had a hard time remembering Remy was only 16. Again, I am aware of the setting, but it felt like Gosling made Remy 16 solely so that she could call this a young adult novel. 

So, maybe it sounds like I didn't like this book, but I really did. It was a fun book and for being young adult and steampunk, it was unique and by no means a cookie cutter YA novel. It's impossible not to like Remy, Thaddeus, and J and you root for them to make it out alive and overcome evil. I think this would be a great book for a middle school child. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Janet Evanovich: Top Secret Twenty-One

Title:  Top Secret Twenty-One

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group

Pages:  352

Genre:  Fiction, mystery and crime

Setting:  Trenton, New Jersey

Where did you get it? I pre-ordered a signed copy from Barnes and Noble.

Why did you read it? I really enjoy this series. It's lighthearted, easy, fast-paced, and hilarious.

From the publisher:  Stephanie Plum is back in an all-new adventure from #1 bestselling author Janet Evanovich. This time Stephanie’s in deep. To get to the bottom of the mess, she’s going to have to keep things Top Secret. (This is a really sad blurb. It tells you nothing about the story.)

What did you think? In this installation of the Stephanie Plum series, Carlos Manoso, a.k.a. Ranger, has become the target of the bad guys. Seeing as how he is supposed to be the competent businessman (who used to be a bounty hunter and trained Stephanie, in case you didn't know) the fact that he's having a tough time handling this and needs Stephanie's help is quite the turn of events.

This book was funny, but not quite as funny as some previous books. I also thought the Stephanie/Grandma/Mom interaction was a bit limited and I find those to be pretty hilarious. I don't know if I'm just getting tired of this series, but I'm finding Lula's antics to be more annoying than funny and that's where Evanovich gets most of her comic relief. As for Stephanie's bounty hunting, it's always good for a laugh and she was even somewhat helpful to Ranger.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book and I'm not sorry that I got the signed pre-order. Still, it's definitely not up there with my favorite Stephanie Plum novels. This would make a perfect hammock on the beach kind of read, a definite 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lynn Cullen: Mrs. Poe


Title:  Mrs. Poe

Author:  Lynn Cullen

Publisher:  Gallery Books

Pages:  352

Genre:  Fiction. Maybe even historical fiction and/or gothic fiction

Setting:  19th century New York

Where did you get it?  I bought myself a hard copy at Barnes & Noble. 

Why did you read it? The title caught my eye and I love historical period books. I'm also a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and thought that this book would be an entertaining and informative read.

From the publisher:  The triumphant success of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” compels fledgling poet Frances Osgood to meet her literary idol, a mysterious, complicated man who soon has her under his seductive spell in an all-consuming affair. And when Edgar’s frail young wife breaks into their idyll to befriend her rival, Frances fears that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .

What did you think? Just like I thought when I saw the intriguing cover, this novel was entertaining and informative. I've seen pictures of Poe and never thought of him as being a ladies man, lol. That he could be caught up in a dark and dangerous love triangle was surprising. I had also never heard of Frances Osgood, who happens to be a real figure in Poe's life, so I also learned something while reading this novel. It's funny, but before reading this novel, I thought I knew who Poe was. It turns out that I have some knowledge of his works but really, I don't know very much about the man himself. It's interesting that his work was actually well-received while he was alive and he was well-known. Also, interestingly, the term "Lisztomania" is more than just a song title (Lisztomania by Phoenix). It was derived from the behavior of ladies whenever they saw the musician Franz Liszt perform. They pretty much went crazy over him. I didn't even know such a thing as being star struck and celeb-crazy existed in the 19th century.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Cullen's novel. I thought her use of historical style of writing was brilliant and it really helps to bring the reader into the realm of 19th century New York City and Poe's world. I also thought the romance between Poe and Osgood was very Jane Austin-ish in that they, and other romantic characters of that time, seemed to fall in love from sight rather than from actually knowing each other. I've always thought that style of romance writing came off as false (in the case of Austin's novels) but used here, it just lends to the feel of reading a book that written in the 19th century rather than the present. Additionally, I was left guessing who the sinister threat actually was until the reveal towards the end of the novel.

All in all, a great read and different from what I normally choose to read, which was nice. I'd give this a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars only because the romance between Osgood and Poe was a tiny bit annoying, lol. ::shrug:: I really want to read the rest of Cullen's works.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rainbow Rowell: Eleanor and Park

Title:  Eleanor & Park

Author:  Rainbow Rowell

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press

Pages:  336

Genre:  Young adult, Teen Fiction

Setting:  Omaha, Nebraska in 1986

Where did you get it? I downloaded a copy to my Nook app from Barnes & Noble.

Why did you read it? I had seen some chat about it from the bookish accounts I follow in Instagram.

From the publisher: 
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

What did you think? I loved this book. I downloaded it and sat down and read it in one sitting. I actually barked at my kids when they tried to talk to me when I was reading it. I called my sister and made her download and read it too. She loved it, just in case you were wondering.

This is my first novel by Rainbow Rowell. Her writing is...I can't think of a word that doesn't sound cliche. Unique, lyrical, mesmerizing. She draws you into the story and makes it impossible to put the book down. I think that she conveys what it's like to be a teenager with spot on grace and skill. She also creates characters that are relatable, likeable, and real. I've read books where I've loved the story and atmosphere that the author creates and while I didn't hate the characters, I didn't really care about them either. I've also read books where I've loved the characters but hated where the author prattled on about the scenery or about minor characters or sub plots. With Eleanor & Park I enjoyed all the characters, even the ones I loved to hate, and she also took me back to the 80s and the music, style, and even the feel of an 80s house and neighborhood.

I'd recommend this book to any age 14+ despite it being a "young adult" novel. While it does have some questionable language, that shouldn't stop you from reading it or letting your teen read it. I can't believe that this book has actually been banned by some high schools. What a loss for them. If I had a rating system (should I develop a rating system?) I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get to Know Nilla Bean


Nilla Bean right after we got her. Approx 9 mos old
This jewel is Nilla Bean. Her friends and family call her Bean. Bean is another rescue from Feline Friends of Destin. I really need to unfollow/unfriend these people before I truly become The Crazy Cat Lady. We got her around March 1st of this year. She's about a year old and is a lynx point Siamese cat.

A Little About Bean

Sweet Sisters
Bean is, by far, the most affectionate cat I have ever been around. She jumps in your arms for hugs, lays in your lap for naps, puts her paws around your neck and kneads your shoulders/neck while rubbing her face on yours, and happily drools her affection all over the place. She's also the most vocal and mischievous cat I've ever seen. She claws open cabinets and drawers to steal food. She pops open the lid to Bailey's food and goes dog food diving. When you give her a treat, you have to do so with speed and agility or she'll bite your fingers. I mean, she's drawn blood multiple times. At dinner time, she meows at the top of her lungs for her food. I totally understand where the term "CATerwaul" came from now. But, she's playful and likes to chase the other cats and be chased by them. She's truly a unique cat.

In a Nutshell

Showing her attitude
Bean's hobbies are frog hunting and catching, giving neck and shoulder massages, scavenging for unhealthy food, and hiding her evilness behind her utter sweetness. Her favorite toy is her pink striped mouse that came with her from the shelter. You can find her on Instagram at Kitten & Winnie & Bean. Yes, the cats have their own Instagram account and no, I don't manage it.

Cuddling with me

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Get to Know Winnie


Say hello to Winnie. We're not entirely sure how old Winnie is. She was a rescue cat from a local cat rescue, Feline Friends of Destin. We adopted her in October 2013. They estimated she was about six months old so she's approximately 1 year 3 months old. She's a tuxedo cat.

A Little About Winnie

Winnie is super shy but one of the most affectionate cats I've ever known. She loves her family and her feline brother and sister, but is terrified of strangers and only tolerates Bailey's presence. When I was picking out a cat at the rescue, I had first said I was interested in a white and gray cat because he looked super playful. I went into the room with all the free-roaming cats to observe them playing. Winnie jumped on the bench next to me and proceeded to lick my hand. That was it. I was in love and she came home with us.

Out of all of our pets, Winnie is the most energetic and playful. She is always ready for a game of Chase the Feather Toy or Attack the Catnip Toy or Chase with her cat siblings. Winnie is also the most darling of all our cats. She has such sweet and gentle ways about her. She also loves curling up against your side when sleeping at night and cozying up in your lap while loafing on the sofa. She also has a powerful purr which is in evidence quite often.


Winnie was a TNR cat. This means Trap, Neuter, Return. This is a practice that's done to feral cat colonies. Volunteers trap feral cats, have them neutered, vaccinated, and sometimes microchipped, and then returned to their original location. This allows ferals to live out their lives while curbing their need to spray and their ability to add to the problem feral cat population. TNR is something that I support and I actually volunteer for a nonprofit that promotes and raises awareness of TNR. 

In a Nutshell

Chilling with her Brother

Winnie's hobbies are hiding, cat games, licking fingers, and killing her feather toy. Her best friend is the Oldest Child, and she hates having her belly rubbed. You can find her on Instagram at Kitten & Winnie & Bean. Yes, the cats have their own Instagram account and no, I don't manage it.

Stalking from the camouflage of the Oldest Child's pig sty room.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Get to Know Leo


This is Leo. He will be three years old in September and is a tabby. We've often wondered if he has some Maine coon in him somewhere because of how thick his fur is but who knows.

Leo came to us from a woman that the Mister used to work with. She got him from someone else who found him in a parking lot. Or something to that effect. We saved him from going to a shelter. As a kitten, he was quite energetic and rambunctious. He acted more like a puppy than a kitten. That's why we figured he went through so many temporary homes before finding his furrever home with us.

Leo at approx 3 mos old

A Little About Leo

We got Leo when he was approximately three months old. Kittens can sometimes be hard to determine their sex, so we were told he was a girl, which had been verified by a vet. Turns out, not so much. As a result, his name went from Sophie, to Kit-ten, to Leo. I settled on Leo because I always tell him that he's "my lion". He ruffles up his neck fur like a lion's mane sometimes.

I love how distinctive his stripes are. He's beautiful.
Out of all of our cats, Leo is the most cat-like. He loves attention and sitting on your lap for pets and scratches, but only on his terms. If you scratch him "wrong" or try to hug him too tight, he'll give you his backside and leave. He's pretty lazy too. Out of our three cats, he's the least playful. Considering what a terror he was as a kitten, this is a complete evolution in his behavior. He also talks back. The other day, he stole my chair while I was grabbing a drink from the fridge. While I was explaining how this is bad cat behavior, he looked me in the eye, meowed with attitude, then stretched out and made himself more comfortable. I love his cattitude.

In a Nutshell

His hobbies are cat napping, exploring boxes, frog hunting, and window sitting. His favorite color is green (Yes. He has a favorite color.). His best friend is Bailey the dog and he's a mommy's boy. You can find him on Instagram at Kitten & Winnie & Bean. Yes, the cats have their own Instagram account and no, I don't manage it.

Leo and Bailey Napping Together

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Being a Diseased Leper

Have you ever had a total "why me" moment?

Some of my earliest memories consist of having rashes on my legs. I used to get them in wide patches on my inner thighs, inner knees, and the backs of my knees. They were called "heat" rashes for a long time until eczema became known. Eventually, those rashes went away (and by eventually, I mean it took about ten years) but then I started getting what I called "nerve" rashes on my fingertips and knuckles of all things. As an adult, I still get rashes and my doctor now calls them "stress-induced eczema". If you're not getting the picture here, I've been plagued with freaking rashes nearly my entire life. I had one on my knee for about five years before I was prescribed with a cream that actually worked. Now I have rashes on the outside of each of my ankles that two different prescription creams haven't been able to cure. They look lovely on the beach with my flip flops. Please, hear the sarcasm here.

And now, I have a skin condition that reminds me very much of the time when I had chicken pox as a kid but without the fever and it lasts longer. It began about four weeks ago with this weird patch that I got on my abdomen. It coincidentally coincided with a juice cleanse that I tortured myself with (and one that I'll never be trying again). The side effects of this cleanse included "skin eruptions". I had no idea what that meant, but I figured they meant zits and pimples. When I got this patch, I was like, geez! Talk about a skin eruption. It's about the size of a quarter and actually looks like a healing burn mark. Then about two weeks after that, I started getting red bumps on my abdomen. Some itched, some didn't, but I'm so used to having some skin condition or another, I didn't really think too much about it. Then, a few spots turned into many and I wondered if we had picked up bedbugs on our romantic evening away. I did some Googling and didn't see any signs in or around my bed that would indicate bed bugs, but my spots were multiplying overnight. Finally, I broke down and called the hospital on Hurlburt Field to make an appointment. They couldn't get me in for over a week, but something was better than nothing. 

This past Saturday, the amount of spots was becoming alarming and the itching was driving me nuts. So, I put on my big girl panties and went to the urgent care here in town. The doctor took one look at me and told me that I have Pityriasis Rosea. He said I was a textbook case. That patch I had gotten several weeks before? It's called a "herald" patch and basically announces that you have this condition. Go figure. I still have to keep my appointment at the base because the doctor told me that this could also be latent syphilis, lmao. If I had syphilis to the point where I was getting skin lesions, I'd be a goner, lol. I'm not worried. But my blood pressure was also high, no big surprise there. He gave me a nice prescription for antihistamines which kind of works and it's also a mild anti-anxiety which I have seen no evidence of so far. This is such a low-dose prescription, that I have NO side effects of drowsiness and the itching is barely under control. 

I look like a freaking diseased leper and I'm generally feeling very sorry for myself. Why am I constantly plagued with some sort of itchy skin condition? Why did this have to happen right when the weather is warming up? Luckily, I only have a few spots on my lower arms (so far) so I can wear t-shirts and no spots on legs yet (knock on wood) so I can wear shorts and capris. But my wardrobe is limited to a couple t-shirts out of my own closet and a few t-shirts out of the Mister's closet. Other than that, I can't wear any other tops that show any of my chest whatsoever. In the meantime, my spots are still increasing noticeably on a daily basis. When I saw them in the mirror yesterday, I bawled for about an hour. There are two positives about this: 1) It isn't contagious and 2) It doesn't generally spread to the face or neck. I have to be careful of scratching so that I don't give myself an infection on top of this condition but the itching is unbelievable. Goody for me, I get to keep myself distracted with the mountains of homework that I have. 

Sorry. Sarcasm, mild hysteria, anxiety, general nastiness, and self-pity have become my norm of late. It's also nice that what is hopefully the peak of this condition is coinciding with PMS. You really should count yourself lucky you're reading this long distance. OH!! And I found out yesterday that Tricare is refusing to pay for my visit to the urgent care. I haven't been to see any doctor for over a year and the one time that I force myself to go, Tricare won't pay for it. Nice.