Friday, March 30, 2012

How To Eat A Cupcake

Well folks, I am behind on life due to the plague of death, round two. Even though I am no longer housed in the bathroom for a variety of fun, I still feel like I am swallowing glass. Which you know, is awesome. But I am trying to catch up on life so here we go.

How To Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donahue

Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clairs’ housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.
A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death, and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia’s engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens up old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything.
You know I love me a good chick lit book, but I've grown frustrated with most of what I have read recently. Every story sounds like another book I have read. I feel like this is like a few books but we changed up the setting and put some cupcakes in it. 
Part of what made this just a mediocre book for me is that it never hooked me, drew me in to keep reading. I could predict everything that happened, the fights/arguments between Annie and Julia, and the ending. And it's so frustrating because I felt like the author wanted to have this fun book that would be a fun book club read or something to share among friends and this just doesn't get there. The characters are predictable and... stereotypical? Annie is the low income Hispanic person who holds a grudge against the world and then there's Julia, privileged, wealthy white girl. You know what happens, you know why they had their big rift and you know how it ends. 
Overall, if you really love chick lit and that's really the only genre that gets you reading- pick this one up, you won't be disappointed. On the other hand, if you read to get a new story, or to experience something, wait for my next review. 
Meg will be joining Book Club Girl on April 24 at 7pm Eastern Standard Time so if you like hearing from authors, please check this out here. And of course, see Meg's website!
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beans, Spit, and the Road.

Ah.. the third day of Chicago. Equally as gorgeous in weather which was too bad because it was of course, freezing as fucking hell at home. The good thing about it being so obscenely wonderful in Chicago was that it really felt like a vacation because it was such a change from home. But you want to see pictures!

On Sunday we walked from our hotel down to Millennium Park where daffodils and tulips were in bloom, and that was amazing. This is the outdoor amphitheatre and it's a piece of art itself. The arches are like sound barriers so surrounding buildings aren't bombarded with noise.
 And of course, we saw Cloud Gate otherwise known as The Bean.
 I had to take the obligatory dork in the bean picture.
 The bean from the other side is just pretty because you get the gorgeous skyline reflected into it.
 The group of us being equally dorky and waving at ourselves in the Bean.
 The park also has these two huge glass tiled columns. According to our trolley tour guide, over 100 Chicago residents agreed to have their faces used on the columns. Their faces fade in/out and they are expressive- the smile, blink, and pucker their lips into a kiss. When they pucker their lips, the fountain turns on and water shoots out of their mouth as if they are spitting on you. It's kind of disgusting but fun at the same time.
After we got our caffeine fix we were able to check out of the hotel and get on the road. What a long fucking drive. It was long on the way there but the anticipation of a fun weekend makes it go by faster. We left Chicago right around 11am and I found myself having to stop several times along the way to wake myself up. I did get to stop at a Cracker Barrel and buy 8 more sugar suckers and you know I've eaten every one of them already. We stopped in Wisconsin Dells to do a little outlet shopping and I got my kids some outfits for summer at cheap prices so that was kind of great. By the time we got to Amy's apartment it was about 10:30 pm and we still had about two hours to drive to get us home.

I sat on my own bed in my own house at 12:34 am and I fell asleep with my clothes, shoes, jacket and keys in hand only to be promptly woken up at 5am by two overly eager kids. I was exhausted. I had work that day and I won't complain too much because Emily had to be there at 8 and I had to be in by 10. But still, I bet she wasn't up at 5am!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Green with envy.

OK, so I fell off the planet for a few more days. Spank me. In reality, I have a lot going on in my own little world and so I am having to carve out time for other things just to keep it all moving. With that, blogging may be sporadic but no less sassy. With that said, let's talk about Chicago, day two.

Right away when we came out of our hotel we saw a religious crazy. You know I love me some religious crazies because they are a good time and it makes me feel more secure in my own mental issues. The last St. Patrick's Day I was at in Chicago we had Scientologists with scary masks on, and so I was glad that Chicago didn't let me down this time.
 And the river was GREEN. Like bright ass green. Fun fact- the chemical they use to dye the river green is actually orange and it was only by accident that the river turned green. It was originally used so they could see if the water was leaking into surrounding infrastructure but since it's green- why not party? Also cool is that the tradition of dying the river is passed down through a Chicago family through multiple generations. I thought that was kind of awesome.
 So one of the first things we did was purchase our tickets for the 5:30 pm water taxi because Emily wanted to do it and I had never done it. The bonus is that it was fairly cheap at $29 a person because it was great. More on that in a bit. Then after buying those tickets we walked down to the Water Tower Place and bought our tickets for the trolley. Keep in mind at this point it's almost lunch time and nobody has eaten. This tour is typically two hours long if you don't hop on/off anywhere and it's a pretty substantial loop that you go on. The plan was to get to Navy Pier, get off and have lunch, look around and then get back onto the trolley.
 This didn't happen because guess what? There are a lot of fucking people in Chicago walking around half drunk on St. Patrick's Day.
 Three hours later, we get to Navy Pier. But not before I had to hold in vomit from having ridiculously low blood sugar, a migraine coming on and basically breaking out in cold sweat because I felt like I was either going to puke all over the trolley or pass out.
 (side note: tell me this isn't post card worthy??? I took that myself!)

Anyways. We get to Navy Pier and almost immediately, the smell of warm garbage (it was in the mid 80's and gorgeous outside) and fast food made my mouth feel tingly. We all had to pee by this point so we get into the bathroom and I puke. Obviously. Afterwards, I felt confident I could eat something. So I get into line with the girls to get food and just as I'm getting to the register, my mouth feels tingly again. You know that feeling- your mouth gets warm and tingly and saliva pools in there, yeah. So I ask Amy to get me a Pepsi and I run like a ninja to the bathroom. The line was ENORMOUS and no way was I going to make it. So I do what anyone would do.

I go to the men's room and puke in a urinal.

Thankfully, there were no guys in there and even if there were I don't know that I'd care because we had an emergency situation and I didn't want to puke in the family pavilion with the little girls who were doing Irish dances or whatever performing right there.

Afterwards, I was not eating lunch. I got my Garrett's popcorn (which was as delicious as the trolley person said it would be) and drank my Pepsi. After about an hour I started to feel OK, so we got on the trolley and headed back to the water taxi place.
 We snapped a picture before we got on the taxi.
 And I took some more of the river as the sun was almost ready to go down.
 And then we got on our little water taxi. Which was amazing and maybe the most relaxing thing we did. It was so nice to be on a boat, with cool people, learning about this awesome city, waving to the locals and having them wave back, and watch the sun set over Lake Michigan. Like, can you really end a great day any better?
Emily and I were boat buddies and if it were not for her suggestion, we would not have been on that awesome water taxi!

After the water taxi we went to the Cheesecake Factory to get some food. Um, WORST SERVICE EVER. I've eaten at that location before and it was delicious, but this time it was bad. The food was bad, we had three different employees wait on us (kind of), we were there for what seemed like forever but was just under two hours because that's apparently how incompetent they were, and then Amy and Tammy got yelled at for having to pee because they were trying to close the bathroom down 45 minutes before the place closes. Um, rude. And THEN, the waitress (the last one we had) got kind attitude when we asked for her to split the bill up. Bitch, we're each paying with cards, don't give me an attitude. I was also pissy about my drink having no ice. Like, who gets fountain soda with no ice? The ice makes the drink. Everybody knows that. Assholes.

Anyways. It was a long walk back to the hotel, I was exhausted and knew I would have to be up early on Sunday so we can make the horrifically long drive back. I ended up getting no sleep at all either night, but overall it was worth it. Tomorrow I'll show you my Sunday pictures and wrap up my Chicago posts. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mice, Moose, Yogi and Pizza. All related, I swear.

Yes! The moment you've been waiting for--- posts about my trip to Chicago. I have to break this up into a couple of posts because I have a lot of pictures to share and stories to tell. So let's start with Friday- day one.

We left Superior at like 6am (me, Tammy and Emily) and drove to Bloomington to pick up Amy. Then we headed towards Chicago and the weather was perfect. I'm talking mid 70's in MARCH. The drive was fairly uneventful until our lunch stop in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. There, you will find probably the most hick version of a Perkins restaurant ever. Outside you see the cheese store and creepy sign:
 A random orange moose. Not to mention the other moose who is missing half of his horn thingies.
 A large deer statue humping a faux log.
We had what I thought was the worst restaurant service (which was later trumped by the Cheesecake Factory, but more on that tomorrow) because our waitress was, I'm pretty sure at least, mentally handicapped. Which, good for Perkins. Really, good for them. But this girl was clearly not meant to be a waitress. Not only did our food take forever to get there, but lots of stuff was screwed up. Not to mention she never did help the table of four old people next to us the entire time we were there. The hostess and then the manager kind of half assed it for them. But the best part of this Perkins was their used book shelf you could buy books from. Now, if it wouldn't have been so blatantly rude of me to take pictures of these books I would have. The books all ranged from either super crazy religious, instructional manuals on how to be a good homemaker and other random shit, to the obscenely racist title called, Who'll Vote For Lincoln? with an African American boy on the cover. Um, yeah. Welcome to back country America, folks. Considering we're well above the Mason Dixon line, I was a bit surprised to see this.

Then a little further down the road we stopped at a Road Ranger gas station. Mostly because anything called Road Ranger instantly sounds like a fun time compared to BP. Not so fun? The $4.19/gallon of gas. Seriously, rape me with the pump shall we? Anyways. While pumping gas, we all laughed when Yogi rolled in.
 Because you just don't see that every day. FYI though? Even though Road Ranger has 64 ounce fountain soda for $.49- DON'T DO IT. It tastes like shit. Total shit. With bubbles. Kind of. Just pass it up.

Once we got to Chicago and settled into our hotel, we decided that we would take a quick walk around the area since it was still 79 degrees out at 6:30 at night, and we were on the search for Chicago pizza. We went to Giordano's because it was close and I had never eaten there before so I figured I'd try something new. (I know, I shock even myself sometimes.)
 The pizza was really good but the appetizers were kind of a joke. I should have taken pictures. So, skip the appetizers and hold out for the pizza. We got the classic stuffed crust pizza which was so damn good.
 Tammy and me kind of matchy matchy.
 Amy and Emily!
After pizza we decided to call it an early night because the next day was the big St. Patrick's Day celebration and the river was going to be green and we wanted to be super well rested and energized! I was exhausted from being up so early to get us to Chicago and so I really had hoped that I'd get all of this sleep. That did not happen.

Part two tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Priest and the Peaches

A few posts about Chicago are coming, but I am a wee bit behind in life having been gone for three entire days, so in the meantime, you get a book review!

The Priest and the Peaches by Larry Peterson

Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s.Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral. They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 

What immediately drew me to this story was the fact that it's about kids who are having to grow up quickly and basically navigate through adulthood on a fast track. The Peach children immediately feel like real characters and within the first ten pages you are rooting for them and want them to do well.

Though some parts of the story I feel probably could have been taken out, I really enjoyed this book and sailed through it fairly quickly. The Peach family kind of reminds me of my mom and her brothers- who though they weren't dealing with the death of both parents, really had to band together as a family out of necessity. The daughter, Joanie, definitely reminds me of my mom having to care for her brothers and basically run a household long before she really knows how to. I immediately felt bad for the younger brothers and could really sympathize with the fact that they have lost both parents while they are so young and how the uncertainty of what to do or what was going to happen would be terrifying.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it if you are looking for an endearing but quick read. The story really only goes through the first days of them losing their father (the mother died previously) but it's a lot of story in such a short span. And you are left wishing you could do more for the fictional family and hope for the best for them.

This review was done for Tribute Books, and I suggest you check them out if you are looking for some new reading material. You can also check them out their Facebook or Twitter. Larry also has a blog, Facebook and Twitter that you can check out too. Fun fact about Larry- he apparently lives in Pinellas Park, Florida just a little ways from where I grew up and lived for a few years.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please use these links:

So that's it! I really love supporting authors who aren't heavily advertised and really support themselves through home grown efforts, so please give these writers the support as well!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Losing Clementine

By the time you read this, your Lambwhore Leader will be well on my way to Chicago for my 30th Birthday Bash Weekend. You know I'll bring you loads of pictures, but you'll have to be patient until probably Monday. I come back on Sunday but I have no idea when and I'll probably be too busy squeezing the guts out of my kids to post.

You'll survive. But in case you don't, you should read this book. This weekend.

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream

In thirty days Clementine Pritchard will be finished with her last painting and her life. World-renowned artist and sharp-tongued wit Clementine Pritchard has decided that she’s done. After flushing away a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions, she gives herself thirty days to tie up loose ends—finish one last painting, make nice with her ex-husband, and find a home for her cat. Clementine plans to spend the month she has left in a swirl of art-world parties, manic work sessions, and outrageous acts—but what she doesn’t expect is to uncover secrets surrounding the tragedy that befell her mother and sister. In an ending no one sees coming, will we lose Clementine or will we find her? 

I absolutely loved this book. I have a thing about suicide novels because I guess it's such a polarizing topic and I suppose it depends on which side of it you're on whether you'll like it or not. Though it's fiction, I would believe that a good portion of suicidal people are as methodical in planning their death as Clementine was.

I loved Clementine's character and though she's flawed, I think that I would probably think just like her. Perhaps that's why I was so drawn in by this book. I think that given the same set of circumstances as Clementine I would almost certainly see suicide as an option. Clementine suffers from a multitude of mental health issues which may or may not be genetic given the unfortunate and untimely deaths of her mother and sister, and after trying every available option she realizes that nothing makes her feel better. It's all shades of gray, deciding what side effects are worth dealing with and weighing whether it's better to feel in bad in different ways than be perceived as crazy.

Of course, you don't see the ending coming. And I'm not going to lie- I cried when she gave away her cat, Chuckles. I totally cried because it's like you're mourning the death of something already and then it made me even more sad for Clementine. But I do like the ending and I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I really loved this book and of course, I recommend you read it as well. AND, I want you to check out her website, Facebook, and Twitter because Ashley seems like a funny and great person so she'll keep you entertained. And, if you like interviews, Book Girl Club is interviewing Ashley April 10 at 8pm EST.

Read on party lambs!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Come and Find Me

Some of you asked if I ever read mystery/thrillers and I do. It just seems not very often, though. BUT, here is one that I recently finished.

Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron

Reformed hacker Diana Highsmith hasn’t left her house in over a year . . .
. . . not since she watched the man she loved fall to his death in the Swiss mountains. Now a grief-stricken recluse, she runs a thriving Internet security company from her home—meeting with clients in OtherWorld, an online virtual reality platform where she lives as her avatar, Nadia. The only two people Diana has seen live in the past twelve months are her sister, Ashley, and her UPS delivery guy.
But when Ashley vanishes, Diana is forced to do the unthinkable: to brave both the outside and her own personal demons to find her missing sister. As one shaky step leads to another, Diana finds that the trail she is following is fraught with peril for her and her sister both—as she uncovers a frightening web of deceit and betrayal that stretches from the virtual world into real life.

OK, so let me start by saying I literally just watched a show about people who participate in version 2.0 or "other reality" lives. Basically, it's like that game Sims, but the characters are "real" and people fall in love and basically let this take over their real life. Freaks and weirdos, peeps. So then I started reading this book and was immediately annoyed because people who fall into that probably need professional mental help. 

I found that this book was slow to get going and at one point I really wanted to give up. Eventually I started getting into it once her sister goes missing and she ventures out of her house. I absolutely loved how Hallie twisted the plot at the very end because I can say I absolutely did not see it coming. I had a suspicion about one character, but the other? Did not see it. Not at all. Except now when I think back about certain parts of the book I probably should have seen it- but that's OK. I will say that my heart kind of broke for Diana. And when you read the book you'll know why- it's definitely not the ending I wanted for her so much, but I think that maybe if this were a real life person, she'd recapture some of her life back. 

Hallie is on Facebook and has a website too! I also suggest you check out what other bloggers said about this book as well

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Between a Rock and a Hot Place

Oh praise baby jeebus- a book every woman should absolutely read. I'm not kidding- if you have a vagina, you need to get your ass to a book store and buy this book. Don't borrow it from the library, buy this book. It will become your Bible as you age and you will be scared out of your pants but you will be grateful for knowing what is going to happen to you.

Between A Rock And A Hot Place: Why Fifty Is The New Fifty- Tracey Jackson

As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Tracey Jackson found herself bombarded by a catchphrase on everyone’s lips: “Fifty is the new thirty.” With a comedy writer’s training and a screenwriter’s eye for detail, Jackson skewers that particular myth with a hilarious, bare-knuckled, and ultimately practical appraisal of what middle age really means today. Jackson not only faces the elephant in the room, she puts it under a (very large) microscope, confronting the truth about death, work, and sex in what the French call the “third age.”

God damn I have never laughed so hard while being in absolute fear of what was to come. Normally people don't laugh when you read about how your body will turn into a horrible, angsty place but you absolutely will in this book. 

I remember being a teenager and my mom would wonder when she would go through menopause- all of her friends were doing it, her mom was dead so she had no idea when she did it or what it was like, and no doctor can really tell you. And I remember the exact day when my mom was telling me about hot flashes and I thought, "yeah, OK- turn on a fan." And then I remember the day where I was shopping with my mom in a freezing store and looking at her going through a hot flash thinking that she was going to internally combust because she looked like at any moment, things would align just right and she'd explode right in front of me. 

And I was horrified

Since then, I'm scared out of my pants to go through menopause. Then I read this book and everything I've heard from my own mom and witnessed in women around me is confirmed to all be true and I'm just as scared now. But at least I don't feel like the only one that will have to suffer as those who've paved the way did. I loved the chapter about kids growing up and moving away being the biggest pink slip of all, which I guess I never thought of it that way but it's true. When your kids grow up and just suddenly leave, you are essentially fired with no severance package, aren't you? 

The entire book talks about different phases of womanhood between menopause, sex with your spouse, your career, motherhood, etc in such a frank and funny way that you can't help but speed through it. This book shall become me go-to reference manual for all things related to my vagina and birthday. I cannot recommend this book highly enough- it's the funniest take on aging that I have ever read. 

Please see what other bloggers are saying HERE. Otherwise, stalk Tracey on her website, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter