Thursday, February 28, 2013

exciting things are happening!

Hey guys!! Guess what? I am doing my very first guest post over at Girl Defying Gravity today! Jenn is a super fun girl with a great blog, and I'm so thankful that she let me take over her internet home today :) Go on over and say hi!!

Girl Defying Gravity

life is hard.

Hey guys, news flash.

Life is hard.

I know, right? Profound.

As I sit here writing this post, it is 2:30 am, and I am suffering from wicked insomnia, a cold, and a fever. Good times all around.

Tonight, my hubby asked me to stop acting like everything was perfect. To really tell him how I was feeling, because he could tell that my happy face was not genuine. I broke down and cried, and laid it all out on the table. 

I'm tired.
I'm sad.
I'm lonely.
I'm overwhelmed.
The house is dirty, laundry isn't done and bottles need washed.
And I should be a better mother/wife/woman and be able to handle it all.

I am super hard on myself, ya'll. 
(I blame Pinterest)

There are lots of us out there. The type A personalities, the perfectionists. What others don't realize, however, is that we lay awake at night thinking of what hasn't been done, literally losing sleep over laundry.

 Three weeks after the birth of my child, I created a weekly cleaning schedule for myself, to make sure I got all the household chores done. I came within inches of making a daily schedule for myself as well.

Hubby was not pleased, as you can tell by his nice little added note.

This list only proved to make me feel more inadequate, because I couldn't keep up. I was so frustrated by the fact that my body was not healing fast enough, and I couldn't do everything I needed wanted to do. There were days I was literally in so much pain because I had tried to take care of the baby, get myself cleaned up and presentable, made sure the house was clean, and had dinner on the table, and my body just could not keep up with my mind.

Who am I trying to impress with my organizational skills and spotless house? My husband could care less if there is a dust bunny the size of Kansas in the corner, or if we have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner 3 nights in a row. He puts no pressure on me. None. Zero.

So why do I make myself feel inadequate?

Why do I feel so overwhelmed by all these tasks I have created for myself, rather than enjoying this time with my baby, time that I will never get back? Granted, having a child changes your life. Like completely. It changes your body, your mindset, your relationship with your spouse.... and it can be a difficult transition. 

But I seriously need to start taking everyone's advice and cut myself some slack, before I end up in the loony bin.

So often, we as mothers/wives/women are held to this unbelievable standard. Heidi Klum walked the runway 6 weeks after giving birth, why is my tummy still poochy 2 months later? Jessica Alba uses only green, organic products for her children, and my dog just licked the baby in the face. The author of the blog I read daily is always perfectly put together, with fashionable outfits and perfect hair, and I'm still in my pajamas at  5:00 pm. 

Come on, ladies. Let's stop comparing ourselves to these unattainable standards, and start being satisfied with what we can do in a day. You never know what's going on behind the scenes... Heidi Klum probably didn't eat and worked out 6 times a day before walking the runway, Jessica Alba probably has a housekeeper and a nanny and has time to think about whether her diapers are environmentally friendly. And honestly, I'd rather spend time making my baby smile than standing in front of my closet, trying to figure out a cute outfit for the day or doing my hair.

The moral of this rambling, possibly incoherent 3:00 am blog post is that I am tired of trying to live up to my own unrealistic expectation of what a perfect wife and mother should be.

I am good enough.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

my birth story

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was obsessed with reading other people's birth stories. I felt like if I read about everything that had happened to other people, I would be more prepared when it happened to me. 

Every time I saw a new friend on Facebook had their baby, I desperately wanted to know exactly how it went. How long were they in labor? What did it feel like? Did they have any tips?

So, I thought that today, I would share my birth story with you. 

About 5 days before I went into labor.

Three weeks before my due date, a Sunday, my husband and I decided to try out a new church. We had been thinking about it for a while, and decided that this was as good a day as any to get started. We had a fabulous experience. The church we went to was positive, full of people our own age, and everyone looked like they were generally thrilled to be there worshiping God.

My husband was supposed to be off work, but when we got home for church an had just laid down for a nice Sunday afternoon nap, his work called asking if he could come in. Even though I really didn't want him to go, he felt like he should be a team player and help out (I think someone was sick or something). So he left, and I decided to proceed with the awesome nap I had planned.

About an hour later, I woke up feeling weird. I had some serious cramping, but not really contractions. I stood up, and whoooaaa.... pretty sure my water broke. I immediately called my mom, who lives out of state, to get her opinion. She told me there was a test they could do at the hospital to make sure it was the water breaking, and to just go and have it done to be sure.

(We needed to be sure I was in labor, because she and my brother would have to fly in, and they didn't want to book a flight if it was a false alarm!)

I called my husband at work, and told him what had happened. I said I wasn't really having contractions, so to just stay put at work until I had the test done and we were sure. Of course he didn't listen to me, and ended up meeting me at the hospital.

Sure enough, the results came in and my water had broke! The nurse told me I wouldn't be leaving without a baby :)

**At this point, a word of warning to all you pregnant mommas... any time you go to the hospital thinking you might be in labor, EAT FIRST! I hadn't eaten breakfast and had rushed to the hospital, so I was starving as soon as they checked me in, and of course couldn't eat. I was so hungry throughout the entire process that they could hear my stomach growling on the baby monitors!**

So they got me all set up in the labor and delivery room, and we waited. 

And waited.

And waited.

I never had a SINGLE contraction!! I walked the halls for hours, and even had a little booty shaking dance party in my room (hubby loved that), but never even a twinge.

Dance party in my stylin' non-slip socks.

About 12 hours after I was admitted to the hospital, the decision was made to start me on Pitocin to get the contractions going. It was about 2 am, and Hubby and I were trying to get some sleep. 

The meds got the contractions started, but they weren't really regular or strong, so we just continued to sleep through them. 

Around 7 am, the shift changed and the new nurse brought in the doctor to check me out. My doctor and nurse were phenomenal. They gave me the most amazing experience, almost exactly the way I wanted it.

To everyone's surprise, when Dr. Brown checked, she said my water had not actually broken! I had just been leaking amniotic fluid the whole time... so she popped the bag to get things going.

Let me tell you, ladies.

I was instantly in EPIC labor. Contractions started coming hard and fast, about 30 seconds apart. I had made the decision to have a natural birth, so an epidural was not an option for me. My amazing husband coached me through the contractions, and I controlled my breathing and felt like I was doing pretty well.
My rock. I would be lost without this man.

After about an hour passed, the nurse checked me and said I had progressed from a 4 to a 5.


All that work for one lousy centimeter? I started crying, completely overwhelmed, and could never relax enough to come back to my happy place, because the contractions were still about 20 seconds apart. At this point, I made the decision to ask for a little pain relief. 

I was given Stadol, and about a minute later, I was floating in happy la-la land. I remember that the contractions hurt, but I could have cared less. I was dreaming about candy land, and the Elf on the Shelf, and chocolate drops with Santa hats (I know... Stadol is serious stuff haha).

Even though I had originally not wanted to take any drugs and was pretty out of it, I think they really helped me relax and I went from a 5 to a 10 in about 45 minutes. 

When it was time to push, it was remarkably calm in the room, just the way I wanted it. I didn't feel the need to scream or yell, just focus intensely on the work at hand. Nobody was yelling at me to push, and it was just a very relaxed environment, which I appreciated so much. I only pushed about 5 times, and out came my baby boy! It was the most remarkable thing, and since I was still feeling the effects of the drugs, I kept asking my husband if this was really happening. I thought I had dreamed the whole thing, and that I was going to wake up and have them tell me I was still only 5 centimeters!

It had only been 3 hours since Dr. Brown came in and labor had truly started. Fast and furious!

As I held my beautiful boy, I couldn't believe he was real. He was so perfect and beautiful, and it was seriously the best moment of my life. 

Little D was jaundice and had to be on a bili-blanket for his first week home. My little glow-worm :)

The only downside to the whole incredible experience was the drugs. I really wish I had been able to refocus and do it without them, because about 2 hours after delivery, when the nurses got me up to walk around, I passed out. I had had a nosebleed during delivery, and lost quite a bit of blood. I was in and out of consciousness for a few hours while I was hooked up to IV fluids, and I feel like I missed out on a lot of baby D's first hours. 

But, once I was given the OK, we were moved into the postpartum room and began our lives as a little family.

Some people say that you forget the pain of childbirth, and that if you remembered it you'd never do it again. Well, I feel like I remember pretty well how much it hurt, but it was all completely worth it. I'd do it again in a split second if it meant that I could spend the rest of my life taking care of this sweet face.

My perfect little family <3

Monday, February 25, 2013

life of pi

Happy Monday folks!

 I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I have been trying so hard to finish just one book.. ONE BOOK! Usually that takes me about 4 hours, but finding 4 hours of uninterrupted time is scarce these days. I'm about halfway through The Twelve (sequel to The Passage) and it is AH-MAZING! I've had nightmares every single night about how I would evacuate my little tiny human child should a vampire epidemic occur. It's a tad scary.. but awesome!!

This weekend, I had my mystery guest (a post on that is forthcoming!!) and we had an epic movie marathon on Saturday, due to the monsoon outside. We ended up watching Life of Pi.

You know how I feel about movie adaptions.
But let me tell you, this movie was soooo true to the book. It was also breathtakingly beautiful, and I would recommend you watch it. AFTER YOU READ THE BOOK! 

Don't spoil the surprise ending by taking the lazy way out!

Book: Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Series: None
Pages: 326

This book is considered one of the classic novels that everyone must read. It took me so long to read it, however, because I thought it was about math.

I hate math.

Trust me when I tell you, there is no math involved, other than Piscine "Pi" Patel explaining his nickname. 

Pi is a teenage boy, living in India with his family. His father owns a zoo, and Pi grows up with the animals. He has a good understanding of animal psychology, and believes that animals have souls. 

Raised a Hindu, at the age of 14 Pi begins introducing himself to Islam and Christianity. He finds something in each religion that speaks to him, and eventually follows all three. When his father asks him why, he states that he "just wants to love God". 

One day, Pi's father tells the family that he is selling the zoo, and moving the family to Canada. They will take a Japanese cargo ship, because Mr. Patel will be taking the animals with him to see in Ontario, as he believes he can get a better price. 

During a violent storm, the ship begins to sink, and Pi is thrown into a lifeboat by a crew member while trying to reach his family. The ropes holding the boat break, and Pi is set adrift in the rolling sea alone. Just as he is floating away, a zebra leaps aboard the lifeboat, breaking it's leg. A hyena swims to the boat and jumps aboard, and the orangutan, Orange Juice, floats to the boat on a bunch of bananas. Once the storm settles, Pi realizes that the Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker, is hiding under the tarpaulin on the boat. So Pi finds himself adrift in the ocean, in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger. 

What follows is an incredible story of the power of faith, endurance, and the human mind. There is a serious twist at the end, one that makes you question everything you've learned during Pi's tale.

It is an amazing book, people. One of those that stays with you.

I usually don't recommend the movie adaptions of books. There is just something about reading a book, a movie just cannot compete with the richness your own mind can give a story. But this movie is breathtaking. It is completely true to the story, and gives such rich visual detail that it just enhances the story I already knew in my mind. 

So, read the book first, then watch the movie. You won't be disappointed.

I'll leave you with some scenes from the movie.

Friday, February 22, 2013

High Five for Friday!

It's Friday, folks! Who's got two thumbs and is excited for the weekend?

This girl.
Senior year of college. 80's party. Excited face.

1. I'm having a "mystery guest" this weekend! My husband told me only to have the guest room ready and someone would be arriving today at 3 pm. Talk about suspense! Who could it be?!?!

2. I cheated on Jillian Michaels with what were supposed to be bomb-tastic pancakes. One thing you should know about me. I suck at pancakes.

You can't see it, but the other side of these suckers are burned to a crisp. I ate them anyway.

3. One of my husband's co-workers sent him home with a big ole bag of books for me!! I am so freaking excited. 

4. I took Bruno for a walk yesterday, and it appears that all is forgiven. He slept on the floor on my side of the bed all night :)
I'm so glad we have matching forehead wrinkles.

5. This happened.

If that doesn't start your weekend off with a bang, I don't know what will!

Linking up with Lauren @ From My Grey Desk!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

jealousy, thy name is bruno

My dog hates my baby.

There! I said it.

My husband swears this is not the case. He says that Bruno just needs more attention, he feels under-appreciated (does he contribute? should I appreciate his ability to sleep for 15 a hours a day on MY couch?), he just needs a little more affection.

Now, you have to understand. Bruno is going on 10 years old, and was the most spoiled rotten dog you have ever seen before D came along. He slept in bed with us, laid on the couch at night watching TV with us, and got a walk every. single. day.

Fast forward to now and he's lucky if I remember to feed him every day. I'm totally kidding... sort of.

I realize that I have probably been slacking in my fur-mommy duties, but it's just one more thing to add to an already super long list of things I have to do each day. 

Today Bruno made his feelings known. I decided to let him up on the bed to snuggle with me and D this morning. This is usually not an issue, as he just curls up and falls asleep.

Not today, people.

He came over to little D, lying there all happy and wide eyed, and promptly SWATTED AT HIM WITH HIS HUGE DOG PAW!!!

Oh my goodness, I almost died. After the screaming and yelling died down, and Bruno had run away with his tail tucked, I realized that my (very smart) husband may be on to something with this jealousy thing. 
So, I'm going to try to forgive and forget (since the baby was just fine) and start paying more attention to the little fur baby.

Bruno's life pre-baby:
In our bed. With his butt on my pillow.

It's a dog's life.

The day I went into labor. It's like he knew what was coming.

He likes to adjust pillows until he's comfortable.

He loves the beach, as do I.

Bruno's life post-baby:

He's hiding behind the Eeyore style.

I forgot about him outside in the snow. He was not happy.

So, maybe husband has a point. I should probably spend a little more time with the furry love in my life.

He is pretty cute.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

a great and terrible beauty

I've got a review of a great book for you today, but first, let's talk parenting.

Baby D had his 2 month checkup on Monday, and I got a ridiculous amount of information thrown at me. The one thing the doctor said that I'm having a seriously hard time with is not to rock D to sleep at night or for naps. She said to put him down in his crib when it's time to sleep, and let him "fuss it out" until he learns to self-soothe.

Now, I'm all for a little self-soothing. I don't want to have to rock my 16 year old before bed every night. But, come on people! He is TWO MONTHS OLD! 

And besides, who doesn't like a little cuddling before bed?

Seriously, could you deny this face a little cuddle?

You should know that he is a champ at sleeping. He's sleeping through the night most nights, from about 10 pm to 5 am, so we are obviously doing something right.

I really don't see how something as simple as rocking the sweet baby for 5 minutes before his nap can cause detrimental effects down the road.

But hey, I don't have an M.D.

What about you? What is your opinion on the "cry it out" method?
Because I pretty much think it's for the birds. I'll rock my baby just as long as I can, thank you very much.

And now, onto the books!!!

Book: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Series: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy
Pages: 403

I read this book many years ago, and it's one that I could read over and over again. It is told from the perspective of Gemma Doyle, a 16 year old English girl who was raised in India. On Gemma's 16th birthday, she sees a vision of her mother being mysteriously murdered in the marketplace, and only a few moments later it comes true. 

A mysterious boy named Kartik, a member of an ancient order called the Rakshana, finds Gemma in the marketplace and warns her that she must close her mind to these visions, or horrible things will happen.

With her mother dead, and her father developing an addiction to laudanum, Gemma is shipped off to England to attend Spence Academy, a harsh and unwelcoming boarding school. 

There, her visions continue to grow, until one night they lead her to the caves behind the school, and she stumbles upon a diary written many years earlier by someone named Mary Dowd. Mary writes about experiencing the same types of visions as Gemma, and of something called the Order, a powerful group of women who possessed special powers. 

Gemma and her new found friends Felicity, Pippa, and Ann begin to play around with the rituals in the diary, never thinking it might actually work, until one night, they open a door between realms and stumble upon a more magical world than they could possibly imagine. 

But there are those who do not want them to possess such power and magic, and it becomes increasingly more dangerous for them to visit the realms.

Maybe this book appeals to me so much because, let's face it. What young girl didn't dream of possessing magical powers and being able to influence the world around her? I'm also fairly sure I was born in the wrong century, and would love to have lived in the 1800's (minus the whole "women are lesser beings" shenanigans)

Overall, it is an extremely entertaining book that will have you dying to continue the series;
book two is Rebel Angels and book three is The Sweet Far Thing.

Let me know if you enjoy this book!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

sexy westerns

That title got your attention, right? Well, if you're hoping for a review of a sexy story set in the Wild Wild West, you will be disappointed today. 

When I was younger, my Grandpa used to read all the time. He would read paperbacks, like Louis L'Amour and Harlequin Romances; you know, the kind of book where you really don't want anyone to see the cover, because it is just that embarrassing.

The epitome of a "sexy western"

My younger brother, when he was 5 or 6 years old, took notice of these covers and starting asking my Grandpa all the time what he was reading. He would always give some kind of vague answer, until one day, my brother decided he knew exactly what they were. He dubbed them "sexy westerns", and it was so hilarious that it became a running joke in my family. Any book that is a tad embarrassing, something of a guilty pleasure, is to this day called a "sexy western".

So, I give you a few of my personal favorite sexy westerns, complete with cover art, so you can see exaaactly what I'm talking about!

The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison- Book #1 is Dead Witch Walking

The Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost- Book #1 is Halfway to the Grave

The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs- Book #1 is Moon Called

The Women of the Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong- Book #1 is Bitten

If you are looking for some quick, light reading, then these are great supernatural series to get started on! 

(You may just want to buy them on your e-reader.... no embarrassing cover art to worry about!)

Monday, February 18, 2013

the casual vacancy

Happy Monday, Everyone!
I hope you are all enjoying this President's Day. Federal holidays don't mean much when you don't have a job to go to or kids to get to school, so it's just been business as usual for us today.


My poor baby had to have 3 shots today!
Any mother can tell you how upsetting it is to watch their child be in pain, but let me tell you. I was feeling violent towards that nurse. I know she was just doing her job, and I know she was probably as gentle as she could be, but when she jabbed that needle into that chunky little baby thigh, I imagined myself judo chopping her.

And when baby D's eyes shot open in surprise, his faced turned red as he screamed bloody murder, and he looked at me with the, "How could you do this to me, Mommy?" face, I had to literally restrain myself from going Kill Bill on this woman.


Now that you all know how incredibly violent my inner dialogue is, let's get to the book review!!! :)

Book: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Fiction, Tragedy
Series: None
Pages: 503

This is the highly anticipated "adult novel" by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series (if you don't know that, then welcome to Earth, little alien). 
If you thought this book was going to be similar to Harry Potter, you will be sorely disappointed. 

The story is set in the parish of Pagford, a tiny little town in England. The fact that it is set in England is where any Harry Potter similarities disappear.

Barry Fairbrother is a councilman on the Parish Council, a highly sought after position in Pagford. When he suddenly drops dead (not a spoiler, it happens in the first chapter) the council is left with what's known as a casual vacancy
What follows is a campaign of various families in Pagford for that council seat. These citizens are not above backstabbing, lying, and cheating to make sure their candidate gets the position. 

Here is an excerpt:

The news of Barry Fairbrother's sudden demise lay in her lap like a fat new baby to be gloated over by all her acquaintances; and she would be the fount, the source, for she was first, or nearly so, to receive the news.
None of the delight frothing and fizzing inside Shirley had been apparent while Howard had been in the room. They had merely exchanged the comments proper to sudden death before he had taken himself off to the shower. Naturally Shirley had known, as they slid stock words and phrases back and forth between them like beads on an abacus, that Howard must be as brimful of ecstasy as she was; but to express these feelings out loud, when the news of the death was still fresh in the air, would have been tantamount to dancing naked and shrieking obscenities, and Howard and Shirley were clothed, always, in an invisible layer of decorum that they never laid aside."

As you can see, the style of writing is a bit more verbose than we are used to seeing in the Harry Potter series; perhaps Rowling was trying a little too hard to appeal to an adult audience?

My take on this book is that it is extremely petty (as you can most likely tell from the excerpt). Every character is obsessed with themselves to no end, and that all comes to a head in the last chapter, when a completely avoidable tragedy occurs. If the characters had only taken their heads out of their own ass, the book would have had a totally different ending, one I probably would have enjoyed more. 
When I finished this book, I was left feeling like it was all just a waste. The ending is NOT what you'd expect, and I almost felt like I had wasted my time. 

Sooo not what I expected from Ms. Rowling.

However, the question has been posed, "Is it always the failure of the author, if we don't like the book? Or sometimes, could it be our failure as a reader?"

Um, no. 

The point of reading is to enjoy it, if I'm not mistaken. This book made me want to judo-chop J.K. Rowling.

(I just want to judo-chop everyone today)

So my recommendation for this lovely novel is a big, fat, NO!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

date a girl who reads

I feel the need to share this quote with you. It has been attributed to Robert Pattinson, but I don't know if I can quite picture this coming out of his mouth. All I know is, my hubby showed me this quote and said it made him think of me. *cue ridiculous hormonal tears*

"If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 am clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She'll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are. Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you're better off alone.
If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads."

Need a tissue?

I'm never far away from a book :)

And on that note, my friends, I'm off to read :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

the passage

I hope you enjoyed this wonderful Saturday! We got a rare snow, which was beautiful and made me sooo happy. That's the one downside to living by the beach... winter weather is scarce!

Today's book is The Passage by Justin Cronin. This book was recommended to me by my dad. We share similar interests as far as our reading preferences go, so generally speaking, if he recommends it, then it must be good. (I can't say the same for me... he's not too impressed with The Bronze Horseman. Too much emotion for a dude? If the gagging and eye-rolling are any indication, probably so :)

Book: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Series: The first in a planned trilogy
Pages: 771

This book begins in 2014 and details the beginning of a global apocalypse. A group of scientists in South America stumble across a species of bat carrying an extremely deadly virus. That virus makes it's way into the hands of the American government, who obviously begin experimenting on how to utilize it as a weapon (because really, doesn't creating a whole bunch of crazy vampires sound like the smartest idea?).  
Their test subjects are twelve convicted murderers and rapists, all waiting for sentences to be carried out on death row. The virus changes these men in unexpected ways. They become superhuman, animalistic, with a thirst for human blood.

The vampires in The Passage do not sparkle.
They do not "vant to suck your blaaaaad".
They do not run night clubs in Louisiana.

Yeesh. Now that is a terrifying sight.

These vampires will rip you limb from limb and devour the flesh from your bones with mindless abandon.
*Hungry yet?*

When the test facility is breached and the virals are set loose, they set off a global pandemic. The world, for all intents and purposes, ends.

Fast forward ninety years.
Colonies of survivors are trying to make it day to day in a world completely devoid of humanity. They must live under the glare of bright lights nightly, just to ward off the virals that lurk in the dark. They have not had any contact with anyone else in years and years, and they believe they are the only humans left.

The only hope for the survival of humanity is one very special young girl, infected with a strain of the virus that leaves her functioning as a human, with heightened senses and abilities. 

People, let me tell you. This book is AWESOME. It is what I think the world would actually be like if a vampire epidemic spread across the country (yes, I spend time thinking about these things).
It is a fairly lengthy read, but I feel like this is necessary to tell all the facets of the story. Each story line is vital, and the author does not skimp on plot twists and character development. 

I devoured this book in a matter of hours. Like a bloodthirsty, maniac, serial-killer vampire.
Too much? 

The story behind the beginning of this novel is adorable. Justin Cronin began writing when his daughter asked him to write a story about a girl who saves the world- love that.
The book debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List, and was called "one of the creepiest books of 2010". 

It is an absolute must read. It is the first in a planned trilogy; the second book is called The Twelve (I'm starting it excited!!) The third book, called The City of Mirrors, is set to be released in 2014.

Let me know what you think of this book!

Friday, February 15, 2013

the bronze horseman

This review is of one of my favorite books of ALL TIME. One of my good friends recommended this book to me, and it took me a while to get around to reading it. I honestly can't believe I waited so long. This book will change your life.


Book: The Bronze Horseman
Author: Paullina Simons
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Bronze Horseman trilogy
Pages: 810

You know how every once in a while, a book comes along that you fall head over heels into? You walk around in a fog for days on end because you can't fully separate yourself from the story. You are emotionally unstable because you are so fully invested in the outcome of the character's lives.

This is that story.

This is the most epic romance I have ever read. It is not a lovey dovey, everything turns out perfectly in the end, neatly packaged love story. No, this is a nitty gritty story of real love. The kind of love that perseveres through wars, the passage of time, and even across oceans. The kind of love that is tumultuous, painful, and raw. 

Tatiana is a young girl in Leningrad, sitting on a bench eating an ice cream cone, when she happens to glance up and see a handsome soldier in uniform. She feels drawn to him, and crosses the street to meet him. Crossing that street changes the course of so many lives.
Alexander and Tatiana have an instant connection. After a magical day together, they part ways. Tatiana heads home to her overbearing family, and Alexander back to the barracks. 
Their worlds are forever changed that evening, as the radio broadcasts a dire message: World War II has begun.

If you are prepared to lose yourself totally and completely for a few days, then read this book. If you want your life to be forever changed by a profound love story that spans decades, then read the whole series.

Be prepared. Seriously. 
Don't say I didn't warn you!

You can buy the book here right now for only $1.99!!
Book Three: The Summer Garden

Dying for more? Paullina Simons is in talks to make it a movie! Read here article here about the journey to making Tatiana and Alexander a cinematic reality, and her dedication to making sure the characters and story are done justice.

High Five for Friday!

Today I'm linking up with Lauren over at From My Grey Desk blog for my first ever High Five for Friday! Every Friday, Lauren hosts a link-up for your top five best moments of the week! I've been reading her blog for a while, and I'm excited to finally participate!


1. Obviously, one of the best things about this week was finally getting up the courage to start this blog! I've been tossing the idea around in my mind for a while now, and I'm so glad I finally did it!

2. Valentine's day was extra special this year, as I had not one, but TWO Valentines!! My adorable hubby bought me my first pair of Toms, and I got to snuggle with my sweet boy all day. Who could ask for more?

3. I started Jillian Michael's fitness DVD, "30 Day Shred". I've heard that people have had amazing results, so I'm super excited! Hopefully, 28 days from now my pre-pregnancy pants will fit *fingers crossed!*

4. My first book review! I hope it was informative and helpful. If you have any tips for making my reviews better, please let me know!

5. The weather is an absolutely beautiful 70 degrees today, and yet they're calling for snow on Sunday. I'm okay with either option, really :)

How was your week?

the night circus

Hello everyone! I hope you had a marvelous Valentine's Day filled with love and candy. I brought out the big guns and cooked us the most gourmet meal I've attempted to date. 

Don't be intimidated. You too, can make heart-shaped grilled cheese and chips and salsa, if you just believe in yourself.

I spent the day with this adorable little Valentine. Couldn't you just eat him up?!

And now, on to the good stuff. Our book today is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This lovely story is actually the February book for my book club! Excitement all around. So, without further ado, here we go!

Book: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Mystery/ Paranormal
Series: None
Pages: 384

I had never heard of this book until it popped up as the book of the month for book club, and boy, was I missing out! The story takes place within a traveling circus filled with mystery and intrigue. The circus only opens at night, with acts not found in your typical circus.. 

I don't even know where to begin to give you a synopsis of this story. It is so involved, with twists and turns, going back and forth between future and present, and multiple story lines occurring at once. That is not to say, however, that the story is confusing. It's easy to follow, but throws for you for a loop more than once. 

Celia Bowen, the daughter of the great magician Prospero, is entered into a game by her father at a very young age; a game she knows nothing about. The rules are not explained, nor the venue given. She knows only that she will have an opponent, and they will each try to out-perform the other. 

Marcus Alisdair is plucked from an orphanage by a mysterious man, told only that he will be involved in a game. He is trained, in isolation, for the next 10 years to prepare. He does not know when his opponent will present himself, or where; only that he must be prepared. 

This book was like nothing I've read before. The sensory experience that the author provides is amazing; you can smell the popcorn and caramel apples, hear the murmurs of delight among the crowd, and feel the rush of air as a whip is cracked. 

Below is an excerpt from the book:

First, there is a popping sound. It is barely audible over the wind and conversation. A soft noise like a kettle about to boil for tea. Then comes the light.
All over the tents, small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. The waiting crowd quiets as it watches this display of illumination. 

Someone near you gasps

. A small child claps his hands with glee at the sight. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears. 
Stretched across the top of the gates, hidden in curls of iron, more firefly like lights flicker to life. They pop as they brighten, some accompanied by a show of glowing white parks and a bit of smoke. The people nearest to the gates take a few steps back. 

At first, it is only a random pattern of lights. But as more of them ignite, it becomes clear that they are aligned in scripted letters. First, a C is distinguishable,  followed by more letters. A q, oddly, and several e's. When the final bulb pops alight, and the smoke and sparks dissipate, it is finally legible, this elaborate incandescent sign. Leaning to your left to gain a better view, you can see that it reads:

Le Cirque des Reves

The Circus of  Dreams

I know, right?! Doesn't it make you want to drop what you're doing and go read this book?

Come to think of it, that's an excellent idea.

Buy it here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

beautiful creatures

We are starting this blog off with a bang! I am going to dive right into my first book review.

All opinions are my own, I received no compensation, yada yada yada :)

In honor of the release of the movie today, I am going to talk about the book Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Book: Beautiful Creatures
Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Series: Caster Chronicles
Pages: 563 (according to my kindle app)

I was very excited about reading this book, since I do love a good paranormal story. I actually became interested in this book because of the trailer for the movie, which almost never happens. I am one of those who thinks a movie can never do a book justice (the only exception: A Walk to Remember- the book was horrible compared to the movie adaption). But it looked interesting, and that's usually all it takes to get me to read a book.

The story is set in fictional Gatlin, South Carolina, a small southern town filled with small southern minds. The main character is a 16 year old boy named Ethan; he's popular, on the basketball team, but has recently lost his mother and his father is in a grief-stricken stupor. He's bored and tired of the same old routine in Gatlin when a mysterious new girl arrives in school. Her name is Lena Duchannes (doo-can), and she is the niece of the town's mysterious recluse, Macon Ravenwood. Ethan is instantly smitten with Lena, regardless of the opinions of his family and friends. Lena is considered an outsider, not from Gatlin, and therefore, dangerous. Little do the townspeople of Gatlin know that Lena is far more dangerous than they think. She comes from a family of casters, and her sixteenth birthday is looming in the distance.

 What will happen? 

Will she fight to remain Light, or be claimed for the Dark, as she fears?
 (I totally read the last two sentences in my mind in a deep movie announcer voice. Feel free to do the same)

This book reminded me quite a bit of Twilight. 

Before you groan and roll your eyes, know that I thought Twilight was a pretty good series until Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson ruined the characters forever (Does she have more than one facial expression? Sheesh). 

In my humble opinion, this book could have been a lot better than it was. I found myself getting bored halfway through. The story started becoming redundant, with waaaaay too much emphasis placed on the lovey-dovey stuff and not enough on the character development of the bad guy.

There's this huge countdown to Lena's birthday, because something horrible may happen. I found myself thinking, "who cares? can something interesting please happen?"

Now, this could be entirely because I am getting too old for teenage romance stories.

At 25 years old with a baby, a husband, and laundry piling up all around me, I simply find it difficult to relate to a 16 year old falling in love for the first time. Shocking, I know. Maybe this should be a sign that I read more grown up books?


I digress. My final opinion of Beautiful Creatures is that it is a decent book without a lot of plot or character development. This may because there are two writers, but I don't know. I would suggest reading this book only if you have nothing else on your reading list. It wasn't awful, but certainly was not great. 

Perhaps the movie will be better?
 Someone will have to let me know, since going to the movies is nowhere in my immediate future (with a 2 month old, and all).