Thursday, November 26, 2015

Beyond the Books: Thanksgiving

This Weeks Topic: Thanksgiving
Hosted by Kissin' Blue Karen

Hello all! I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving! Today we are headed to visit John's family. For our dish to pass, we are bringing a seven-layered salad and pomegranate-cranberry sauce. We are looking forward to family time as well as the Macy's day parade! What are your Thanksgiving plans?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Book Summery (Via Goodreads):
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

Book Review:
About this time last year, I read Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and loved it. Kaling brought a fresh voice full of savvy wit and honesty. So when I saw that she was releasing another book, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Luckily, my local library had an audio book version of Why Not Me?, which I lapped up greedily. Now here's the funny thing...I have never watched The Mindy Project. I only know Kaling from her appearances on The Office (one of my all-time favorite shows). So what then does Kaling's writing have to offer me? As I mentioned before, I find Kaling's writing refreshing. I love her unique, off-beat perspective on life. I find her priorities and overall lifestyle somewhat difficult to relate to. She's interested in romantic comedies, celebrities, and fashion...things that I wouldn't place as front prioritization in my life...and that's where I think the my interest is sparked. For whatever reason, I find her obsession with this lifestyle alluring and entertaining. Kaling takes me to another demention, one in which I enjoy rubbing elbows with celebs and hearing all the latest gossip, while carving out my legacy in Hollywood. It's a life I could never imagine without Kaling's particular perspective. To be fair, Kaling is also a rather intelligent person. I feel like this (more serious) side comes out most strongly at the end of this book. Overall, I feel that you get a diverse and entertaining perspective of Kaling's life in Why Not Me?. It's the perfect follow-up to Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? If you enjoy Kaling's brand of humor or are looking for something entertaining, but a bit different, I highly encourage you to check out Why Not Me?.

Cover Art Commentary:
I like the simplicity of this cover. The sleek, bright colors and simple lines. It draws attention to the author rather than the background.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Beyond the Books: I am most proud of…

This Weeks Topic: I am most proud of my kitties
Hosted by Kissin' Blue Karen

I know it sounds weird...but I am proud of my kitties. We raised these two since they were little fluffballs...about 6-7 weeks old, weighing barely over 2 pounds!

This little guy is Sharkey.

And this little orange one is Pumpkin, Sharkey's sister. 

They were the only 2 in the liter. 

They are always snuggling and curled up together.

They get monthly baths...which they've grown to tolerate, but not love.

They've grown into healthy, happy kitties. They're about 7-8 months old now and their personalities are really starting to develop and show. They love to play and snuggle. Sharkey always looks angry, but he's actually very sweet. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekly Round-Up: 11/8 - 11/14

Life This Week:
It's been a rough one. I threw my back out in my sleep of all things. The pain has been excruciating. So it's been rest, ice, and several trips to the chiropractor for me. This has not allowed much reading to get done. :(

Books Read and Reviewed:

Beyond the Books:

What I am Currently Reading:
(audio book)

What I Will Be Reading Next:


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Beyond the Books: Bedtime Routines

This Weeks Topic: Bedtime Routines
Hosted by Kissin' Blue Karen

 I wash my face every, night.
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 Then I apply face cream and brush my teeth. 
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I soak my feet ant put lotion on them, then cover them with fuzzy socks. 
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John and I snuggle with the kitties and watch TV. 
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Then I usually read until I fall asleep. 
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That wasn't too lengthy I hope! What's your routine?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Book Review:
Every now and again, there comes a book that tugs at my heartstrings and keeps me awake thinking about what I just read. Eleanor and Park was that book. It is going to be very difficult for me to talk about this book without rambling. No matter what, just read this. It needs to be read.

What I loved.
The characters. Park is a friendly, well-meaning person who initially tries to keep his head down in high school until he graduates. Well, until Eleanor comes along (we'll get to that in a minute). Park is into comics and music, well beyond into...dare I say passionate about?! Park is person who tries to do the right thing, and comes from a good family. Park's mom is one of my favorite characters. Park definitely takes after her in so many ways. Ok...I'll put the kabash on the rambling. Eleanor. Eleanor brings Park out of his shell. While she is somewhat a victim of circumstance, she wears her inadequacies like a suit of armor. While she might come across as aloof and defiant, she definitely has a softer-side that the reader gets to see. Eleanor is really into reading and eventually finds interest in comics and music. :) There are many ways that Park and Eleanor differ, but the most obvious is their family life. Compared to Park's loving and warm parents, Eleanor comes from a rather dysfunctional household full of abuse and neglect. You could make a strong argument for this environment being responsible for Eleanor's perhaps mix-ed up priorities and overall behavior.

Overall, Rowell takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotion. I do think it is important to mention that this story takes place in 1986, which I didn't see on the book summary, but it will help to place certain references and hopefully eliminate some confusion. This book swept me away from page one. I began listening to this as an audio book, which I highly recommend. But, I kept thinking about it well after I got out of the car. Luckily, John bought me a copy of this for Christmas last year, so I could read it in the house. Let me tell you folks. This book hit me hard. It will remain a part of me for many years to come. I can. not. tell you how amazing and moving this novel is. Just read it. It needs to be read!

Cover Art Commentary:
I love the simplicity of this cover. It just speaks to me on multiple levels. Am I making sense? I hope I am making sense.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Book Summary (via Goodreads): Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters

Book Review:
To be honest, I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up. I just know that it was a Rainbow Rowell book and that was enough to spark my interest. What I got was a complex fantasy based on of the fan fiction characters from Rowell's book Fangirl (Which is amazing. If you haven't already read it, please go do so now!) I enjoyed many, many things about this book, which we will get to shortly. However, I think there are a few things that prevented me from loving this even more. It felt like the final book in a series, without the series. I think I would have been more invested in the characters had there been a series to start with. Also, the pacing seemed a bit slow to start, but no worries, it doesn't take long to pick up!

The characters.
Simon is super friendly and already has a few close friends, but it's quite clear that Penny is his BFF. They make a great team and I love their shared scenes. Along with friendly, Simon is trusty and reliable. He does what he says, and he means what he says. His connection to the Mage seems a bit off to me. For being Simon's mentor, the Mage seems rather aloof and secretive. Like he's holding back from Simon. That gave me some trust issues. Penny is smart, friendly, and loyal. She makes a great BFF for Simon. Agatha was a bit of a wild card to me. She seemed more of someone I should like, rather than someone I actually liked. Finally, Baz. The main concern surrounding he a friend or foe. Despite several warnings, I had a soft spot for Baz. He just didn't seem to be this bad guy that his reputation had been built up to. Again, if there had been prior books, I may have felt differently.

I loved the overall theme of love conquers all! Because it does and should. I also thought that treating magic with respect and honor was a prevalent theme, as it should be. Finally, family doesn't have to have to be the family you're born with. Good friends make a wonderful family. Another good theme!

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It took a while for me to get in stride with the pacing, but once I did, it was difficult to set down this book. I would highly recommend Carry On to Fangirl fans and new Rowell readers alike. However, I would also encourage readers to read Rowell's other works as well. She is such an amazing author and while I enjoyed Carry On, some of her other books are even better!

Cover Art Commentary: took me a loooong time to realize that the blue and yellow are actually faces of characters! That's kind of cool. Otherwise, the cover definitely isn't as special as the story.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Weekly Round-Up 11/1 - 11/7

Life This Week:
It's been a busy one, but I got two books read, and hopefully the reviews will be up later this week!

Books Read and Reviewed:

Top Ten Tuesday:
None :(

Beyond the Books:

What I am Currently Reading:
Listening to: 

What I Will Be Reading Next:

The struggle is real!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Beyond the Books: Bad habits

This Weeks Topic: Bad habits
Hosted by Kissin' Blue Karen

1. Procrastination
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2. Putting Dishes in Sink and Not Washing Them
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3. Placing Books Down with the Spine Cracked
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4. Not Always Getting to my Galley's on time
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5. Over-posting Pictures of my Cats on Social Media

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1) by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): In that place where you're more asleep than awake any more, I hear something else. A phrase uttered in a child's voice, no more than a whisper: Night Night.
Something freaky's going on with Sunshine's new house . . . there's the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mum believes her. Sunshine's always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort . . .
If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can't help them?
As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

Book Review:
I wasn't quite sure what I was in-store for when I picked up The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. The cover was intriguing and the cover blurb made it seem like a good spooky story for Halloween. I knew nothing about the you tube series. After starting the book, I watched the first video and then stopped because I didn't want to ruin the story for myself. I started this out as an audiobook and was almost instantly hooked. Sunshine was easy to relate to and made a great main character. The author does a good job of narrating. I found it difficult to leave the story once I got out of the car. Luckily, I had picked up a copy of this book the last time I went to the bookstore. So it was easy to pick up where I left off once I got home. Honestly, it took no time at all to polish this baby off (between the book and the audio book). The story sucks you in. There's a great creepy atmosphere that builds as the story goes on. I found myself wanting to know more every time I picked this book up. The author slowly reveals answers, enough to whet my appetite, but not enough to answer all of my questions. There's so much more to this story that I'm dying to know! Overall, a great start to a series! I'm looking forward to the next one!

Cover Art Commentary:
I really liked this cover, it caught my eye immediately. I love the muted colors. The cover is clearly mid-scene, which makes you want to know more.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Reading Reflections: October 2015

Books Read:
The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black

Total Number of Books Read This Month: 5

Total Number of Books Read This Year: 55

Favorite Read:
A tie between:
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black

Highest Rank: 5

Lowest Rank: 2.5 

Overall Reflection:
I wanted to get in some scary reads for Halloween, which I was able to do, but I would have liked to get a few more in (always). The Accident Season and The Creeping were both somewhat of a letdown for me. I'm actually happy with the number of books I was able to get considering we went on our honeymoon and The Creeping put me in bit of a reading slump. I have high hopes for November!