Friday, January 31, 2014

Orphan Train --- Discussion

Oh my goodness! I loved this book! I am so glad we read it.  I devoured it in less than a 24 hour period.  Sorry, child.  I just couldn't get enough of the story.  I wanted more details, more story and it to go on and on.  I felt so badly for those orphans on the trains.  The way they were made into free labor and looked at in ways of how they could make the adults lives easier not how the adults could make the children's lives easier.  It's so sad too, that even in Molly's present day situation she also had the same negative experiences and how sad that it isn't even that rare.  Not to say that all foster families are like that, but they are not all perfect and loving either.  Children are not responsible for the emotional well-being of adults.  Adults should be responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of children.

1. In the prologue Vivian mentions that her "true love" died when she was 23, but she doesn't mention the other big secret in the book. Why not?

Well for one, a good storyteller doesn't give away the entire book/story in the first pages if they want someone to read it all!  Plus, she was reserved and uncomfortable sharing all her details.

2. What role does Vivian's grandmother play in her life? How does the reader's perception of her shift as the story unfolds?

She reminds her of the life she had.  She really built her up in her memories because those were her only happy times and she cherished them but it was interesting that as an adult she did seem to realize she had sent away her only son's entire family never to see them again and to an unknown future.

3. How did Vivian's first-person account of her youth and the present-day story from Molly's third-person-limited perspective work together? Did you prefer one story to the other? Did the juxtaposition reveal things that might not have emerged in a traditional narrative?

4. In what ways, large and small, does Molly have an impact on Vivian's life? How does Vivian have an impact on Molly's?

5.  When Vivian finally shares the truth about the birth of her daughter and her decision to put May up for adoption she tells Molly that she was "selfish" and "afraid." Molly defends her and affirms Vivian's choice. How did you perceive Vivian's decision? Were you surprised she sent her child to be adopted after her own experiences with the Children's Aid Society?

It was surprising after her experience, but it was also not so surprising.  She did know that babies were always wanted and she also had had SOOO much hurt/distrust and loss in her life that I don't know if she would have been strong enough to be a mother to the baby at that point in time.  I think maybe if she had known the truth about what happened to her sister she might have been able to do it.

6. When Vivian and Dutchy are reunited she remarks, "However hard I try, I will always feel alien and strange. And now I've stumbled on a fellow outsider, one who speaks my language without saying a word." How is this also true for her friendship with Molly?

7. Molly is enthusiastic about Vivian's reunion with her daughter, but makes no further efforts to see her own mother. Why is she unwilling or unable to effect a reunion in her own family? Do you think she will someday?

Here is a link to a pbs special on the orphan trains

A link to the Children's Aid society with more info on Orphan Trains

What did you think of the book? Did you like it? What was your favorite part? Something you didn't like?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

February's Menu...

As I was planning out what we were going to eat in February I was feeling very ruttish.  That normally doesn't happen but I'm sticking to the same few over and over again.  I remember when we were first married we ate a lot of stir fry.  To the point where I don't like to even think about putting it on the menu anymore.  I need some new relatively quick and easy dishes or ones that I can make ahead that are somewhat healthy.  Trying to do better at our dinner hour since I try for quickness during the week.

1st - Baked Potato Soup
2nd - BBQ Ribs
3rd - Chicken sausages and salad
4th - Fish Tacos (Any recipes that you recommend?)
5th - Pork Tenderloin in the crock pot
6th - leftovers
7th - Taco Pie
10th - Ravoli
11th - Cheesy Taco Soup
12th - Buffalo Chicken Salad
13th - Southwestern Chicken & Rice Skillet
14th - leftovers
16th - Chili
17th - Baked Chicken Quesadillas (Going to get a rotisserie chicken on the weekend and use some for this dinner and some for lunches)
18th - Beef Enchiladas
19th - leftovers
20th - Skillet Chicken Parm
21st - Pizza
24th - Skillet Chili Mac and Cheese (going to use turkey)
25th - leftovers
26 - Spaghetti
27th - out
28th - Pizza

I also have some lentils that I bought that I am trying to decide what to do with them.  Leaning towards burritos.  I've never cooked lentils before and it's giving me some anxiety on what the heck to do what with them!

Do you have a favorite crockpot recipe that you'd share? What about salads?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Morning Glory

You know clichéd lines that you read so many times that it makes you roll your eyes and think, "ugh, I can never use that because it's so overdone?"  For me that is the line, "I'd read his/her grocery list I love him/her that much!"  Now, I refuse to say that but let's be real, if I did say it, I'd say it about Sarah Jio.

She is one of those authors that I kept putting off and off because I wanted to savor them and not have to wait for a new one.  However, after reading two of them pretty much back to back I can't say that I'd suggest that. 

Her books follow a pattern.  Woman in present has some kind of problem.  Enter woman from past who also has a problem.  Then they have a lot of eerie coincidences and the person from the present finds out about person from the past.  And in the end all is good.  Yay.

I love books that mix past and present.  I love mysteries.  I do not love things that tie up neatly.  Morning Glory tied up a bit too neatly but beyond THAT I loved the story.  There were some things that just were too resolved and should have been left unresolved in my non-writer opinion but that did not make me hate the book.

"Some of life’s most beautiful things grow out of the darkest moments.”

It is a book full of grief and what if's and forging the life you want for yourself even though your plan has derailed drastically from where you began.  There is hope, there is strength and there is a lot of good thinking that comes from some beautiful writing.

“You know, things fall apart. You grieve. And then you sit around and wait for things to somehow get perfect again. But they don’t. They never can. There is no perfect. There’s just different. But different can be wonderful.”

Also, I kind of want to live on a houseboat for a summer now.

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Sarah Jio imagines life on Boat Street, a floating community on Seattle’s Lake Union—home to people of artistic spirit who for decades protect the dark secret of one startling night in 1959

Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street. She discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier. Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but little suspects that Penny’s mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge.

What is your favorite book that blends past and present?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

There are a few of my favorite links...

I haven't done one of these in awhile but I've been meaning to share some things I've read recently and decided now was a perfect time..

After this review from Boston Bibliophile I can't wait to check out Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie.

Here is the description: In Johannesburg prosperous whites live in gated communities; when they exit their cars to open the gates, car-jackings are common. But seldom is the victim killed, much less shot twice, like Annette Botha. Piet Botha, the husband of the wealthy woman, is the primary suspect in his wife's murder.

P.I. Jade de Jong fled South Africa ten years ago after her father was killed. Now back in town, she offers to help her father's former assistant, Superintendent David Patel, with his investigation of this case. Under apartheid, Patel, of Indian descent, could
never have attained his present position. But he is feeling pressure from his "old line" boss with respect to this investigation and fears lingering prejudice is at work.

As Jade probes into this and other recent car-jacking cases, a pattern begins to emerge, a pattern that goes back to her father's murder and that involves a vast and intricate series of crimes for profit.

I always found myself agreeing a lot with Katie over at Sluiter Nation in this post she made about discipline and her family. I'm not planning on spanking my child because really what does it teach besides it's okay to hit? And clearly when I feel like spanking her it is out of anger and frustration and a break for both of us is important.

Lisa's post about visiting Charleston made me sad that I won't be going there for Spring Break this year but it is still most definitely on our list of must visit soon places.

Reading the post, Language of Limits wanted me to put it into the hand of every parent I know.  And every parent that walks into my classroom.  It may be aimed at educators but oh my goodness, can parents benefit from the advice in it.  I swear the things I hear coming from the hallway as parents bring kids in or take them home makes me cringe.  Or what parents tell me to reassure me of their awesome parenting.  Double cringe.  We are all doing our best.  But perhaps we could all benefit from a few reminders on the best way to speak to children.  By no means am I perfect and by no means do I never raise my voice at my child.  I have many unproud moments but I keep trying.

Someone needs to make me these Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  Pretty please? I'll cook dinner if you back these.  OMG I NEED THEM!

Have you come across anything you need to share?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

February's Group Read...

Our February Group Read will be Labor Day by Joyce Maynard!

Description:  With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.

In a manner evoking Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy—and the man he later becomes—looking back at an unexpected encounter that begins one single long, hot, life-altering weekend.

This is also going to be a movie that is coming out on January 31st starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin!

Are you planning on joining us? The discussion questions will be posted on February 28th!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Last Camellia

I was so excited that I got two Sarah Jio books for Christmas.  I read The Last Camellia first and while I wasn't as IN love with it as I was The Violets of March I devoured it.  When I sat down I was instantly in the story and did not want to get out.

I really felt like I was in a scene from The Sound of Music when the chapters were focused on Flora and her time at the manor.  The children's mother died, the father was aloof and hard, didn't show love towards his family and they had run off nanny's and then Flora comes in and even though they might not be nice to her right away they fall in love with her sand she charms the father.  Sound of Music, am I right?

Then I equally felt like I was in an episode of Downton Abbey and was just waiting for the dowager to show up! With all the proper English ways and well I may have watched a few episodes right before reading.  But it definitely made me think that The Sound of Music was meeting Downton Abbey, in a good way. 

The book slips back and forth between 1940 and 2000 and is mostly set at Livingston Manor where there is sadness, a bit of mystery and possibly a most rare flower that flower thieves (could NOT take that part seriously) were after.  Speaking of the thieves, I just could  not buy into that storyline but, I also really don't care that much for flowers.  The narrators are Flora who leads the 1940 chapters and Addison who is at Livingston Manor in 2000.

I loved it.  I would LOOVE LOVE LOVE to read a novel about certain characters times after 1940 but if by chance you have NOT read this yet I won't say more on that.

I did read a few reviews they didn't care for the ending and while it still left a bit of mystery I felt it was hurried up to finish.

If you are looking for a new author to check out, I'd highly recommend Sarah Jio!

If you've read books by Jio, which is your favorite? Is there another author you are rarely disappointed with?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekly Recap

Monday - 15 minute walk

After work I was able to use our gym and get 15 minutes of walking in before I had to pick the child up from daycare.  This worked well because I wasn't exhausted and I could get some movement in before the utter exhaustion hit me around 7:30.

Tuesday - We went and signed papers on my new vehicle and I am now the new owner of a Chevy Traverse! I am so excited to ditch my itty bitty car that made winter driving one giant anxiety attack!  So, we didn't get home until it was time for bed-time routine and yeah.. I zonked out.

Wednesday - Books & Bars night so umm nothing again.  We had read The Ranger by Ace Atkins and met at a local bar to discuss it.  We spent very little time talking about the book this month because we weren't all huge fans but we had a lot of catching up to do and everyone that attended was a teachers so we had some commiserating about crap to discuss!

Thursday - Met my parents and some friends for the weekly 10 pizza and a pitcher of beer special sooo umm nothing again.

Friday - I thought about working out.  But instead made spinach ravioli for dinner and drank a bottle of wine.

Saturday - Swimming! Now this wasn't a hardcore workout as we were at my nieces birthday party, but I did spend some time swimming and pulling a 2 year old and did a few small laps but it was a workout.

Sunday - 2 miles on the treadmill

Forced myself.  Reminded myself about the beach in just over 2 months.  Must. Move. Body.

Clearly, if I want to make working out a priority I have to figure something out.  I just am too scared to make myself get up early to do it.  I am already so exhausted in the morning (been fighting insomnia lately) that I just don't want to start the day on a crappy note when I have to be ON the whole time with demanding students!  I did do very well with not snacking after dinner this week.  Only once did I have a treat, which was far better than my nightly snacks I had gotten in the habit of!

What's your favorite lunch to pack?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Looking Forward..

I haven't done one of these in awhile but Lisa inspired me to do one again!

This weekend... My niece's 1st birthday party! Can't wait for the cousins to be together and go swimming.  Should be a good time!

Next week... I have a work conference that I am excited about! I'm excited about learning new things and about networking and bonding with some coworkers and lets be honest.  I'm excited to spend a couple nights in a hotel room and take a little vacation from my day to day work/mom role.

This spring.... My 30th birthday/spring break!!! They happen within days of each other and I'm excited.  I have no reason to be excited about my birthday besides that I get ridiculously giddy about birthday's.  I am sure there will be no party/nothing spectacular but still, the possibility makes me excited.  Plus, 30 sounds so grown up! Not ready to accept my grown up card though!! Spring break means the beach.  The beach means the sun.  The sun means happy me!!!! SOOOO EXCITED!

This year... We are planning some family camping trips for the summer and I'm excited.  We usually go at least once for a week long trip with my husband's extended family but this year I begged him for us to go at least once a month in the summer and I'm excited to explore our beautiful state's eastern side.  Something we've rarely done even though we live so much closer to the sunrise side of the mitten! 

What are you looking forward to?

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I haven't done one of these in awhile and I'm a sucker for them...

reading - The Orphan Train

loving - Reading.  I've read some AWESOME books so far in 2014 and it's only January.  THAT makes me excited.

thinking - About a lot of things.  Spring Break for one.  Where are we going to stop? What are we going to do while we are there? What should we pack? Should I make a meal plan? And about getting a new car.  When are we going to go look for one?

excited for - a work conference I have coming up.

watching - Nashville.  Okay, so I lied just because I want to gush.  I caught up over Christmas break and OMG.  I love this show.  I'm so glad I am caught up again!!!!

sad - That there is so much 'crap' in my job.

working on - losing weight, getting excerise to be part of the routine and eating as good as I feed my kid.

grateful - for my mama

wishing - I could find a dream job that my education qualifies me for.  Or my experience.  I so wish education wasn't so expensive or that I didn't HAVE to take specific classes to renew my certificate and I wish I hadn't doubled myself so much when I could have made some different choice.  Ahhh..

What is going on with you currently?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Naked Came the Post-postmodernist

It's no secret here that I skim read descriptions and/or emails about books and then sometimes get surprised by what I end up reading.  When I was first emailed about this book the basic premise of the book got me first, because I do like a mystery, and then the thought of a whole class coming together to write a book together.  What would it sound like? Would it flow? I must check this out.

Then I got it.  And I started reading.  And I started giggling.  And then I started googling.  Okay, all you nerds aka Underhill types who already knew about this and think now I am supreme idiot.  Let it be known I grew up in such a small backwards place you should all be thankful I knew how to find the Internet.  Anywhoo, if you haven't heard of Naked Came the Stranger by Penolope Ashe, you may need to know that about 40ish years ago a group of writers came together to write THE WORST book ever as a joke and see how people reacted.

Now, I am not saying this is the WORST book because it is not.  It's actually quite entertaining and had me wondering what the next chapter would bring.  If you are looking for a murder mystery that doesn't have about 23434 different characters and narrators it isn't for you.  But if you like to read something that's a bit different while still having mystery and randomness check it out. 

I thought it was very good.  They did an excellent job writing and even though they were able to write whatever they wanted, some of it flowed.  The characters didn't do anything too out of the character already described by someone else and the writing wasn't so vastly different that you were confused.  I think my only critique would be that there not be so many extra participants.  It got a little crazy with all the characters.  But it was a very quick read (read it in one day start to finish! yay snow days!) and had me wondering how they were gong to end it.  The ending had me rolling my eyes in a good way.  You should check it out!

Description: Who killed Eric Davenport? A senior mathematics professor at Underhill College has been found dead in his office, the victim of murder. At Underhill, a small liberal arts college with a pricy tuition and a pampered student body, all of the students are close to their professors. But at least one loved Eric Davenport in a deeply inappropriate fashion. Some hated him. And then there is the faculty at war with itself. And the idiotic administration. And the twin boys who live next to campus. And what’s with all those praying mantises?

The collective work of Sarah Lawrence writing class 3303 - R, taught by novelist Melvin Jules Bukiet, here is a send-up of contemporary campus life that is also the latest installment in an inglorious literary tradition of wacky fun. And the mayhem hasn’t stopped. Soon, a student is found dead in the library, and, from the quad to the dorms, crime scenes and crises begin to multiply. A wealthy alumni donor becomes alarmed. Enter a libidinous medical examiner. Depicting rampant insecurities and raging egos, and with a cast of characters from conflicted faculty to student cliques, from hemp kids to Ugg girls and the J Crew crew, Naked Came the Post-Postmodernist takes us on a journey some may find eerily familiar. .

Have you ever had to write a paper/story with another person? How did you share roles? Does the idea of writing a novel with a group of people appeal to you? Have you read Naked Came the Stranger?

Disclaimer: I got this book for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

February's Group Read Suggestions

It is that time of the month! February is a short month so perhaps we should try to pick a book that isn't too long! Last February we read The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch. 

What we've already read...

Orphan Train
The Death of Bees
Liberating Paris
Life Sentences
Looking for Me
Ladder of Years
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
Beach Music
The Dinner
The End of Your Life Book Club
Still Alice 
The Song Remains the Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

What do you want to read in February? Suggestions will be open until the 18th and then I will use to pick a winner!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Weekly Workouts

So this is embarrassing...

Monday - 20 minute walk

I was still stuffed up today so I didn't feel comfortable running. Did a quick 20 minute walk on the treadmill with varying inclines and speed. I did get my 60 ounces in so yay. And extended my break by another day thanks to a snowstorm!

Tuesday - 2 miles on the treadmill

Starting with a warm up walk and then I did run/walk intervals.  Slowly doing more running than walking.  Another day off for RIDICULOUSLY cold weather and I somehow managed my 60 ounces still.  Seriously, almost harder than working out.

Clearly, going back to work completely wrecked my working out motivation.  But I have made a plan to fix this for next week.  I am walking after working in our gym for at least 25 minutes Monday and Tuesday this week.  Because I KNOW if I do it right after work but before I get the child I can find the motivation.  But, like I've mentioned before, there is not a gym in the town I work in/daycare is in so it makes winter things tricky.  But this way at least I'm moving this week!  And hopefully this week I will be able to get the energy for the night workouts again.

On the plus side during the work week I totally got my 60 ounces in.  The weekend? Was a bit harder.  Not all the way to 60 ounces.

The good news in all of this is that I've lost 3 pounds since I started focusing on improving habits! My secret not so secret goal of the week is to not snack after dinner.  I'm not reallllly hungry and I always eat crap.  So unless my stomach is growling for food I will not snack after dinner.  Just water or green tea.  And if I am starvvvving.  It will only be a clementine or a cheese stick. 

Have you every done Jazzercise? I'm thinking about trying out a class.

Also, if you could spare some thoughts today for my mom I'd really appreciate it.  She's having a procedure to remove the skin cancer that they found last month.  Fingers crossed that this will be the end of it and there will be no need for anything further besides frequent checkups.  I'm trying to be super positive about this because the alternative with the fucking c word is not fun.  Thanks!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Abduction

Ever get a book from a friend that they are done with and it sits and sits and sits on your shelves for 4 1/2 years and then one day re-read the back cover and wonder why you haven't picked it up yet? Or is that just me.. Anywhoo.. The Abduction by Mark Gimenez is one of those.  My friend gave it to me before she moved to Texas and it has moved multiple bookshelves in my home but never hit my hands until just recently.  It is also one of the books on my TBR challenge that I'm doing with for 2014.  Nothing like starting at the very beginning of the year, right? I WILL FINISH THIS ha.  My bookshelves need cleared out before the next used book sale!

Ben Brice lives alone in the New Mexico wilderness where he battles memories of Vietnam with oceans of Jim Beam. Miles away in Texas, his estranged son, John, an Internet geek-turned-billionaire, half watches his daughter Gracie's soccer game while conducting business on his cell phone. When her mother Elizabeth arrives, the coach reports that her uncle has already collected Gracie. But Gracie has no uncle--she was kidnapped.
From international best-selling author Mark Gimenez comes a terrifying thriller in which dark family secrets make the finding of ten-year-old Gracie Brice more uncertain with every passing minute. And so begins a furious race against time to save Gracie from unknown kidnappers. With the FBI camped out in the Brice mansion, the family offers a reward of $25 million. Somehow, Ben and John Brice must find Gracie before it is too late. As the story unfolds with riveting twists and turns, the reader discovers that behind the kidnapping is an extraordinary government plot that could change the course of American history. And time is running out....

This book is a page turner! There are new mysteries and new plots at the end of almost every small chapter. 

The book is broke down into hourly chapters and alternates narrators about the abduction of Gracie Ann Brice.  It's suspenseful and the characters make you want to know more about them and why they have the secrets they do.  I can't really say much without giving out the details but this is a great book to pick up and devour in just a few sittings (which is what I did). 

I must also be in a war theme since I read The Ranger, Something Like Normal and this book back to back. There are a lot of flashbacks to Ben's time in Vietnam and how his actions as a Green Beret may or may not be directly related to the kidnapping of his only grandchild.  He was an elite officer who was by himself imbedded with local Indian tribes helping them.  Lots of interesting tidbits Army life during Vietnam time.  Which may or may not be completely off base but I know little to nothing about that so who knows! It was fascinating to read.

Have you read any great mystery/thrillers recently? Do you know a lot about the army during Vietnam?


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Something Like Normal

I am so glad that I've found other reading lovers like me on the Internet.  They are a great source for finding new things.  And goodreads.  Thank goodness for goodreads.  I read the review for Something Like Normal by Trish Doller by one of those book loving friends posted and added it to my Christmas list. 

Description: When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

This book is awesome.  It deals with post-traumatic stress after a stint in Afghanistan that is all too familiar for many in the 18-21 year old crowd these days.  It's a current day YA book that touches on hard subjects with real characters.  Travis from before war sounds like a Travis that not many would probably like.  He's a typical teenage boy that does stupid things with a stupid girl because he can and says things because he can.  He lives a very entitled life but thinks he is doing good by wearing clothes from Goodwill.  So he has different sides but the sides most see are the stupid boy sides.

After war Travis is a lot better man.  He connects with his mother and a former classmate Harper and is able to ease back into 'normal' life with help from them. He is plagued with nightmares from his time in Afghanistan and his best-friends death. 

This book does have some kissing and rough language in it but I would find it suitable for highschoolers to read this.  I also feel like this is a YA book that adults can relate to as well.

I definitely recommend this one.

Have you read any fiction books about soldiers post Iraq or Afghanistan?  Have you read any YA books dealing with war?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

December Intentions: Results

What a month.  So busy with crazy at work, family obligations and of course the lazy that winter brings to our house.  I'm very glad that I had two weeks off at the end of the year/beginning of the year because my sanity needs it.  I think I may be taking this school year one month at a time.  I can do this!

To review my December Intentions were:

1. Read 4 more books for the year
2. Walk/run 20 miles
3. Do one Christmas related craft with the child.
4.  Throw/donate away one more garbage bag full of stuff.

1. Read 4 more books for the year
1. Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch
2. Princesses Behaving Badly
3. The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell
4. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman
5. The Ranger - Ace Atkins

2. Walk/run 20 miles

So I kinda bombed this one.  I barely made it once a week until over Christmas break.  I'm just having a hard time fitting it in.  I'm exhausted at the end of the day and I am NOT a morning person.  Like, I need to roll out of bed get ready, get child ready and walk out the door.  So I don't really know what I'm going to do about this.  I've had the most luck working out during the kid's nap but I'm at work usually during nap time soooo that's not going to fly. Ideally I'd like to do it before I pick her up from daycare but it's winterrrrrrr and I hate the outdoors and you know.  And of course the town I work in /daycare is in does not have a gym.  They used to have a Curves but even that is no more.  So I've got to make night time workouts a priority, even when I'm exhausted.
 3. Do one Christmas related craft with the child.

Woot.  We made a foam ornament that I forgot to photograph.  AND we made a gingerbread house AND Christmas cookies.  Which, I'm counting them as crafts too, because duuude.

4.  Throw/donate away one more garbage bag full of stuff.

So technically wasn't a 'garbage bag' but... I donated/sold a very full grocery sack full of clothes of mine and the child's.  Threw away about half of a garbage bag full of random crap from the office and donated a few books.

I'm not even sure I'm going to both with a January Intentions post because of my new/well old but new again weekly workout recap.  Basically, this month is making workouts in my life a priority.  Must become a habit.  Move move move!

Did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish in December?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January's Menu..

I will admit to being in a state of panic because I did not have my calendar in front of me and this done and New Years Eve was breathing down my neck.  I left my new calendar out of town so I had to make due with just plain paper to start with and I just can't deal.  I need my boxes and ahh.  And I also realized I don't have a stock of made a head frozen meals anymore.  Must get on that this month.  If we don't eat all the chili that is! ;)  Also, I realized that almost every Internet recipe I make is basically from Iowa Girl Eats .  If you haven't, you really should check that site out!

January Meals..
1st - Chili
2nd  leftovers
3rd - chicken salad
4th - Smoked Pork
5th - leftovers
6th - Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak
7th - Southwestern Chicken & Rice Skillet
8th - leftovers
9th - Chicken Sausages (something.. any ideas?)
10th - Pizza
13th - Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
14th - leftovers
15th - Fajitas
16th - Chicken Noodle Soup (homemade leftovers from November)
17th - Spicy Sausage Skillet
20th - Cheesy Taco Soup  (Seriously one of THE best things I made this year)
21st - Italian Beef Sandwiches
22nd - leftovers
23rd - on own
24th - on own
26th - Chicken Alfredo Pasta
27th - Leftovers
28th - Spaghetti
29th - Tacos
30th - Pizza

I'm not feeling really energized by anything big to make on the weekends this month.  That may change and I may whip up a batch of soup or something but I just don't know! I really could go a good pot roast and potatoes.  Yum!

What's on your menu? If you eat Chicken Sausages how do you like to do them? What is your favorite go-to side dish?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Weekly Workout Recap

I'm not even going to make excuses on why this comes and goes from my blog but it is staying.  At least for the next 13 weeks.  I have a big ole birthday coming up.. 30! And spring break!! I'm officially motivated to look smokin' in some bday photos because I WILL be celebrating A LOT and to feel pretty kick ass when I'm lounging on the beach in Panama City! Woot woot.  Here is my first week..

Monday - 20 minutes on the treadmill

I warmed up with about 10 minutes of walking and reading my book with some random inclines and then spent the next 10 minutes doing a run/walk combo.

Tuesday - 2 miles on treadmill

You have no idea.  I mean it, really NO IDEA, how easy it could have been for me to skip this workout.  I was tired.  It was freezing in my house.  I was finally alone and it was nap time.  But I did it because I told myself I couldn't quit on day 2! So I did it.  I managed to go a bit faster which is pretty pathetic in terms of running speed but it was faster than the day before! And even with a lot of walking because I promised myself okay, I said 2 miles but I didn't say what I was going to do.  So I walked a bit at the beginning and read my book and then I was like, okay time to haul butt and I managed to finish running a bit faster and do it in just over 30 minutes.  It felt good and I was a sweaty beast.  Success!

Wednesday - 155 crunches and 155 leg lifts per leg

I may have decided that champagne was a good idea after multiple beers and a glass of wine and a lot of Mexican food on New Years Eve.  Soo the idea of sweating made me want to cry.  And I had to clean the basement floor to be able to do the workout I wanted to do (Walk Away the Pounds 1 mile video, keeping it real cuz um New Years Day and all) but I spent all of nap time on the couch.  And then the Rose Bowl happened. GO SPARTANS! And then my husband had to go work on an end of the year project that wasn't done yet, so my helper wasn't here and it was almost 9 o clock by the time I had time to work out soooo.  I decided I had to keep moving because, my downfall is when I take a break in workouts.  So while the Fiesta Bowl started I did a variation of a variation of a workout I had found on Pinterest awhile ago.  So first I did 50 crunches then 50 leg lifts on the left and 50 leg lifts on the right.  Then I did 40, 30, 20, 10 and 5.  The leg lifts were killer but when I was done I didn't feel THAT bad.  And I went off to shower.  I got out of the shower and yeah, HELLO abs, you must still be there because now I feel you.  But, I did it.  I moved!

Thursday - 2 miles on the treadmill

So proud of myself.  I NEEDED all of nap time to be on my own so I told myself no ifs ands or buts my butt would be on the treadmill 3 minutes after the child went down for the night.  And I did it.  I didn't even try to convince myself to do less than 2 miles.  My abs hurt so good from yesterday which is good because I was afraid I may no longer contain abdominal muscles.  I did 7 minutes of walking than ran one minute, walked 4, ran 1, walked 3, ran 1, walked 2, ran 1, walked 1, ran 1, walked 2, ran 1, walked 3, ran 1, walked 2 1/2 ran 30 seconds and then walked 44 seconds to finish off my 2 miles. And I did it a full minute and 4 seconds faster than Tuesday! Woot.  And this is also because I started running way sooner.  I wanted to be done ha.

Friday -  Rest

I am so mad.  I was doing so well and I had every intention of working out but a 24 bug hit me hard.  I had planned on working out during naptime but I was freezing so I thought I would just stay under blankets and catch up on Nashville and have time before the football game started.  That was the beginning.  I spent all Friday night convinced I was never going to be warm again and finally puking later in the evening.  NOT FUN.

Saturday - Rest

Again.  I was on the couch all day with a headache.  It would not go away.  I had taken ibuprofen in the morning because my legs ached and I could not get comfortable and after some water and meds was able to sleep a bit and it went away. The headache? Not so much.  I spent 99 percent of the day on the couch.

Sunday -  Rest

And I thought FOR sure when I woke up and felt better that I could do at least a mile walk on the treadmill.  But just carrying the laundry up and down the stairs had me exhausted so I figured I still wasn't over the darn bug and I didn't need to make myself worse.  Here is hoping I can do it again tomorrow.

I'm really pleased with myself for this week minus the weekend illness that knocked me out.  My inner personal goal for the week was to work out every day and even though I didn't make it I am counting it because I did until I physically could not and actually felt bad that I couldn't and THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED.  SO progress.  This week I am continuing working out and my inner personal goal (ha posted on the internet) is 60 ounces of water.  My go to water bottle is 20 ounces and I suck at remember to drink when I'm working.  But I can do 60.

Did you workout last week? What do you plan on doing this week? Am I the only one who forgets to drink while working???

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Ranger

Hmm a fast paced book based in a small town full of corruption? Of course I'd give it a read.

Description:  Northeast Mississippi, hill country, rugged and notorious for outlaws since the Civil War, where killings are as commonplace as in the Old West. To Quinn Colson, it's home -- but not the home he left when he went to Afghanistan.

Now an Army Ranger, he returns to a place overrun by corruption, and finds his uncle, the county sheriff, dead -- a suicide, he's told, but others whisper murder. In the days that follow, it will be up to Colson to discover the truth, not only about his uncle, but about his family, his friends, his town, and not least about himself. And once the truth is discovered, there is no turning back.

You can tell this is written by a man.  The language and writing style totally give it away.  Not that it's a bad thing, but there are just some things that can only come from a man's brain. 

Quinn Colson's welcome back party to his hometown begins when he picks up a pregnant teenager miles away from anywhere.  He's definitely got the qualities of a good man but he's a man of little words and really does not show any softness.  He obviously cares about his family and cared enough to help out the girl but his Ranger training shows and he does not show weakness.  Even a possible attraction to a woman from his past doesn't show a clink in his armor.  He may like her, he may not.  You might not find out until the end if at all. ;)

What Quinn finds in his old hometown is a bunch of boarded up buildings and a nasty meth habit and a scummy old meddler trying to steal his family's land.  (What is it about someone always trying to steal someones land??)  The pregnant teenager keeps popping up and acting dumber than a box of rocks and keeps getting into worse situations! He totally goes all Army Ranger on the town along with his friend Boom who of course can handle recon and shooting at a bunch of meth heads with a missing arm that he lost in action.

Basically, if you like a quick fast paced thriller, pick this one up.  It's the first in a series so if you get hooked, there will be more!  I read it in a day. 

Can you normally tell if a book is written by a man or a woman? Are some ambiguous or can you usually always tell? Does it bother you?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Book Stats

How many books read in 2013? - 59 according to my Word list I keep, but goodreads tells me 60.  I can't figure out the discrepancy! So one or the other!

How many fiction and non fiction? 3 non fiction (Two were memoirs and one was a historical non-fiction) and 56 fiction! Which, I much prefer!

Male/Female author ratio? 31 females and 11 males

Favorite book of 2013? The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Least favorite? Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler and Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why? The End of Your Life Book Club and The Horsemaster's Daughter

Longest and shortest book titles?  Triptych, Kisscut Indelible, Fractured, or Undone all by Karin Slaughter and the longest was Call the Nurse:True Stories of A Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod

How many books from the library? 25 which is 7 more than last year!

How many books read did I purchase? 14 but 8 were used or on my bookshelf for awhile.  I only bought one impulse buy because I was in a middle of a series and the library didn't have it  The others were for book club reads.  These numbers are tentative because I have a horrible memory.  Give or take a few ha.

How many were gifts? 5

How many borrowed from others? 2 and it was the same person! Little Children by Tom Perrotta and The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton both books that I didn't looove.  But I'd suggest checking out Little Children

How many won through giveaways? 4

How many were given to me for reviews? 6

How many books read on kindle? Not a single one this year

Any re-reads? I re-read The Great Gatsby and Little Women.  Two old faves that I hadn't read in many years.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? United States, Germany, Israel, England, Amsterdam, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Antarctica, somewhere in South America, Gaza, France, Spain, Haiti, Mexico, Poland, Russia and probably more that I'm missing!

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation? The Book of Ruth, Where'd You Go Bernadette, and The Dovekeepers to name a few

Which author did you read the most of? I read a lot of the same authors but Karin Slaughter was definitely the most read since I got into her Grant County series!

What was your best reading month?

  1. The Third Victim – Lisa Gardner (July 6th)
  2. Last to Die – Tess Geritssen (July 9th)
  3. Notorious Nineteen – Janet Evanovich (July 11th)
  4. The Survivors Club – Lisa Gardner (July 14th)
  5.  The Killing Hour – Lisa Gardner (July 16th)
  6. 12th of Never – James Patterson – (July 17th)
  7. Someone Like You – Sarah Dessen (July 18th)
  8. Where’d You Go Bernadette – Marie Semple (July 22nd)
  9. Full of Grace – Dorothea Benton Frank (July 23rd)
  10. Silent Partner –Jonathan Kellerman (July 26th)
  11. The Almond Tree – Michelle Cohen Corasanti (July 28th)
  12. Wicked Business – Janet Evanvouch (July 29th)

What was your worst reading month?
I actually had quite a few months that were only 2 book months.  I'm trying to remember the size of the books but I think I'd say March, April and November have to make a tie.  Two books in each of those three and none of them were that big.  Just ruts and life craziness.

2013 TOP TEN Book Events in The Many Thoughts of a Reader's Book Life - in no particular order:

1. Reading The Almond Tree and the discussion that followed in book club.  I love my ladies!
2. Getting the opportunity to review some pretty awesome new books from different sources.  So thankful for that opportunity!
3.  Reading The Great Gatsby with book club, meeting at a bar called Gatsby's and then going to watch the movie together.
4. Introducing my daughter to Punk Farm.  She LOVES that book.
5.  Getting people at work excited to read books and giving out recommendations
6. Going to two used book sales at the library this year and stocking up on a lot of great books
7. FINALLY reading more than my goal of 50 books.
8.  Encouraging my students love of books/reading/retelling with the wonderful Pete The Cat
9. Falling in love with new authors
10. Being able to talk to others through this blog and twitter about what I love.... BOOKS! Thank you! <3 p="">
How many books did you read this year? What was a reading highlight? Best book? Worst book? Goal for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Sometimes I do stupid things like put off reading books that I will really enjoy because I don't really read the descriptions.  I did it again with Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. 

I love books set in the south with strong southern women, some hysterics and a crazy.  Why is there always a crazy southern belle? And why do I enjoy them so much? I think it started when I became obsessed with Steel Magnolias in my young days.  And um, why did my mom let me watch that movie? Anywho...

Anyway, it's the late 1960s and poor CeeCee is stuck up in Ohio with her mom who is stuck back in the last decade when she was crowned queen. And every day is a pageant for Camille.  The Goodwill keeps her stocked in new outfits that she showcases down the streets of their town mortifying CeeCee.

While the details on her mother are slim.  Like why and when did she lose her mind? What happened to her mother? Since it is mentioned later when her Great Aunt Tootie (Southerner's always have great nicknames!) comes to the rescue that Camille's mother stopped talking Tootie and their other sister over the decision to sell or keep the family business in the family.  Was she a tad crazy too?

This really is a great story and I loved all the different elements.  The civil rights aspects and just everything.  Loooooved it.  I want to read more about CeeCee!

If you've been as stupid as me, you really should go check this out!

Description: Twelve-year-old CeeCee is in trouble. For years she’s been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille— the crown-wearing, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town. Though it’s 1967 and they live in Ohio, Camille believes it’s 1951 and she’s just been crowned the Vidalia Onion Queen of Georgia.

The day CeeCee discovers Camille in the front yard wearing a tattered prom dress and tiara as she blows kisses to passing motorists, she knows her mother has completely flipped. When tragedy strikes, Tootie Caldwell, a previously unknown great-aunt comes to CeeCee’s rescue and whisks her away to Savannah. Within hours of her arrival, CeeCee is catapulted into a perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricities—a world that appears to be run entirely by women.

While Tootie is busy saving Savannah’s endangered historic homes from the wrecking ball, CeeCee encounters a cast of unforgettable, eccentric characters. From the mysterious Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in an outdoor tub under the watchful eyes of a voyeuristic peacock, to Oletta Jones, the all-knowing household cook, to Violene Hobbs, the loud-mouthed widow who entertains a local police officer in her yellow see-through peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

But CeeCee’s view of the world is challenged in ways she could have never imagined: there are secrets to keep, injustices to face, and loyalties to uphold. Just as she begins to find her ballast and experiences a sense of belonging, her newfound joy collides with the long-held fear that her mother’s legacy has left her destined for destruction.

Laugh-out-loud funny, at times heartbreaking, and written in a pitch-perfect voice, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a spirited Southern tale that explores the intricate frailties and strengths of female relationships while illuminating the journey of a young girl who loses her mother but finds many others.

What are your favorite books set in the south? Have you watched Steel Magnolias?