Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All Time Low concert. With a not so super review.

You may remember that last Thursday I was going to the All Time Low concert with my sister in law. Oh yes, it's all coming back to you know. So here are some pictures and my honest review.

First, our drive down was pretty easy. We stopped for gas in Pine City and saw this sign. We both felt that this is what your poop would look like after eating one.
OK. So we get to the venue early and the first two things we notice are: A) we are way older than everyone around us and B) we are not emo enough. We waited in line in the cold for about two hours and once we got inside I was so numb. I wore capris and a short sleeve shirt because hello- I almost melted the last time I was at First Avenue. Anyways.

The first band to play was the Summer Set. Now, I liked their music for the most part so I was kind of excited to see them. The sad part is that they kind of suck live. I didn't get into the music at all and felt like maybe they didn't want to be there. I look over and realize I'm standing right next to a ten year old boy who is like, losing his shit, over this band. I felt kind of sad for him? Because this band was sucking. And for how young the crowd was, I was super disappointed in all of the bands for being so vulgar. Normally I don't care but the fact that this crowd was comprised of mostly under 17 year old kids and their chaperones, I felt like it wasn't really ok.
Second band to play was Hey Monday. I have their sign song EP and kind of like it, but they are the newest band to me in that night's line up. They also weren't that great. So much so that I was even debating on just leaving the show. This band hails from Florida and so clearly want to be the next Paramore. I've seen Paramore in concert before and this singer (and band) have nothing on Paramore. They need to find their own niche because what they have going isn't working for me.
 The third band to play was Yellowcard. Now, I am not a big Yellowcard fan but I do like a lot of their music. Kate (my sister in law) is a pretty big fan so she was excited to see them. Honestly though? They aren't very good live. I have seen better cover bands than this and I was pretty damn disappointed. I have a big thing that if they don't sound like they do on their record... I lose respect and interest. Which sucks because I liked their new single.
 Soon after Yellowcard started Kate wanted to go sit down. Keep in mind, by this point she had been awake for 37 hours since she didn't get much sleep two nights before, had to work overnight, got to my house at 6 am, tried fixing a hair dye job gone horribly wrong until we left around 11am. So the poor girl was a bit delirious. Obviously the few bar stools they have in there were taken so we had to settle for the filthy stairwell leading up to the balcony area. It was gross, but sitting down was nice. AND we realized we could still see everything really well.
 And the most important thing? Drinking enough water so you aren't delirious and dehydrated on the very long car ride home.
 But Yellowcard was so shitty that I spent a good portion of that set admiring my favorite concert shoes. I really love these shoes.
 OK. So then All Time Low came on and I was fully prepared for a shit set because everything else sucked and so it would only be a fitting way to cap off an extremely long day. But no.

All Time Low are AMAZING live.
They are super funny, super inappropriate and are just really talented. Of all of the bands I have ever seen.. I would say that their crowd interaction has been the best I have ever seen. Hands down. I think they told they audience nobody leaves without being fingered, then people threw bras up and they wore them on their heads or microphone stands, they were just really lively and most importantly- sounded fantastic live.

I had a really great time just watching their show, but one of the highlights was an acoustic version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and then they morphed that into their song "Therapy" which is kind of an iconic song for me.

So overall, the show was really shitty until All Time Low came on. They did a really great job and made me not completely regret the money I spent on the ticket and gas to get there. :)

TOMORROW I have two giveaway winners to announce. :) Come back lovahs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Peach Keeper + GIVEAWAY

I'm going to be honest- peaches kind of freak me out. Peaches have that weird fuzzy fur on it, and in my experience you should just stay away from things covered in fuzzy fur. It's just a life lesson that has served me well.

But with that said- this is a good read. I really liked it. I have seen on a few other blogs or on Good Reads that people are pretty mixed about it, but I don't care. I think it is a good book and you should read it. It's only 288 pages so psh- that's a day of reading for me peeps.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots. But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town. Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living. Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

Ok so that's a rather lengthy description of the book that gives you a good idea of what it's about. Now, I feel like the title makes it sound like fluffy BFF's forever with matching bracelets type of story. And honestly? I didn't feel like it was. I mean, I kind of don't like stories like that? Where the girls end the story holding hands on a porch swing. Call me cynical but BLECH.

Anyways. The story goes quickly, I really liked the characters. Usually, there's a character I can't stand and I feel like slapping them? But I can say I actually liked them all in different ways. I was rooting for Willa and Colin and then Paxton and Sebastian. The mystery behind the bones at the Blue Ridge Madam is really interesting especially if you take in the context of what time period it would have happened it- the very beginning of The Depression. And then the sub plots of the relationships between the two couples kept me reading.

In all, I was satisfied and I would recommend this book as a good summer read.

And if you really, really want it.... COMMENT on this post to be entered to win your very own copy of The Peach Keeper. You must be a follower through GFC, though. Obviously. ;) Good luck!! Drawing will be held on Wednesday, April 27.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Promise Not to Tell

Ok kidlets and lambwhores- I have a good book for you, yes I do. When I saw this come up as a book tour option I jumped on it right away because I have heard a lot of good things about it and about the author, Jennifer McMahon.

Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon
Promise Not to Tell: A Novel
Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother who’s afflicted with Alzheimer’s. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered—a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate’s childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del—shunned and derided by classmates as “Potato Girl”—was brutally slain. Del’s killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

Now. Right off the bat I will tell you this is a murder mystery that you have no idea how or where it will end up. Clocking in at 250 pages total Jennifer does a fantastic job at getting a story to you with so much depth, so many things to think about, the suspense of a good mystery and overall enjoyment of a book done in so few pages.

If you want an example of bullying gone wrong this is for you. If you want a story about the resilience of children this book is for you. If you want a story about how past choices can lead to a future of regrets and "what ifs" this book is for you. This is probably one of the most interesting books I have read in awhile as far as characters.
Del Griswold, aka Potato Girl, is messed up. Had she lived in the real world she'd probably end up becoming a serial killer prostitute in truck stops. But it isn't towards the end when the pieces of the mystery come together that you realize why she was the way she was and it's sad but you know that in real life, it's probably all too familiar. Kate is like a lot of us, too intimidated to stand up for what is right because usually that means you'll be the recipient of the bad behavior, she's a victim of the mob mentality, but it comes at the cost of the life of her best friend.

Although the material in the book is pretty mature considering you have the murders of young women which are fairly gruesome and the other adult topics throughout.. this is one of those books that I would encourage teenagers to read. I would be really interested in what they thought about it in perspective of their own lives at school. What I really enjoyed about this book was that I could relate to both Del and Kate. I have been in both positions and neither one was a good place to be. It is such a great example of the innocence of children taken away by adults, and how their spirit is damaged by peers, often with a tragic ending.

It's just a really good book and I really encourage you to read it. The book copyright is 2007 so it should be available at your local libraries, but most certainly at any book store. You can see other reviews of this book here or check out the author's website here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus

If you are looking for a quick read, this is your book. I finished this baby in just around six hours and you too, can be a rock star.

Celebrated YA novelist Sonya Sones makes a HUGE splash with her first adult novel, The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, spinning a funny, fierce, and piercingly honest coming-of-middle-age story about falling apart and putting yourself back together. Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck meets Elizabeth Berg—boldly original and endlessly enthralling—in Sones’s unique creation of seamless narrative written in free verse. The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is a luminous, brilliantly told story of life, marriage, and parenthood that you will not soon forget.

Now, had I not read that description, I would not have known Sonya Sones is a YA novelist. I would have to say, for this being my first book by her, she made the jump from YA easily.

What's also interesting is that this book is not like a regular novel, it's not written in chapter form. It's a series of poems. Yes, poems. No, it's not boring or annoying. It makes it a fast read, so for those of you who are slow readers or don't like reading the same book for awhile, please check this book out.

Basically the book is about Holly, her husband, and her daughter who is about to go off to college. Holly is a writer, her husband an artist, and her daughter is a good kid with lots to look forward to in her future. Holly is also experiencing the very beginnings of menopause, writer's block, facing empty-next syndrome, worried about having to live with her husband without the daughter as a constant topic and/or companion and oh yeah- her mother (who lives far away) is having lots of health issues. It's funny, it's honest, it reads like it's a real life diary of someone you know. Maybe it's you.

"The good news is that he'll probably
be able to alleviate her pain
and maybe even reverse her symptoms

if he gives her
enough steroids
to kill an elephant.

The bad news is that taking
such megadoses of steroids might cause
my mother to experience "roid rage"."

And that's exactly how it's written. It's fast, it's to the point, but it paints a picture that most novelists take pages to describe. More people would be readers, I'm sure, if writers didn't kill us with details that don't matter.

"You are old
if before you head off
on your morning run

you find yourself
tucking your husband's
cell phone number into your pocket

so that the paramedics
will know
who to call."

I think a lot of us can relate to that! And this one? Made me think of my Weightloss Monday groupies:

To the one-pound bag of oreos I just bought:

It's so sad
to think

that just moments
from now

will be gone

and I'll
be a cow.

You get the picture. The book is funny and I feel like a lot of women especially can and will relate. AND, if you have already been through your kids leaving home then you will enjoy this, because it showcases what it's like for mothers during the senior year of high school when the day of doom is looming. It's a great read to bring on a plane, to the beach, to the park, wherever because you'll probably finish it in just a few hours. Promise.

In the meantime, see what other people said about this book HERE, check out Sonya's website HERE, or her Facebook page HERE.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another concert in the books.

Well last night was the My Chemical Romance concert in Minneapolis and it was really good. Like... so good I still feel hung over even though I don't drink. It seriously kicked my ass and I'm feeling my age today.. let's put it that way.

But you want a review and pictures don't you lambwhores?? Well ok. I suppose.

So here is my sis in law Kate and me before everything started. With my old camera I could work it like no other, but this new one?? Yeah. It's all tricky and has fancy do hickeys and it took me 7 tries to figure out to turn the fucking flash on so it would work in say... a dark nightclub. *Genius*
 And then we had an extra ticket we couldn't get rid of. I seriously called every person I knew that might be able to go locally, then I plastered it on my Facebook for two days. Thankfully, a friend from high school *just happened* to see it on FB and said she would gladly take a free concert ticket. (For all of you who decided maybe you didn't want to go... you missed out. And Renee got to have the fun time you could have had).
OK. So the first band to play were the Architects. Now, I only know them in passing. I don't own anything from them and basically knew like two songs. They are a mix of rock-alternative-punk. Loud and fast, basically. They were ok.... but I don't know if I'd say I was a fan per say. Admittedly, all of their songs are about drugs or law enforcement (as they told the crowd) and it may have been the sound, but I couldn't understand a damn thing they sang.
 The second band was Neon Trees. Now, I wasn't impressed with their song "Animal" when it was on the radio. But then I got the cd and really loved the entire thing, even "Animal", which is weird. I have a better appreciation for the song once I heard the rest of the album. Anyways. They were EXCELLENT live and I really would like to see them do a full set.
 They even played my fav song of theirs "In the Next Room" which is SOOO good. I think I called my friend Matt and hopefully he heard it. :) But the lead singer is such a great performer. He was ALL over that stage and he worked hard for the money. The other thing I totally love is that he had a bit of a Tim Armstrong (singer of Rancid... a band every teenager should listen to at least once) thing going on. I have a thing for boys with mohawks and/or bald. Which coincidentally.. when my hubby shaved his head I wasn't impressed. So who knows. But punky boys... mmmm...

ANYWAYS. (*fanning myself*)

After Neon Trees came My Chemical Romance, who I've never seen live before so I was ubber excited. Kate has a bit of a crush on Gerard Way (the singer) and so she was super excited to see him, but more importantly.. this was her first REAL concert. Now, I was appalled that at age 25 she had never been to a real show outside of a college performance and as a die hard concert fan I couldn't let this continue. It's practically a social injustice. So I had to pop her concert cherry and that we did.

 And it was a great show. They basically played every favorite song of mine and then some. The crowd interaction was great, the crowd was amazing, and overall it was a fantastic concert. I pretty much lost my shit when they played "Mama" because omg... I love that song.
 We were probably some of the oldest people there, though. And to me it's weird because I don't feel old at all but yeah. When you are surrounded by teenagers with adult chaperone's.. you kind of stick out. But there was plenty of awesome people watching. First up there was a lady easily late 40's wearing a mini skirt that was um... pretty damn sheer for the bottom 1/3. *Please baby jeebus don't let that be me.* Then I noticed that a huge number of kids had the SAME My Chemical Romance shirt on. Seriously kids?? Did you all run to Hot Topic right after school and pick it up for the show? Did you? You badasses, you. And here's a hint- if you look like everybody else? You would be a conformist.
The other thing that should be noted was holy-fucking-god was it hot in there. I'm talking unbearable. Now, I like warm weather and I don't really sweat much. But yeah. I was fucking DRIPPING with sweat. Half way through Neon Trees I started feeling kind of woozy from the heat, and I had sweat dripping down my back. But the time we got to half way through MCR's set, my bra literally had a puddle in it, I had sweat dripping down my stomach into my pants, and the inside of my legs (clad in skinny jeans and knee high boots) were so wet I was worried it would look like I pissed myself.

Seriously- if it's that warm the beginning of April in there god fucking help me for the All Time Low show on April 21 and Death Cab for Cutie towards the end of May. Seriously. I might die. I'm also going to wear very little clothing to prevent heat stroke, self esteem be damned.

So yes. It was a great show, I'm glad that Kate got her first concert on, I'm glad Renee was able to grab the extra ticket and put it to good use, and I'm fucking tired. I barely made it home last night I was THAT tired. I am not a rock star. I don't know why I think I am but seriously. My days of driving 2.5 hours one way to a concert and back in the same night are numbered.

But Kate got some video, so if she gets it up on YouTube I'll let you guys get a little listen to it. :)

Don't forget.. I have my GIVEAWAY happening.. so sign up. Or be a loser.

AND.. if you have a question for Dear Sara.. hit me up bitches. sarastrand9438 (at) hotmail (dot) com. You can ask me a personal question or ask me for advice/opinions. I'm open.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Stuff... and stuff.

I'm going to promote myself just a bit (because I can and I will) and then tell you about stuff happening.

So today I got a few Etsy shop things done and listed because I hadn't had time the previous week so here they are.

Tangerine Friendship set of 6 cards with envelopesWith Sympathy DuoEaster Duo Cards with Envelopes

From left to right: The Tangerine Friendship set of 6. I totally love this paper and the flowers so I made a set for myself. I have quite a few notes to write to some friends and so these will be awesome. Then my new thing is doing card duo's, so instead of a set of 6 and the lameness of only buying one... you get TWO cards. So I have my With Sympathy ones because I seem to be using a bunch personally, and then the Easter Duos. I know not everybody is into sending cards for Easter, but I totally am. And the reason I did Easter duos is so I could send Easter pictures of my kids to the grandparents.. genius, huh? I might not get Easter cards to everyone this year but I never forget the grandparents and great grandparents. And $3 for two homemade cards is a steal, people.

So go to my SHOP and buy stuff.

In other news... I have the My Chemical Romance/Neon Trees/the Architects concert happening on Tuesday. I don't know if I'll have a post for you or not since I'm leaving Superior way early. We'll see.

Saturday we had Jackson's birthday party at the Children's Museum, and I'll share pictures of that soon. He had an awesome time. I was kind of bummed out that over half of the people I invited didn't come. Now, on the RSVP I specifically put "regrets only" on there because I know people hate to RSVP. I don't know why because it's RUDE AS FUCK NOT TO (and any person who's ever hosted a party should know that). The other thing was that I am basically paying for these people to get into the museum... so if nothing else, it's a free day for you and your kids. Like... take me up on that offer homies. I don't know. I'm just getting annoyed with people not RSVP'ing. So when I say "regrets only" I assume that you are coming if I don't hear from you. It's just really annoying to plan something and then have people not show up when you think they are.

I mean, the people who came are awesome and they are SO good to my kids and they are great friends of mine. They really are. And I think everyone who came had a great time and I know my kids did so that's all that counts. And my brother took his lunch break at a weird time so he could make a quick appearance- and Jackson was thrilled.

With that being said, yeah. Matt and I spent an HOUR trying to open his new things. He got some new little trucks, this interactive map toy, a cool truck that talks and he can "fix", bug catcher stuff, superhero flying plane thing, and our friends gave him a $15 gift card towards a big boy bike. So yeah. We couldn't afford to get him one (even though I really tried hard.. it just didn't happen) so this will help. I'm hoping in the next payday or two we can swing it.

Um.. what else. Oh. So last week was his 3 year old checkup and I sent Matt because I had to work. Well it turns out he hasn't grown (at all) in the last YEAR. Yeah. Here I was just thinking he's short and little. Um, no. He hasn't grown. He's in the 3rd percentile for height, 4th for weight and nobody knows why. He eats like a little pig for crying out loud. So what is happening is that he is going to the hospital on Thursday for lab work because his doctor wants to make sure that we don't have an underlying problem. So.. I'm sure it's all going to say he's normal and that in fact, he's just a little guy. But then in the back of my head I always worry something else could be happening. I'm sure it's not, but I'm a bit irrational like that.

OK. That's me and my Sunday ramblings. OH! Before I forget- I'm a guest blogger today for Kate and you should check it out.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How I was almost killed by Cujo.

For those of you long standing lambwhores, you probably remember my post about the big fucking dog who almost killed me but instead took advantage of me like a useless whore. And you would remember that I have a fear of dogs in general, but if the dog is smaller than a yippy dippy doggie, then I'm really scared.

Because I associate pretty much all big dogs with Cujo.

And not that I even watched that movie in whole. I think I made it like 20 minutes in or whenever the first of the rapid dog violence started and promptly shut that shit off.


So tonight, I stopped off at my friend Jen's house for a bit and somehow before I left I talked about the dogs in the 'hood and how some of them scare the shit out of me. We had a good chuckle and on my way I went. I was going to do my 1.2 mile run and then walk another 1.5 miles and be done for the night because I have a headache and all that. Ok. So I'm on my way.

First, I encounter punks playing with BB guns on the street. Fun. And also kind of scary.

As I get around the corner I start my run and I'm trucking along pretty well, noticing my legs are cramping up like a mother fucker and I'm wondering (out loud) if it's always going to feel like I'm going to die during the entire length of my run. And if that's the case, why do people do this for fun? What the fuck is wrong with them?

OK. So I make it maybe half way through my route and I see Cujo, pissing on someones wagon that was left on a sidewalk. My plan of action is always to not make any eye contact with the BFD's, (big fucking dog) and hope it doesn't follow. Obviously, that doesn't always work (see original story I linked to) but for the most part- dogs don't want to chase you if you don't look terrified. Looking terrified just ups the fun for the BFD I think. I have my sunglasses on, but I see Cujo and my blood pressure sky rockets. Cujo is huge. He's literally the size of the real Cujo and could easily use my leg as a bone. I keep running and when I turn a corner, I see that fucker is following me.

Obviously, I am not a normal person and I do not learn my lesson and so I start running faster. Literally, as fast as I can and trying to avoid pine cones and shit. Cujo starts barking furiously and growling (which is obviously loud because I can hear it over my iPod) and I'm like seriously going to cry because something about me says "let's chase her" and frankly? I'm getting kind of sick of it.

So I'm running and Cujo is jumping at me and I basically have no idea what to do. Out of NOWHERE this gross looking old guy (who I'm pretty sure is on the sex offender registry in my 'hood) comes up with a fucking dog treat and it turns out this is his dog.

I am appalled that this asshole is rewarding a dog with a fucking treat for almost mauling me. My pants are covered in slobber, I've got little red marks on my legs from where I was scratched and nipped, and I'm pissed. So I start raving about how we have god damn leash laws and if this fucker doesn't chain the beast up or put it down I'm calling the cops. You know what he says???

"Hey- don't you run past here every day? You look hot."


Not only was I almost mauled by a BFD but I was just hit on by a sex offender.

Clearly, I need to alter my route. Matt told me (as he's suggested previously) that he's going to get me a Neighborhood Survival Kit fanny pack that contains mace, a rape whistle, a weapon and some dog treats.

Ugh. So I've showered, put my clothes in the wash and put antiseptic shit on my legs. I *probably* need a Tetanus shot or something? I haven't had any kind of immunization since I was like 12. I'm now 29. So yeah. I'm probably due for a bunch. BUT I'm kind of a baby and I'm scared of needles. So.. death by lockjaw probably is going to happen eventually. That's if rabies doesn't get me first.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lowcountry Summer

I am convinced that in a previous life I lived in the South and was definitely a lady. Obviously... you wouldn't suspect that now, but it's true. So anytime I get to read a book about the South or just southern culture I do because I always identify with it and usually enjoy it. Such is the case with this book.

Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank
Lowcountry Summer (Plantation)
On the occasion of her 46th birthday, Caroline Wimbley Levine is concerned about filling the large shoes of her late, force-of-nature mother, Miss Lavinia, the former Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Still, Caroline loves a challenge- and she simply will not be fazed by the myriad family catastrophes surrounding her. She'll deal with brother Trip's tricky romantic entanglements, son Eric and his mysterious girlfriend, and go toe-to-toe with alcoholic Frances Mae and her four hellcats without batting an eye, becoming more like Miss Lavinia every day...which is not an entirely good thing.

This is a great story that really shows you the dynamics of a typical southern family who has class and the taste to boot. I did enjoy the story as a whole but in all honesty? Caroline comes off as a selfish bitch really. She's very much one of those dominating personalities that has to know EVERYTHING and has an opinion on EVERYTHING and if you are doing something she doesn't like or agree with- you will know it. She doesn't seem like the type of person who can genuinely be happy for a person if they are going about it in a way she didn't facilitate that.

A good example of that is when her son Eric has a new girlfriend. Here's a tip, parents. If you son/daughter is too nervous/anxious/scared to tell you that they are dating or who they are dating.... it's because they are afraid of your reaction and how you will treat this other person. Not a good thing, parents. You can't control everything and by all accounts, Eric seems like a well raised kid in the story, so in theory... she should have nothing to really worry about.

Anyways. I did enjoy the book, I didn't really like the ending with Trip, but other than that- it was a good read. I did feel like I couldn't really put it down for too long because the story was ever changing, there was always something new happening or more of the story developing. So in all- good read. :)

Please check out the other tour stops to get different perspectives on this book, too! OR, you can check our Dorothea's website or her Facebook.