Monday, December 20, 2010

Stay With Me

Hey lambies- it's time for another book review. And this is a book that I think a lot of you will like so you should read this. :)

Stay With Me- Sandra Rodriguez Barron
Stay with Me: A Novel

Thirty years ago, five toddlers were found alone in a luxury boat tied up to a dock in Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane. No one knew who they were or where they came from. Now adults, raised by different families but connected by a special bond, David, Taina, Holly, Adrian and Raymond have always considered themselves siblings, even if their blood relations were unknown. When David is diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, the five brothers and sisters meet at Griswold Island off the coast of Connecticut at the family home of David's ex-girlfriend, Julia, a woman whose own deeply rooted family tree is a direct opposite to the siblings' hidden beginnings. However, while David's siblings think the trip is just a chance to spend quality time with Davide and help him get his mind off the disease, David has an ulterior motive for planning a vacation: The brain tumor has triggered flashbacks to the time before the hurricane and prompted a strong desire in David to find out the truth of their origins. He's determined to find out if they are siblings in blood as well as heart and the circumstances behind what happened to them those many years ago. The gathering is the first time they are all able to share and document the wisps of fading memory, all of it conflicting, all of it charged with emotional attachments to whatever truth they have each come to embrace.

OK. So if THAT doesn't make you want to read this book.. I don't know what will. Frequent readers of my blog will know that my big thing is that I'm absolutely convinced I will die of a brain tumor and recently I blogged about that. And the news I got about my dad came *literally* the day after I finished this book. I find it kind of bizarre that a lot of the books I'm reading all of a sudden take a turn for the personal afterwards. So because of that, I connected with this book.

The story of five seemingly abandoned children is sad and as a mother it pulls at you. I enjoyed learning about each sibling and how the experience of early childhood traumas such as abandonment really pave your future as an adult. It proves that every person handles stress and trauma differently and these characters were no different. I felt sad for David, suffering from brain cancer, because you see how horrible that is. Especially towards the end it scared the crap out of me.

The only part of the book that I thought was awkward was the really detailed descriptions of Griswold Island, the story could have been just as great without it. I kind of feel that overly detailed parts should be left out- if it doesn't really add to the story.

I do like how this book covered the emotions a person would feel if they didn't know about their birth parents and facing the option of finding out. I can imagine that is a hard reality for some to face, especially if you were abandoned. I really loved how Sandra was able to tie the book together at the end. Sure, David is dying and you know what is going to happen but I think she made his story close appropriately. Do you know how you read some books and feel like it wasn't really meant to end yet? I didn't feel that way with this one. I felt like it ended right when it should have. And I really enjoyed it.

But don't take just my opinion. You can go HERE to read the thoughts from other reviewers and you can visit Sandra's website HERE.

If you would like to have MY copy.... leave a comment on this post saying you want it, with your email address, and I will randomly draw a winner on Tuesday, December 21, 6pm.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

So I wasn't a complete lazy ass...

Well I don't know about you... but my weekend was pretty damn productive. I really needed to buckle down and get a bunch of stuff off of my to-do list because it was threatening to go to two pages and I can't function like that.

I'm participating in an Ornament Swap this year and because I'm all about even numbers, I signed up to swap two. And MY swap partners are UBBER lucky because they got a fun ornament I bought, one I made AND a set of cards. Lucky whores. I had one package done and ready to go, but the other package just needed a set of cards. So I made these. And wished I had kept them for myself.

 Then I got the thank you picture Olivia made for my Grandma into an envelope (only a week late), my two ornament swap packages and two gifts for out of town friends all ready to go. Now I just have to get it all to the post office. And I have three out of town packages yet to make. Eventually.
 But then yesterday I got my Christmas cards about half way done. I had to just stop because doing huge orders bores me. Oh- and I got a TON of cards done for my personal stash.... which I use as freebies when people buy stuff out of my Etsy shop. Speaking of my Etsy shop, go there NOW so you can see what else is new.

I wish I knew how to get video off of my cell phone and put it on here for you. Yesterday I was teaching Jackson to say all kinds of things, but probably the cutest was him saying "Go Broncos"... which I did for my friend Matt. Matt thought it was cute and it really was.

But even cuter was Jackson today- insisting on wearing a princess dress. At first Olivia said he could and he pitched a damn fit. So I found him this one and he was thrilled. He wore that thing almost all day. You'll notice his bracelet- which is a piece to some toy but he's telling me it's a bracelet.
But I haven't done much today. Yesterday was my real productive day. But I did get some baking done and just finished muffins for breakfast tomorrow. I'm eating peanut butter cookies for dinner and wearing the pajamas I never got out of today. Whatever.

This week is going to be hectic. I work every day except for Friday, so I'm hoping my paycheck is good. I have to go down to the vet and explain to them they need to stop calling me every day about the bill. Our bill was $1200 and some change and we're down to just under $700. Lay the fuck off- I can't pay you any faster than I already am you fucking scam artist whores. *sigh* It's just really annoying because I gave them everything extra I have. My checking currently has a little over $10 in it, my savings is around $40 and I'm eating peanut butter cookies for dinner. Matt's currently eating a hot dog bun. Quite frankly- I'm not sure where else the money can come from. He doesn't get paid until Tuesday and that is already spent.

I also got my tax escrow check in the mail which I want to spend SO EFFING BAD but I know my property tax bill is coming. It almost always comes the week of Christmas which just kills the spirit faster than your tree going up in flames. The check is for $1900 and I hope to GOD we don't owe more money for property tax. So I have that all set aside so we can just pay the bill (hopefully all) as soon as it comes.

And Matt's Grandma is pretty much going to pass away any day. She's in Northfield, MN which means that very soon we're going to be making a funeral trip. Which is easily $80 in gas, plus at least one meal, and not to mention- we both need funeral clothes. Neither one of us have anything even close to being appropriate for a funeral so we need to get some.

You know things are bad when you're too broke to even play the lottery. :/

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pink Wee and the Worst Slumber Party Ever.

So before I get into the worst slumber party EVER... I am showing you my creation for Wee Memories Pink Challenge. I had to do some birthday cards so here you go- it's practically throwing up pink.

Ok. So I was trying to catch up on blogs (seriously- I'm about ready to throw in the towel) but I always check a certain few. One of those would be my new girl crush *cough-obsession-cough* Helena. The other day she posted a hilarious tale of the what you shouldn't do at a sleepover and it reminded me of my worst sleepover experience. And because I love Helena enough to go lesbian.... I'll share it.

I was about 9 or 10. I didn't really have any friends but was forced into friendship with a girl named Lona. (pronounced Lawn-a). Lona was two years younger than me and at that age- it's kind of a big deal. Lona had a sister named Lexi who was turning 16 and Lexi had a friend named Jackie. Basically- these girls were ubber cool. Not just because they were way older than us but because Lexi and Jackie had half naked pictures of boys. And they talked about kissing boys.

Lexi was having her 16th birthday party and Lona was allowed to have a friend spend the night... enter me. Now, it was lame because Lona & Lexi didn't really live here, they were visiting their dad (who worked with my dad... which is how a forced friendship works). Their dad and step mom were really nice and I liked them. I loved the fact that their house was huge AND it had a bar. Lona and I would play bartender all the time.

Anyways- so after Lexi opened her presents (I distinctly remember us giving her the game Boggle) we all headed down to the "rec room" which is code for a basement with carpet and furniture. And a bar. We were all supposed to watch scary movies, which I suck at, and I had a plan to pretend to fall asleep.

At some point during the movie I mentioned that I was thirsty. The fact that Lexi and Jackie both jumped at the opportunity to get Lona and I something to drink should have been my first warning. After a few minutes.. they called us upstairs to the kitchen. They were holding a cup for each of us and told us they made us chocolate milk. I'm reluctant but when you have two cool girls telling you stop being a pussy.... you chug it.

And you try not to throw up.

Because the chocolate milk?

Was really a concoction of chocolate milk heavily seasoned with oyster seasoning, cayenne pepper and dill.

To this day I remember what that tasted like and even thinking about it makes me gag. Oh-- but that wasn't all.

At that point I realized I needed to stay away from them. Unfortunately, I'm a heavy sleeper. (Fun fact: I've slept through fire alarms.) While I was sleeping, Lexi and Jackie not only smeared Vaseline in my shoes AND underwear (that I wasn't wearing) but they smeared it all in my hair. And Lona's. Lona got it worse because they did every part of exposed skin. Thankfully- I was in my sleeping bag and they didn't unzip it.

When I woke up I was crying- I had no idea what to do. Lona's step mom Julie helped us get cleaned up but made it clear that we should have shut the bedroom door. We never told about the fun drink. I went home as soon as I got cleaned up and I never spent the night there again. In fact... I don't remember ever going to play there again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reading Rockstar

It just dawned on me that the show Reading Rainbow didn't really feature a lot of reading. Did it? I remember having to watch it in my English class in third grade but I don't remember them reading on there.

Anyways. Here's what I've read the last two weeks:

1. Summer at Tiffany- Marjorie Hart

Summer at Tiffany
This book was given to me awhile ago and it's been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. SHAMEFUL. It's a memoir written by Marjorie Hart, who at the time she wrote this, was in her 80's. It was given to me by a senior editor who wanted me to know that you seriously don't need to be of a certain age to write your first book.

Essentially, the book is about Marjorie and her friend Marty, who were students at the University of Iowa in 1945. That summer, they set out on an adventure and lived out what happened to be the best summer of their lives. They went to New York City and got a job at the famed Tiffany & Co. store and became the first female pages of the store. Pure luck got them the job but they didn't take it for granted. The story is really good and mixed in you learn about the war going on at the time and just interesting tidbits about the time in general. She writes about her sightings of celebrities, summer love with a soldier, and her making a tough decision at the end. Basically- it is a really fun read if you like memoirs.

No One You Know
Sometimes I have a really hard time getting into plain old fiction books that don't have the promise of hot sex in it. I don't know why- just the way it is. This one... was ok. It wasn't great but the mystery aspect was enough to keep me going. The book is about Ellie Enderlin who leads a direction-less life since her sister Lila was murdered. The murder was never solved but her family was torn apart by the betrayal of a book about the crime written by Ellie's friend. Eventually Ellie decides that in order to give herself a path she needs to correct the wrongs and figure out once and for all who really killed her sister. I will tell you that you DO find out who it is but it's a surprisingly sad twist, really. I got lost in some of the details that weren't really important at all, but for the most part the story kept me engaged.

3. Chill Factor- Sandra Brown

Chill Factor: A Novel
I feel like I've gotten onto the Sandra Brown train really late and that is terrible. This book was SO interesting that I read all 389 pages in two nights. The story is about Lilly Martin who comes to this po-dunk town to finalize her divorce to new police chief Dutch. Oh, and the po-dunk town has 5 missing women, presumably all dad. Enter Ben Tierney who is a suspicious character. It's a snowstorm, Dutch leaves, Lilly hits Tierney with her car and they become holed up in her cabin during an ice storm. Sounds cheesy, but go with it. The plot line of trying to figure out who's the killer is gripping. I thought I knew who it was but then changed my mind and ended up being right. All of the characters are shady and while there are a few different plot lines going on at once, Sandra Brown winds them together perfectly at the end. I totally recommend this book- and I'm going to get more of hers in the future.

4. Conversations with the Fat Girl- Liza Palmer

Conversations with the Fat Girl
I actually got this book from Amber during last month's Blogger Mail Swap. The thing about this book is that you might not really get it unless you are, or previously were, a fat girl. Basically, Maggie (the fat girl) is the maid of honor in Olivia's wedding (her best friend who was previously fat but then got skinny bitch via surgery) and while Maggie tries to plan a shower she loses enthusiasm for the wedding when she questions whether or not Olivia is still a good enough friend. She wants it to work out.. yet... Olivia makes it hard. And then Maggie has a crush on a really hot guy.. who seems interested. So she's batting her worth and dealing with Olivia. It sucks. There were funny parts, parts where you felt bad, and parts where you could sympathize with Maggie. I absolutely loved the ending... love and revenge. :)

OK- so I also started the Maggie Stiefvater Faerie books... Lament is first and Ballad is second. I'm like half way through Lament and I am IN LOVE with this book. If you like Shiver and Linger (her other two books) you will love this.

What are YOU reading??

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday was a FUN day

So despite the fact that my Sunday began on a shitty note about Lenny, I didn't want to go home. I had driven through a god damn snow storm for this blog meetup so it was going to happen even if it ended up being just me and Krysten. Thankfully... Anna and Amy joined us. And because they blog anonymously I won't link up. Anyways. They were so awesome, cute and nice. The four of us had a super fun time at the Mall of America.

Krysten and I had talked on Saturday how we both want to get red lipstick. We have tons of other shades but we've never gotten a good red. And every self respecting girl needs a red lip once in awhile. We ended up stopping in Sephora and we got this lady who was overly eager about makeup. Which I suppose is good...she's probably on commission. Anyways. She puts a different shade of red on each of us. The experience of having someone else put makeup on you is weird. Amy wanted foundation and the lady wanted to take all of her makeup off. Which hello--- no girl is going to let you do that. Jesus. While she was inching away from sales lady pushing the $60 spray foundation, Krysten and I snuck a picture. Which is APPARENTLY a huge no-no inside the store. Nobody told us why and I think it's a bit ridiculous. So check us out in our illegal, hooker-lipped glory:
We ended up not buying lipstick because Dior lipstick is $30 for a half tube. Which is insane. I'm sure there is more expensive out there, but neither of us have that kind of money laying around for lipstick.

So we moved onto other stores. An alarming trend we noticed was that almost every store had what I'm going to refer as Russian Chic. Like this hat and the matching mittens? All I need is a long coat and those hideous boots behind me and I'm set as a Russian hooker. Well I'll need the $30 lipstick but I feel I can pretty much pull the look off. I don't think I have to tell you that I basically felt like I had a dead animal on my head. Gross feeling.
 Well then we went into Ragstock and found, what I consider, to be the motherload of awesome hats. This my dear lambwhores? Is a hat meant to look like an elephant. Because when you think winter you automatically picture an elephant.
But we pretty much all agreed that it looks like a small but chubby penis and some unfortunately spaced balls.
Anna had to leave us early so she missed my elephant hat shenanigans. :( Sad day. After walking the entire mall a few times we decided to part ways since Krysten had a work meeting and I had to drive back to Superior. So we snapped a quickie picture:
 Amy, Krysten and Me

It was a fun afternoon. We've talked about doing this monthly after the holidays and I think that would be super fun. We'll have to rotate or something because it's a bit of gas for me, but it is still fun. And these girls were super fun to shop with. But I'm convinced our next gathering NEEDS to be a sex toy party because that is hilarious and fun. And awesome. And could you just imagine the pictures? Girls-- it needs to happen. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lenny & Weekend Part One

So because some of you aren't on Facebook and have emailed me about Lenny-- he's officially passed away. I am incredibly angry with the Superior Animal Hospital that I can barely put it into words. First off, they never told us last week that once a cat gets urinary blockage that it basically will come back again and again. And the vet tried talking us into spending another $1100 to "maybe" fix it. Among other things I'm too angry to talk about, I almost hit that bitch. Thank god I had Matt with me because I could be in jail as we speak. Anyways. We made the decision yesterday and I think Lenny knew. We brought him in and after being kind of rude and insensitive to us, they get an IV in him for the euthanasia. He kept rubbing up against us and meowing and it was breaking out hearts. Literally seconds before they do it they asked if we've already paid and we told them to add it to the fucking bill. Lenny looked at me, meowed in a very sad way, and then he was gone. It was only seconds but it was awful. They let us hang out with him for a little while and by the time they took him I had cried so much he was soaking wet. They checked him out and Matt is going to bury him under our apple tree this evening. My face is super red and hurts from crying and blowing my nose so much. So now, I have no Lenny AND I'm stuck with a $1200 bill because hey! We have to pay to put him down. And to as soon as I saw his bowl & humping blanket when I got home? Totally lost it. I can't even tell you how heavy my heart is right now. So let's all take a moment and say goodbye to Lenny. (Thanks to a lovely lambwhore that made this for me!)
OK. So I promised I would make an effort with a post so I'm going to write about part of my weekend. The other part (and funny pictures) will come tomorrow.

Saturday I drove down to River Falls to see Krysten and start the blog get-together weekend. Because I am an idiot I decided that I would take a risk and drive in a snowstorm. The fact that it took me an hour to get to Cloquet, which usually takes me 15 minutes, was not a good sign.
 And maybe the fact that it took me 3 hours to get to Hinckley when it's only an hour away was an even worse sign. Seriously. This picture? Is the only  time I could see the road and the car ahead of me. On a highway where it's 70mph max and 40mph min, I was doing 30. At one point we hit 20mph and the most I ever did was 40mph. And even that was iffy. It cannot be said I'm not a good friend, that's for damn sure.
 But once I got there, I got to see Krysten's new house which is amazing and I'm jealous of her fireplace. And that she has a guest bedroom. And her dog, Monte. And her cat, Molly. I can't say much for Metro because he hates women and that he's huge...but Monte and Molly liked me. And I liked the fact her dog humps her cat. I couldn't get a picture but someday I will. It was hilarious.

When I was there I watched Harry Potter movies 3 and 4 (guess what, Krysten?? We have movies 1-5. Who knew?? I didn't and I fucking live here! So I'm watching #5 tonight!) because I can't be her friend if I'm not up to speed on all things Potter. I'm working on it.

We ate junk food, talked about life and watched movies. It was a good night. Sunday we went to the Mall of America.. more on that tomorrow.

But here's a picture of Krysten and I holding Monte. The one with Monte licking my tongue was too blurry which is sad. And do you love how we are color coordinated without planning? I totally do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Burned Out and Sad.

Hey folks- just a ghetto quickie post tonight for you.

I literally JUST got home from a fabulous weekend with Krysten whom I adore even more now. AND I'm going to steal her doggie, Monte. FYI. But more on that tomorrow.


And I say "hopefully" because tomorrow is going to be really awful for me. You'll remember that last week I talked about Lenny and his urinary blockage? And I talked about on Thursday how we got him home after being in the vet for three days and accumulating a final bill of $1100? Well guess what? Lenny is blocked. Again. Matt called me this morning when I was with Krysten and I just started crying. Matt and I agreed on Thursday that if this were to happen again we'd have to put him down because $1100 is more than we have and frankly? We can't even pay this. And honestly- I thought I'd have more than a few days with him. I assumed a minimum of a few months, lucky if it was a few years. Days? Not so much.

Basically- Matt is bringing him to the vet at 7:30 in the morning tomorrow to have him looked at. He's wimpering kind of and meowing weird, constantly licking himself, etc. Same thing as last week. It doesn't look good and we know this- but I want to have it confirmed before we do anything. If they say what we think they will.... we are going to put him down. I'll drop the kids off at my mom's house and I'll meet Matt at the vet and we'll be with Lenny when he goes.

 Honestly? I'm crying uncontrollably. I'm not sure how schools can prepare vet techs to deal with this type of thing on a normal basis. I've had to put a pet down before, my dog Willie, but I was 15 and even though he was my dog... I wasn't there. I wanted to be but my dad did it when I was at school. (We had Willie cremated and he's in the hutch in my mom's dining room. Morbid... but I still can't part with him.) But this is different because he's my first pet as a grown up. Matt is really upset- I've only seen Matt cry once before so I know that this is just as hard on him. And I'm crying.

So if you don't hear from me'll know why. But before I sign off for the evening- I want to thank those of you who bought stuff on my Etsy shop to help us out financially, those of you who just sent me money via PayPal, those of you who took the time to leave me a nice comment or email me... thank you. I shared all of them with Matt and we gave Lenny extra love. He thanks you too. But it's hard because I feel like we have failed him even though we've done everything that we could do. Financially.. we can't do anymore. And that really sucks. It sucks that it's come down to money.

But at the end... I know we gave him a happy life. We loved him a lot. We rescued him from a shelter and treated him like a king. I am absolutely heartbroken that tomorrow morning will be the last time I get to hug him and give him kisses. I hope he knows that we love him and this is our way of doing it. I can't listen to him be sad and in pain. It makes me feel ill because I can't do anything for him to make him better. So this evening, I have his favorite green humping blanket and his new food (which was supposed to make his peeing problem all better) under the table where he's currently hiding. We're going to bring him to the vet and pay the $200 (goodbye utility bill) to put him down and hopefully he'll go to Kitty Heaven where he can bite butts and hump blankets pain free.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Everything I Never Wanted To Be

Everything I Never Wanted to Be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humor
To be up front, this is a book review. If you didn't read my post from yesterday, you won't understand why this book is a big deal.

Everything I Never Wanted To Be- Dina Kucera
"..true story of a family's battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Dina Kucera's household also includes her husband and his unemployed identical twin, a mother who has Parkinson's Disease, and a grandson who has cerebral palsy. On top of all that, Dina is trying to make it as a stand-up comic and author so she can quit her job as a grocery store clerk."

She has three daughters. Her oldest two battle alcoholism and a drug addiction. The youngest, Carly, started using heroin at 14. This is their struggle.

The letter written by her daughter in the beginnings pages made me ill. As I read the book I identified characteristics that were true to me. True to my family. And it scared the absolute hell out of me.

Dina writes about her own struggle with alcohol and pill addiction but she writes with a self deprecating humor that makes you not feel sorry for her, but you can relate. You understand. It makes sense. She writes about watching all three of her children struggle with addiction and you see that it isn't something someone can just give it up. You see the devastation of addiction first hand. It's a startling and unbelievable reality SO MANY families are struggling with. It also makes you feel more sympathetic to the families dealing with it because she talks about the inadequacies of the health care system in this country. You can't get into rehab but by god you can detox at home! It's spoken as if it's a cute little kit you can buy at Walmart. But the reality of it is that it ruins lives. And you can't always prevent it. You think you can...but it sneaks up. And denial is hard to look beyond.

Some of the things you read about in this book are sad and scary. For me, I tried to imagine if it were my child. How would I feel? What would I do? And in the end, I felt helpless because I realized how little I know about it. And you can look at your local schools and see drug use rampant in there. I know, from even ten years ago, I saw things that I'm sure my parents never imagined I would. And we won't even talk about college.

What I thought really made the book was her humor. I've always been the person to say if you don't laugh about it you're going to cry. And crying will ruin your makeup. I could relate to these people because growing up, we really had no money. Things were tight and my mom and step dad worked really hard to get us the basics. So when she touches on that with humor, it reminds me of when I was growing up:

"I needed to get my hair done, but I didn't have any money. My husband suggested that I go to the place where he gets his hair cut for $12. He said "How can you go wrong for $12?" Well, a woman can go VERY wrong for $12. A $12 haircut could ruin your life and change your gender..."

And some of you have commented or sent me private messages about how you only drink to have a good time but you're not an alcoholic. And I really hope you aren't and that you never go that route.

"People have asked me what the difference is between just 'having a good time' and actually being an alcoholic. Most people at happy hour are having a good time. But some of those people go home and pee on their floor. That's an indication there may be a problem."

Ultimately- the book is about hope. And faith. And that things can get better. That family is everything. Of survival. Or love. Of being strong enough to know when you're in over your head and you need help.

I recommend this book to everyone. If you have children, you need this book. If you know someone who is battling addiction, you need this book. If you've ever wondered if you are addicted, you need this book. If you have ever criticized someone who may or may not be battling addiction, you need this book. If you never read another book again, please make this one your last. I promise you that you will look at yourself, your life, your family, your friends and strangers around you in a different light.

I read somewhere that someone was quoted as saying that this book can change lives. And it can. It made me take a look at my own life and it made me address what I had going on. I get it. I understand it. And for the specific few of you (you know who you are) that reached out to send me a private message in regards to last night's blog post... you need to get this book. Maybe it's not for you but you owe it to the people around you.

The good news... because you all need the book... is that you can get a 30% discount if you go HERE and enter the code "Dina" in at checkout.

I wish you all the best. I hope that those of you who are struggling reach the point where you choose to accept help. I hope that those of you who know someone who needs help don't give up on that person. I hope you are sympathetic to those who struggle with addiction- the person they once were may be diminished or gone... but they deserve better. We need to advocate for them because they aren't capable of doing it themselves.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Brava, Valentine

 OK- so it's book review time. I actually have TWO of these this month and I want you to come back tomorrow to read that one. I know some of you aren't readers, but it's going to be a personal post so I want you to come back.

Anyways. This review is for Adriana Trigiani's book Brava, Valentine which is the second in the series. My library was super lame and at first was holding the first book Very Valentine but then told me they never had it and would never have it. *Insert angry eyes* LUCKILY- I didn't need to read the first one to enjoy this book. The story unfolds you get the basic outline of what happens in the first book. (And that's just great anyways, because sometimes it's a long time period between books you know?)

Brava, Valentine: A Novel
This story is about Valentine Angelini, who is now in charge of the family shoe business. She's in the middle of a lot of life changes and even those she wants to fall in love, eventually, she doesn't feel capable or ready.

Enter Gianluca- a hot and hunky Italian and her world is even more chaotic and crazy. And in the middle of all of THAT she finds out she has family she never knew about and is uncovering a long hidden family secret. And to layer even more onto it- other characters are having their own problems and you feel her juggling the family dynamic and trying to maintain the line of her own life.

The bottom line? I loved this book. It was such a fun read. The characters were light, but fun. The story was intriguing and you wanted to keep reading. You felt connected to the family and during parts of the book you actually felt like you were sitting at the table with them. While reading this book I realized I'm really excited about reading the third installment of this series. I feel vested in these characters. One of my favorite parts of the book is during a family holiday dinner all hell basically breaks loose and you can relate to it all and you're laughing but it's not really funny, it's actually sad, but you can't help yourself because you feel like this could be your family. It probably is. The romance between Valentine and Gianluca feels real- like this is a more realistic occurrence than say.... a romance novel.

So I recommend this book if you are looking for a light and fun read without a heavy storyline.

AND-- in celebration of the book coming out- you could win a trip to Italy for you and a friend. Honestly? Don't bother because I want to win and I'll fight dirty. ;) Go here for details!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Learn to Read

Honestly- if you aren't a reader I wonder why. I would be a boring loser if I didn't read. Anyways. Here are some books I've read lately that you may (or may not) like:

1. Crescendo- Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo (Hush, Hush)If you haven't read the first book in this series (or maybe it's only a trilogy??), Hush, Hush you'll have to do that before you read this on. I did a review on that one HERE, and I really think you'll love it. What I love about this author is that she's actually talented and she can write where you can't put the book down. This one took me two days to finish (so maybe 8 hours total) and it was GREAT. Beyond great. It leaves you on a fantastic cliffhanger and you only get part of the puzzle solved BUT the piece you solve is crazy. I never saw it coming. Never. It was good. I can't recommend this book enough.

2. Accidents In The Home- Tessa Hadley

Accidents in the Home: A NovelI got this book in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble and it was good. A little different ending than I thought- but good nonetheless. It's about Clare, a 29 year old mom of 3 who is basically considered a stay at home mom. She's married and has, essentially, the perfect life. When her best friend visits with her new lover (whom Clare knows from years before) she suddenly realizes she wants more out of life. She is overwhelmed with her current life and is kind of jealous of the care free life her friend has. Never mind that all of Clare's family sees life differently and in their own rights are having some kind of crisis in their own lives. So in order to test the waters Clare sets in motion the acts that eventually end the book. Nobodies lives are ever the same and the ending is kind of unsatisfying to me as a reader, but I suppose if it were real life it's exactly how this part of the story would end. Honestly I could relate to Clare because I know the feelings she was feeling in the book. And I understood her rationale.  There was a passage that summed it all up perfectly: She couldn't think how to complain of him. She out to have a complaint, oughtn't she, for an alibi? He was uncommunicative sometimes. And he didn't like many people, much; he was always friendly and polite, but in private he was unforgiving if he found out anyone's vanity or pretension. He knew things but he didn't invent things. Those didn't sound like accusations; they sounded like goodness. And that's it- it makes it seem as if you're just good enough... maybe it isn't enough? If you're married, if you're married with kids, or if you are with a long term partner and kind of feel like you're in a weird rut- it's an interesting book.

3. Smoked - Patrick Quinlan

Again, a bargain book from Barnes & Noble. (Can I just say how in love I am with their online clearance?? It's great. Books for under $5? Can't beat that!) So this book is a suspense/mystery type book. Smoke Dugan is a former bomb maker that decided he was going to retire...which you can't really do when you're essentially in a mob like organization. He's hid for a long time but his number is up and they've found him. His girlfriend, Lola, gets into a lot of trouble and finds herself unknowingly tangled up in his drama. Then enters Cruz, the hitman of sorts sent to take care of Smoke, but is thinking about ending his career as well. He's debating how to retire and not get killed. The book is good. I liked the characters, the story was really interesting and all of the little things that go wrong and bring more players into the mix really keeps the story moving. The only quirk is that it kind of ends like there COULD be a sequel. It wouldn't necessarily be needed... but I could see how the author could turn around and write another story with these characters. For this being the author's first novel- he did really well.

OK- so that's what I've finished in the last 7 days! I have two book reviews next week for you, one on Monday and one on Tuesday for TLC Book Tours. I want you to come and read both, but the one on Tuesday is going to have personal stuff attached to it. Anyways!

Have a good weekend- you may not see or hear from me tomorrow. Maybe. We'll see. ;)

Friday, October 29, 2010

The time our morals got the best of us... aka the Maroon 5 concert.

I am actually going to do two posts of this concert, because I just have TOO MUCH to write. Seriously. So today it's going to be about the concert itself, and then tomorrow's post will be about the assholes around us. Trust me- they warrant their own post.

So my absence yesterday was because one of my most fun and favorite friends, Krysten, and I went to see Maroon 5 - One Republic - and Ry Cummings in concert. We always have such a great time together and she totally embraces my crazy. I think I've only embarrassed her a few times. :) But she's awesome and I'm SUPER excited for our blog get together in November. ANYWAYS.

So here's me...leaving for the show.
 It's become our tradition to meet up in Roseville and eat at Flame (you remember the place with the cool bathroom, right?) Their fries are so fabulous but this time we branched out. I ordered pickles:
 a chicken quesadilla...
 an obviously a side of fries.
 We had fabulous conversation about boys and pretty much hashed out our plan to kidnap Maroon 5 and we were in cahoots with our server. But we couldn't leave until we had the much talked about cheesecake that Ang INSISTED we try. And because she really did insist we eat it (a gun may or may not have been involved) Krysten and I were forced to give up any diets way may or may not have been on and ordered the cheesecake.
 Thankfully...Ang was right. This is the best fucking cheesecake I have ever had. I think Ang's contribution to the blog get together potluck is to bring us all cheesecake. I'm just sayin. (Good luck trying to top that, Ang!)

Anyways- so we head over to the Target Center (Simple Dude- what the fuck is with prepay parking? We almost got fucked over on that! Cash or check only??!! What the fuck is going on with this?!) and we basically got our Maroon 5 groupie shirts and friendship bracelets.
 OK- so they are really supporting the ONE campaign but I think we should decorate them and pretend they are best-friends-forever bracelets. And here's us- CLEARLY the cutest girls in the place.
 So the first set was Ry Cummings who hails from Australia and from far away he looked cute. He could have sucked a lot but we decided because of the adorable accent we would have been fine with that. It's like, just shut up and talk, ya know? But he has a good voice and we both liked him.
 Then after them One Republic came out. I don't care what anyone says- I think One Republic are amazing. They've been called the American Coldplay and they kind of are. The lyrics, how they put instruments together, the all just kind of works. They played a lot of my favorite songs. But the seriously amazing highlight of the night was their mash up Stand by Me, with the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army with Justin Timberlake Sexy Back. I'm not even kidding. Watch it HERE. It's not the full thing, but you get a taste of it AND an idea of how they interact with the crowd. They seriously were fun and you could tell they'd be fun as hell to party with. Ryan Tedder was pretty much everywhere on the stage, into the audience, had fun with the entire set- he was just great. The entire band had fabulous stage presence and I would see them again, definitely. Never mind the fact I god damn LOVE Stand by Me (and if you don't know the original you should be ashamed of yourself and go here to get up to speed with a fucking classic). Here is a full version of their mashup.

 Maroon 5 comes on, which I almost freaking missed trying to get some damn water. I had to not get the water because it was taking the bartenders easily 3 minutes to mix one drink or pull out bottle of beer. Like shit- I can't bartend but I just bed I could do it faster. Dang. So I run back in, dying of dehydration, and they were so good.

One thing of note- I would like to add a "disco ball" to my Christmas gift list. They had a god damn disco ball and it was so fun.
 They put on a fabulous show, and while I was a Maroon 5 concert virgin, Krysten had seen them a few times before so she raved about them and she was right. They are so freaking talented and his voice live is amazing. I loved how they really included all of their hits, plus some of their favorites from all three cd's.
They also did an Al Green cover of Let's Stay Together. Krysten and I were pretty much horrified that her husband had no idea who Al Green was. Seriously. Go HERE if you don't know the damn original. God. How could you not know that song? Pretty much only a few people in there knew the song but Krysten and I were belting it out and it was a fun moment.

I was a little bummed they didn't play Get Back Into My Life or Just A Feeling. Those are my two favorites off the new album, but overall it was really good. I had such a good time.

And I know our plan was to kidnap Adam and the boys. But you see- we both brought big purses. And it made finding the roofies in the our giant purses... really hard. And then we get lost in the skywalks and such, but this time we found a better door to get in/out of the parking ramp, but we were on the 6th level and yay. Basically we felt guilty because Adam and the boys looked really tired. And we lost our roofies. Next time, for sure though.

And seriously? The drive home? You would have though I had a roofie myself I was so damn tired. Granted, I slept like crap the night before and went straight down after work, but still. I barely made it to Hinckley and had to walk around the parking lot of Tobies with some scary truck driver just to wake up. And I ended up eating a sandwich at Hardees which was as gross as it is every other time I eat there, but at least my super gigantic bladder busting Coke helped. Until I hit Cloquet and then it was like a serious problem staying awake. I pulled into my house right around 2am and went to bed in my clothes. I couldn't even change I was that tired.

I woke up this morning still wearing a shoe and being strangled by my necklace. I also have a raging headache, an upset stomach, and have thrown up once. You'd seriously think I had been drinking or something. Oh! And my ass and inner thighs?? Hurt. A lot. So I'm not really sure- maybe I actually took the roofies. Dang.