Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just Read!

Not Exactly a Love Story
By Audrey Couloumbis

4/5 coffee beans

Flashback to young love with this entertaining and fast read. See the full review, here

My top 10 YA reads for your holiday reader

There are so many good YA books out there that I’ve read (and PLENTY that I haven’t), it’s hard to pick just ten. But I’m going to try. Here’s a list of my top ten YA books (in no particular order) and why I liked them so much. They’ll look great wrapped and under the tree for the book lover(s) in your life (or yourself!)

  1.     .    Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein A historical fiction piece about the bonds of love and friendship set during World War II, this book reaches down deep to wrench out your heart. The writing is superb and the voice is sharp and fresh. An all around good book. Rating: PG-13 for scenes of mild torture. Find my review, here.
  2. 2.       The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa Dystopia, kick ass girls, great writing, and vampires. PERFECT COMBO. I’m a fan of Julie Kagawa and this is the book that got me membership. Vampires rule the cities and keep humans like cattle. Everyone is registered or you don’t eat. Which is why Allison is on the verge of death, refuses to do so and ends up becoming what she hates the most. The writing is sharp, engaging, witty, and captivating. If you’re a fan of dystopians and vampires, go there. Rating: PG for some awesome violence. Find my review, here.
  3. 3.       Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard This book made me want to sell everything I own, leave everything behind and have adventures while traveling the world (if I were 18, that is). Almost poetic in the way she writes, Kristen paints pictures and creates such an enticing experience for the reader. Rating: PG. Read the full review, here.
  4. 4.       The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson Do you all REALLY need me telling you AGAIN how much I loved this book? It really is a coming of age story about a girl who finds out who she really is and what she wants to become after her sister dies. It’s about love, and death, and living. And the writing is absolutely beautiful. Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality. See the review, here.
  5. 5.       Divergent (and the sequel, Insurgent) by Veronica Roth Another Dystopian, the author creates a completely creative and unique world where everyone lives in factions according to the values they want to live by (information, selflessness, bravery, truth, etc). But when Tris Prior picks a faction other than the one she’s lived in her entire life, her whole world is turned upside down. This book really does have it all, action, risk, love, humor. Rating: PG See the entire review, here.
  6. 6.       Vixen by Jillian Larkin (Book 1 in the Flapper Series) The whole series is good, but this one was the first and best, in my opinion. Set in 1920’s Chicago, the book follows Gloria as she struggles with falling in love with a black piano player from the local speakeasy while she’s engaged to another man. The book is told from three different, but connected, points of view; filled with love, jealousy, secrets, and revenge. I really loved this book. Rating: PG-13 some strong sexuality. Read my review, here.
  7. 7.       Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to GettingGirls by Tallulah Darling This book is more on the risqué side because it deals with sex. Lots of sex - but in a surprisingly non-vulgar way. Which might be hard to believe.  Sam and Ally are best friends. Sam’s a player and Ally’s been dumped. She has her best friend teach her how to get in and get out without being committed. But everything backfires for everybody. This book is hilariously funny, but definitely for mature audiences and the older YA reader.  Rating: R for strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “bow chicka wow wow”. See the full review, here.
  8. 8.       Blood Red Road by Moira Young This was the first dystopian book that I read. It was hard to get into at first, but after I got used to the voice, I ended up loving this book. Full of action, drama, cage fighting, love, and reluctant rescuing, Saba’s journey is addicting. The second book in the series, Rebel Heart, is available in stores and online. Rating: PG for some violence
  9. 9.       Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers Contemporary fiction written by an English author about a young man, Karl, and his older mentor (unnamed) who tries to help him win his girlfriend over. It’s not outstandingly prolific, but the changes that happen in the lives of Karl and the narrator are moving. A good, deeper read. Rating: PG
  10. 10.   The Book of Blood & Shadows by Robin Wasserman Oh, wow. This book has it all: mystery, suspense, a little bit of love, betrayal, revenge, conspiracies, mysterious religious organizations, codes, clues, travel, EVERYTHING! It’s long (450 pages) but it goes by so quickly. Especially with a storyteller like Wasserman. Rating: For some mild violence


Monday, December 17, 2012

Damaged characters and their wonderful romance

Eleanor & Park
By: Rainbow Roswell
Genre: YA Contemproary
Content Rating: PG-13 for some language and some sexuality (warning: best first kiss scene in a YA EVER!)
Rating: 5/5
Cover: Love how it captures everything in the book
Instalove Factor: Nope, they worked hard for their love
Favorite Line: “Park turned toward the Plexiglas window and waited for a world of suck to hit the fan.” (pg 16, ebook)
Disclaimer I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.
Publisher’s Summary
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

My Take I get so wrapped up in reading genre fiction in YA (paranormal, fantasy, dystopian, etc) that I forget how much I love contemporary YA fiction. It has a way of touching you as a reader and making you experience things in a realistic and emotional way that genre fiction could never do. While at times it can be a bit sad or depressing, it’s also refreshing and beautiful.

I just finished reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and this book is one of those refreshingly beautiful contemporary romances. Set in 1986, the book is told from alternating points of view written in the 3rd person, between (you guessed it) Eleanor and Park.

It opens with Eleanor starting a new school and walking on to the bus for the first time and seeing Park then flips to Park’s first impression of Eleanor. Let’s just say it’s anything but love at first sight. Life for Eleanor is hard. We aren’t given many details about her past, but we do know that she was kicked out by her stepdad for a year and is just now coming back home. She has four siblings and all of them share the same room. Her stepdad is an abusive drunk (although Rowell never goes into details about specific events) and she’s being bullied at school. But she is strong and tries to ignore everything.

Park is from a pretty functional family, although his dad wishes he were more….well, just more. Park is ridden hard by his tae-kwon-do teaching father and compared to his younger brother too much. He has friends at school, but he’s pretty quiet. And then he falls in love with the wrong girl.

This seemed like a long book when in reality it really wasn’t. I think that illusion was created by the fact that so much happens on every page; no space is wasted in telling the story and developing the characters.

I loved the snarky comments that constantly came from Eleanor and the fact that she was afraid to let Park get so close, constantly second-guessing that he could actually love her. Park had the patience of a saint in dealing with her insecurities, but he was also human, getting frustrated and making mistakes. They both do, and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes this book so real.

My Recommendation Definitely worth the read. Loved this book so much.


The Christmas ereader battle: Nook vs. Kindle

It took me a LONG time before I finally caved and bought myself an ereader. I was being stubborn and indignant about technology’s progress when it came to books. By golly, I would hold a physical book in my hand and read it or not read it at all!

That was silly.

When Pam was deciding whether to get a Nook or a Kindle, I helped do the research. That’s when I realized they weren’t so bad after all. And they aren’t, they’re really quite remarkable with everything that’s been pumped into them. From HD streaming movies, to full color games, internet, social media, email, and of course, books.

So, with Christmas coming around, and Santa’s list beckoning to you from your purse or wallet, an ereader just may be on your mind. The next question is, which one should you get? Especially with the introduction of the HD models and all the tablets available, which one is truly best?

I’m going to try and help you with that. Please know, I’m not a tech-savvy guru by any means, nor do I know everything there is to know, but I have done a bit of research and have personal experience with my Nook, so that is what I’m going to enlighten you with.

I’m going to focus my info on the two main ereaders on the market: Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Kindle’s Fire. I’m not going to touch the tablets or the mini tablets because they’re tablets that can be used as ereaders. Their first function isn’t reading. Plus, that would be way too much for me to tackle. So, here we go. There’s a lot of information.
  Nook Family 

Back when I purchased my ereader, I chose Nook for a couple of reasons: 

 1)      The Silk browser on Kindle really wasn’t any faster than the Nook’s browser 
 2)      I could side-load apps and the Nook had external storage 
 3)      There was a brick and mortar store I could walk into and get help with my Nook and 
 4)      My Nook could accept almost any format of ebook imaginable, whereas Kindle can only do only a couple 

Looking at the new ereaders available now, and going off of what I’ve been using my Nook Tablet for (which they don’t offer anymore. I think the closest thing would be the HD+), and what I wish I could do with it, I would be tempted by the Kindle. 

I feel dirty saying that. 

Here’s why I’d be tempted: 

1)      The selection of books and music and movies via Amazon is, undoubtedly far superior to that of B&N. There are millions of self-published authors you have access to 
2)       The pricing tends to be more competitive, especially if it is a self-published author 
3)      The 4G capability, a true tablet-esque feature 
4)      The app store has FAR MORE choices and there are more free apps here than with B&N (not that I really use that many apps on my reader) 
5)      I like the classic look of the Kindle over the new Nook HD 

But in the end, I’d still go with my Nook. I haven’t had any real problems with my Nook that going into the store didn’t fix. And the extended warranty I purchased was painless when I had to implement it the day my Nook decided to go for a swim in a mug-full of coffee at the bottom of my purse. 

So why buy the Nook over the $600 Kindle when it seems there are so many more reasons to pump out a hefty price? If you’re going to spend that much money on something that’s “close to” a tablet, throw in a couple hundred more dollars and buy an actual tablet. That way, you can do everything under the sun on it, and not pay a tablet price for a fancy ereader. 

There you have it. A bit of info and my two cents to help you make your decision. Whichever way you go, though, they’re all pretty comparable and you’re going to get a good product with great customer service. If you know someone with either reader (or any ereader, Kindle and Nook aren't your only options), ask to play with it a bit and get a feel for it. See which setup you prefer and why. Then, make your purchase and help make a very merry Christmas.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Tis the Season...

This was my favorite of the pics
...To be having babies.

I’m not even kidding, it seems like EVERYONE is pregnant in my neck of the woods. I have a friend due in December, a friend due in January, three friends due in June, and I’m due in July.

You heard that right. Hubby and I are having a baby.

And we couldn't be more excited.

When I found out I was pregnant, I kept it a secret from Hubby for a few days (three hardest days of my life) because I wanted to tell him in a special way. Here’s the story.

I have this teddy bear. It’s a raggedy old thing that I’ve had for about 23 years named Bear Bear. So, I went to the store, bought a cute new little bear and had a photographer take some pics at the same park Hubby and I had our engagement photos taken at. On the photo I had her write, “A new Bear Bear for a new Bennett”. I printed the picture and put it in an envelope, paired it with the new teddy bear, and gave it to Hubby.

I hid in the kitchen while he opened it and crept back out when he started reading out loud. “An new Bear Bear for a new Bennett. What….what?” I just stood there and stared at him, willing him to understand. Then he looked at me and said, “We’re having a baby?”

And it was all over. I bawled. I blame it on the hormones.

We kept it a secret from family for another couple of weeks. We were all going to be together on Thanksgiving so that’s when we were going to announce it. And in a special way, too. Hubby and I had some announcement pictures taken and it went like this:

My mom had just moved into a new house and she was hosting Thanksgiving dinner. We went over early to help cook, so, we took the picture, put it in a frame, and called it a housewarming gift. Then it went down a little something like this (it's kinda long, so you can skip the end after she screams :) ):

Then, when we were all sitting down at the table, getting ready to eat, Hubby pulls out the other wrapped and framed photo and hands it to his mom. I wish I would've gotten their reaction on video, too, but I forgot. It was just a precious, though.

She opened it and her eyes teared up as she asked, “Are you serious?” To which I started tearing up. She hadn't shown anyone else the photo yet, so everyone was getting concerned and wondering what was going on. When she flipped the photo around, there were excited shrieks (most of Hubby’s family is made up of girls--three sisters) and tears and hugs and LOTS of excitement.

Monday was reserved for telling co-workers, and while I expected the most crap to be given by Hubby’s office, I was slightly disappointed. I called an impromptu meeting at my office in the big bosses office (everyone looked a little concerned as to why I wanted to talk to all of them). As soon as the door shut, I threw my hands in the air and yelled, “I’M HAVING A BABY!” They all started screaming and yelling and it sounded like we were in the end zone of a BSU Bronco game.
My blue hair kind of shows up. Sweet
So, lots of changes in store for Hubby and I. We’re still in a state of disbelief, especially since I’m not far enough along to show, but my fatigue and nausea are enough proof for me that I’m growing another little baby inside me.

Happy Thursday, everyone!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

The choice is yours, what do you believe?

Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Genre: YA-ish (old man telling of his adventure at 16 years old)
Coffee Beans: 4/5
Content Rating: PG-13 (there's some extreme, graphic violence)
Favorite Line: "The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart." (pg 71, printed copy)
Cover Love: Simplisticly awesome
Instalove Factor: None present.
Personal Recommendation: Read it, but it's an investment of time and brain cells. But worth it.

Life of Pi is a very unique book written in so many layers about religion, survival, right and wrong and at a very collegiate level. The writing is fantastic (almost hypnotic at times), the details both captivating and repulsive, and the overall story so imaginative, I can't help but wonder, What was the point?

Let me explain.

The book is a lot like the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks, but on a boat instead of an island and with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker  instead of a volleyball named Wilson.

But there wasn't any real storyline or significant plot in the traditional sense. This boy is lost out at sea for 227 days before he's found (and you know he survives because this book is an interview, you find that out in the beginning). The first quarter of the book is about his childhood growing up, how he got his nickname Pi, his schooling, and what it was like to grow up living in a zoo (his father was the head man at the Pondicherry Zoo in India). While it was fascinating to learn the ins and outs of zoos and the different animals, the narrative was almost written like a nonfiction, collegiate fashion that somewhat bored me and I ended up skimming a little.

He also goes into theology. Pi, as a young boy (he's sixteen through most of this), constantly says that he just wants to love God. As a result, he starts to follow not one religion, but three. Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Needless to say, this was a bit of an ordeal for his agnostic parents and the religious leaders of the different houses of worship he was attending when they all found out, but you couldn't help but want to encourage young Pi in his journey of seeking God. After all, he just wanted to love God, so why did he have to pick only one religion to do so. While that vein of his life story was interesting, going into the dry, theological details of each religion was not, so I skimmed some of this, at times, as well.

The next section was the majority of the book, and consisted of his story being stuck out at sea. This was the most interesting part of the book, obviously. And while it didn't have any on the edge of your seat action/peril/look out! moments, it was still very interesting. Martel has a subtle way of telling the details of a story that seep into every pore of your body. As Pi was baking from the sun and his skin getting tortured by the salt spray, I could have sworn my skin tightened with dehydration. I really could taste his victory of food and fresh water when he found it, and was scared for him being exposed in the wild Pacific ocean. This, to me, was the best part of the book, but I couldn't help but wish for more of a story arc.

The last section of the book (about twenty pages or so) takes place when his ordeal ends. Even though this was the smallest section, I almost liked this the most. I got more personality from Pi, and this was where the most thought provoking element of the book comes from. You are presented with a question, and given the background of the book, and everything we learn about Pi, it's not the question I thought it was going to be when I started reading the book. As a reader, you are given two very plausible outcomes or paths to choose that come from the question. It's almost heart wrenching, the different possibilities. One is so real, and so tragic, that you don't want to pick that answer, you're more willing to pick the more fantastical option, however absurd it may be.

But in the end, the answer I chose to believe, I hope that is the truth. Because it is a sad and beautiful possibility.

I would love to get a discussion group together to talk about this book to see what everyone's thoughts were, how they reacted to the storyline, which answer they believe to be correct and why, and just to hear their overall impressions. I also am planning on going to see the movie. I heard it was fantastic and very beautifully filmed and followed the book masterfully.

In the end, I would recommend this book. It's not an easy read, nor is it a light read. And you may end up like me at the end, wondering what the whole point was, while still understanding what the whole point was. But all-in-all, it was worth my time.

Happy reading, my friends!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ballerinas and bad boys - a dysfunctional romantic combination

Crash (book 1) & Clash (book 2)
Nicole Williams
Genre: TFDR (Twisted fustercluck dysfunctional romance)
Rating: 4 (Crash) 3 (Clash)
Content Rating: PG-13 (Crash) strong PG-13/weak R (Clash)
Cover Love: Fun, although Clash was better
Instalove Factor: Not really

Publisher’s Summary (Crash):
Jude Ryder and Lucy Larson are this generation's Romeo and Juliet: Explosive. Sizzling. Tragic.

A steamy summer encounter with bad boy Jude means trouble for Lucy. Her sights are set on becoming a ballerina, and she won't let anything get in her way . . . except Jude.

He's got a rap sheet, dangerous mood swings, and a name that's been sighed, shouted, and cursed by who knows how many girls.

Jude's a cancer, the kind of guy who's fated to ruin the lives of girls like Lucy—and he tells her so.

But as rumors run rampant and reputations are destroyed, Lucy's not listening to Jude's warning. Is tragedy waiting in the wings? This racy romance is hot, hot, hot!

Publisher’s Summary (Clash):

The steamy sequel to Crash!

Their Romeo-and-Juliet-level passion is the only thing Jude and Lucy agree on. That, and fighting all the time . . .

Also not helping? Lucy's raging jealousy of the cheerleader who's wormed her way into Jude's life.

While trying to hang on to her quintessential bad boy and also training to be the top ballet dancer in her class, Lucy knows something's going to give . . . soon.

How can she live without the boy she loves? How can she live with herself if she gives up on her dreams? If Lucy doesn't make the right choice, she could lose everything.

My Review:

These types of trainwreck disaster books seem to be all the rage right now, and I have to admit, I did get sucked In for a bit, but I’m done now. (until I find another one I just can’t live without). This one was surprisingly not as cheesy ridiculous as the others (read Beautiful Disaster).

Here’s how it went down. I was looking at Beautiful Disaster on Amazon. At the bottom, it told me a few books other people bought. Easy and Crash were among the list. I clicked on Crash, it looked good, but I didn’t do anything about it. Then, I was on GoodReads, and a friend had just added it to her TBR list and had a couple of comments she’d posted as she read it. Then, I went to Google Books and read the first few pages to see if I’d like it. I was hooked. Like an Alaskan salmon during fishing season.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

“Summers turn me into a sucker. That’s why I was glad this one was almost over.

Every year since puberty, from mid-June to early September, I’d been sure I was going to meet the real-world equivalent to Prince Charmin. Call me old-fashioned, call me hopelessly romantic, you could even call me a fool, but whatever I was, I knew the end result--I was a sucker. To date, I’d never found a guy who was worthy to stand in Prince C’s shadow; no real surprise there, as I’d discovered more and more that guys were something of a pain in the ass. But here, working on my tan at Sapphire Lake’s public beach just a couple of weeks before I was all set to start my senior year at a new school, I’d just found me a Prince Hot Damn.”

I love the main Character, Lucy Larson. She is such a spitfire and strong and opinionated. She has goals and a dysfunctional family, and a crazy confused teenage life. She knows what she wants and goes for it. So, when Jude Ryder enters the scene and turns her world upside down, you understand why she makes the decisions she does.

I think that’s what I liked the most about this book, it’s pretty realistic (I said pretty. There is one scene that involves a football game that is entirely unrealistic), and I liked the book a lot. The twist at the end was amazing (I totally didn’t see it coming) and the struggle their relationship goes through is pretty believable, and I loved the ending. I read it dang fast and purchased the next in the series immediately after. In all reality, though, I think that the first book was perfect the way it was, ending and all.

Clash is the sequel. It follows Jude and Lucy through college (they’re attending different ones since they have different focuses--which I liked). This book was a little more drama-filled and unbelievable than the first. I kind of wish I hadn’t read it, but I just wanted to know more about Jude and Lucy. Their relationship goes through a lot more ups and downs, and the things that Jude asks of her I think are a little farfetched (“Yea, Lucy, I know this super hot cheerleader is following me around and wants me to take a shot from her chest at the party and has the hots for me and you and I hardly spend any time together, but trust me, there’s nothing going on.”). I don’t like how Lucy’s asked to believe--without ANY doubts or suspicions--that nothing’s going on between Jude and that cheerleader. The scenarios that are set up and that she walks into, how is she to believe anything else.

There’s LOTS of steamy scenes in this one, about a bajillion more than the first book, which got kind of tiresome. And the ending was sooo cheesy, I loved it so much!! :) Not gonna lie, I’m a sucker for an HEA here. Overall, I liked this book, and Nicole really is a talented writer.

So, my recommendation, read Crash and skip Clash. But, you’ll probably get sucked into the sequel, too. Okay, happy reading, my friends!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A fresh spin on Romeo & Juliette, but not fresh enough

Mystic City
Author: Theo Lawrence
Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci-fi
Rating: 3/5
Content Rating: PG (Some drug use/make-out scenes)
Cover Love: So in love
Instalove Factor: Not really
Spoiler Alert: None

Publisher’s Summary:
Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

My Review:

There were a few pretty impressive things about Mystic City.
  1. This is Theo’s debut novel
  2. It’s a female progtag POV written by a male author
  3. The world was pretty impressive

The idea behind the story, to me, was intriguing. I loved the idea of a Romeo and Juliet-esque story set in a dystopian/sci-fi future Manhattan. I got a very good visual sense of the Waterworld-type setting with the lower half of the city underwater and everything pretty much being built on cat walks.

I loved that Aria woke up one morning, remembering nothing, but being told she was in love with their family’s sworn enemy’s son. I loved that, while she trusted her family and what they told her, she still was unsure of a few things and wanted to pry.

But that’s where the loving stopped and reality busted in.

Do away with the prequel. Just skip it. I got the wrong idea from reading it so I had an incorrect mindset while reading the whole rest of the book. It doesn’t have any “need to know” info so just don’t bother.

The MC was pretty weak. She really didn’t take much action at all, just kind of stood there and let life (read: abusive father, overbearing mother, superficial best friend, back stabbing brother, and  lying fiancé) push and pull her around. It wasn’t until the end of the book that she actually started making her own decisions that I really got into it.

More of Tuck. There wasn’t nearly enough page time for this peripheral character. As it stands, I don’t know why he was even in the book except to act as a chauffeur when Aria needed one and no other character was available. I think he would have added A LOT to the story, so I would’ve liked to see more of him. In fact, I would have liked to see all the characters fleshed out more. They were too two dimensional.

There were too many times where I got this strong sense of déjà vu about Harry Potter while reading this. (ie - Aria’s looking for an address, but the houses skip over the number she’s looking for. She does something that triggers the “door bell” and the two houses spread apart and there appears her missing house. Order of the Phoenix, anyone?)

Ugh. It’s a series. And it’s a long book. Probably about a quarter of the book didn’t need to be included. Nothing happened. She would be at work. Or out eating with her friends. Or just filling space with text on a page. There really was a lot of filler in here. And I’m sure not invested enough to pick up the second book. Sorry.

I originally wanted to give it a 2.5 but decided to up it to a 3. Don’t ask me why. I guess because it wasn’t entirely bad. The thing that disappointed me the most was the amount of potential this book had and it didn't live up to it. But, as always, pick it up and decide for yourself, you may be thoroughly impressed.

Happy Reading!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Freebee Friday!

Holy. Crap.

Have you all seen this yet? I can't wait to see the movie. I really enjoyed the first 3 books in the series (4 and on were just okay).


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I got a phone call the other day from Co-Worker Justin that went a little something like this:

"IT doesn't have enough new big computer screens for everyone so they're going to take one of yours and give it to me." [We recently got new computers for the entire newspaper]

"No, they aren't."

"Yeah, I just got done talking to Ray and Rick. They're going to take one of your two and give it to me."

"I'd like to see them try. I'm not giving up one of my screens."

"They talked to Michelle [the IT director], and she gave the okay."

Now, Michelle and I are friends, so my first thought was, She wouldn't do that to me! But I answered with, "Over my dead, lifeless, cold body will they take one of my screens. I will hang onto it with clawed fingers."

To which Justin laughed at me and told me he was just kidding and, "But IT really doesn't have enough screens for everyone."

Not my problem. Everyone already has screens, just not my wicked cool larger-than-life screens. :)

So, for the next couple of days IT and I have been laughing around about the whole "joke".

Yes, my desk is usually this messy
Until this morning. When I came into work to find this. Now can you see what's missing? MY SECOND COMPUTER SCREEN! And it was the bigger of the two, too!

Texts to Michelle

Me: This best be a joke!!!!
Michelle: What?
Michelle: I think someone is messing with u
Me: I think so too :) it's actually a pretty good one.

Then I found the note.

"Ransom" note 
So I made up missing posters and posted them throughout IT. I'm still trying to figure out if this is all a joke or not. If it is, well played, IT. Well played. *Slow claps*.

If it isn't I'm trying to calm myself down that it isn't the end of the world. But in reality, it is. I loved my two computer screens. A lot. I was able to get a lot more work done and it acted as a barrier between me and anyone who sat at my desk.


I'll keep you updated as this investigation progresses.


UPDATE: Thanks to amazing detective skills (moi) and the fact that certain someones like to gloat (Rick), my monitor is sitting back on my desk. Where it belongs. Sorry Justin.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Freebee Friday!

Today's going to be a "nontraditional" type of Freebee Friday!

One of the many things I love to do is cook. This was an expiramental meal that I made and Hubby really liked. I got the potato recipe from Pinterest, tweaked it a bit, and then just did whatever I could with the chicken.

Awesomeness is what resulted. So, I thought I'd share the recipe with you all.
Chicken ingredients
Chicken breasts (enough to feed however many people are eating)
Flour for coating
Parmesan Herb dressing for coating (I get this at Fred Meyer in the refrigerated section. You can use any dressing you like, just make sure it's thick and flavorful)
Panko crumbs for coating
"New" potatoes

New potatoes (likewise on quantity). Now, new potatoes are basically just small potatoes--but not Russets--so I tend to just use smaller red potatoes. But Yukons and others would work just as well.
Olive Oil
Chopped garlic
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
Ingredients for potatoes
Parmesan cheese

French green beans (or any vegetable you prefer)

Boil your potatoes in salted water until they're fork tender. Depending on your altitude, size of the potatoes, etc, this takes around 15 - 20 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, I prepare the chicken. Wash it, trim it, and then set it aside. Filll three bowls, one with flower, one with the dressing, and the third with Panko crumbs.

Dunking station
This is how this is gonna work, and it's gonna get messy.

Take your chicken, dredge it in the dressing, coat it in the flour, dredge it again in the dressing, and finish it in the Panko crumbs. Tada! Now your fingertips should be about an inch thicker. Wash your hands and repeat. You'll be surprised about the amount of dressing you go through on this.

Gooey fingers
By the time you're done with the chicken, your potatoes should be close to done. Drain them and place them on a cookie sheet that's been liberally coated with olive oil. You don't want them to stick when they cook, but you don't want a pool for them to swim in, either.

Coated chicken
Once they're laid out, squash them with a masher or a large serving fork so they end up looking like this. Drizzle them with olive oil (I'm a huge fan of the EVOO, in case you didn't pick up on that. I'm also a fan of garlic.) Take your diced garlic and put a generous amount on each potato. Sprinkle with your thyme and rosemary, salt & pepper. Don't be afraid with the salt. Be generous. But keep in mind that we're not brining the poor things. Last, top with the shredded parmesan.

Ready for the oven
Move your oven rack to the top (or next to the top if yours is like mine and almost touches the coils), at 400 and cook your potatoes for 20-25 minutes. I like mine more on the crispy side, so I go the full 25 minutes. What's great about this recipe is that the tops stay soft, but the bottoms get all nice and crunchy.

While your potatoes are cooking, we can cook our chicken. I cook mine in a pan, seasoned with EVOO, on medium heat. About 8 - 10 minutes on each side. I like to make sure the coating is crispy. When the chicken is done, I usually put it on a plate and tent it with foil while I cook my beans.
In a pan, heat up a little bit of EVOO, add the beans and toss until they're slightly tender and a brighter shade of green. Squirt with lemon juice (fresh) and coarse kosher salt (Here's a tip. When cooking the chicken or the beans, you can substitute the EVOO with chicken broth and it works just as well. And even tastes good).

Prepare your presentation and, voila! A yummy, somewhat easy meal. And it tastes great. Honest. :)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Days like this make furloughs so worth it

Yesterday was far from boring at work. Working at a newspaper the day after an election like that is full of excited energy and good spirits. Plus good food. Pam and I went into Mission Impossible mode and scored ourselves some yummy breakfast burritos and the day was just generally good.

Then the afternoon hit. And it got exponentially better.

Cop cars
Here’s the layout of my little neck of the woods: My “office” sits against a row of windows. So does Pam’s (right next to mine). I was typing away, wondering how fast the rest of my day would drag by when she came into my cubie office and told me to look out the window.

Across the street from the newspaper is a government building--The Bureau of Reclamation. My father-in-law works there. Anyway, sitting in the street and their parking lot, blocking off the ENTIRE street, were four marked cop cars, a K-9 unit, and an undercover cop car. Their lights were flashing, they’d brought out the orange cones, and they were all standing, bouncer style, in the road, refusing any car that tried to go down that road.

Before I knew it, pretty much the entire news department (as well as advertising and finance) were crammed around our windows trying to get an idea of what was going on.

Now, the first thing you need to know about me in situations like this is that I get excited. I mean, EXCITED, excited. I jump around like a sugar-hyped toddler and get kind of obnoxious and out of control. But I don’t care when I’m in this state. The only thing that matters is that I find out what’s going on; and I can be pretty dang resourceful.

I called my father-in-law to ask him what was up, but he was out of town on business so didn't know. Dang. Strike one. Then I saw a buddy of mine out there talking to the cross-armed cop. “Logan will tell me!” I cried out and then ran out into the parking lot--barefoot--to see what he’d found out.

“The cop was pretty tight-lipped,” Logan said. “But he did tell me that Homeland Security called them in.”

Homeland freaking Security?!?!?!

It’s days like these that make coming into work worth it. “This is so exciting!” I said. Followed promptly by, “It makes all the furloughs worth it!” (At this point I’m literally jumping up and down in the parking lot, punching the air. See, told ya, obnoxious. But in the cutest way possible, promise).

So, back into the building I scampered, remembering that I have another contact in the quarantined building. I sent her an email.

Me: Is everything okay???

My friend: Yes, why??

My "artistic photo
Me: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WHY???? :) There are 4 cops outside in your parking lot, blocking off the street. Homeland Security called them in!!!! We want details! :)

To which I received no response. So, we were all freaking out (in a good way) trying to see what’s going on. One guy was tweeting about Homeland Security trying to get a response, we were listening to the scanners, texting and calling and emailing everyone under the sun.

Finally, one of my bosses got a text from a friend that works over there, too: “Suspicious package in a car in the parking lot. They brought in a drug dog who found something that warrants a bomb robot to come in.”

Holy $&%*!!!  This is getting exciting!!

A few of our diligent employees
We joked around that it was a disgruntled voter who wasn't happy with last night’s election results and the closest government building was the Bureau.

Logan and I went outside to take pictures when we saw the robot enter the scene. We sneaked up, making sure we stayed on the newspaper’s property, and got the okay from the cop to take pictures and commenced photo taking.

Joe showed up, one of our awesome photographers, with his $10,000 camera and telephoto lens straight off the Hubble telescope. We tried to talk him into climbing a tree for a better vantage but he didn't buy it. 
Joe's photo of the robot
There wasn't much going on other than the robot occasionally rolling or moving his arm, but he was pretty cute. A lot like the robot from Short Circuit. Things started to die down. I was getting hungry and cold, so we meandered back inside.

Where I finally got an email from my friend.

Friend: Here's a picture of Rover. So apparently it is a package that's been left on the passenger tire (inside the well) of a Tahoe. The fellow who drove it last is in training somewhere off-site. They're trying to get a hold of him to see if he left his half-eaten lunch or whatever it is on the tire. Personally, I think it's probably his dirty laundry!

My friend's photo of the rover making
it's appearance
We continued to watch out our windows and the bouncer packed up the cones, the fire truck left, the street opened up, and it was like nothing happened at all. Then I got another email explaining what triggered the panic.

Friend: Turns out the suspicious package contained. . . Cheetos.

Great. Now the poor dog’s probably going to get fired and all he was was hungry.

Happy Thursday, my friends!

The bomb scare


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I laughed so hard, I cried.

Serriously, though, I'm writing book reviews like a fiend!!

Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls
Author: Tallulah Darling
Content Rating: R for “strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of "’bow chicka wow wow’”
Coffee Beans: 4.5
Favorite Line: Holy crap, there were so many.
Personal Recommendation: Read it. Now
Cover Appeal: So awesome it’s beyond words
Instalove Factor: None
Spoliers: No

Publisher’s Summary:

Why the hell can't chicks be more like guys?

That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn't change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam's best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It's Sam's chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam's Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it's driving him nuts. Told from Sam's and Ally's alternating POVs, Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.

This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of "bow chicka wow wow."

My Review:

Holy hell. Was this book funny! I’m not talking, “Yeah, I cracked a smile a few times” funny, but “I laughed out loud and got strange looks from strangers” funny. Like, on every page.  I loved the hilarious banter between Ally and Sam. Their one liners and inside jokes. The scenes and situations that Tallulah wrote I could picture in my head at every second, which made the hilarity of what was going on even more real. I mean, this should be a movie. Granted, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate for the kiddos out there because of all the bow chicka wow wow.

So, here’s my warning to you about this book if you’re thinking about reading it: If you go into this with the mindset that this is supposed to be some serious, profound book, you’re going to be disappointed. Possibly even disgusted. But, if you go into this book with the mindset of “it is what it is”, you’ll appreciate what Ally’s trying to do and Sam’s struggle with turning his best friend into himself. That’s how I was able to enjoy this book as much as I did and read it in less than a day.

The book, obviously, is about sex. And while that’s a vulgar topic for a YA book to be about, Tallulah does it in a way that somehow, is completely un-vulgar. She has mad skill in the dialogue department and the setup of the relationship between Ally and Sam right from the beginning. I think it’s because alternating chapters are told from either Sam or Ally’s POV.

Which coincidentally was also a problem I had with this book.

There were several times I thought I was reading Ally’s POV only to remember it was Sam’s head I was in. Talk about confusing. The only other thing I had an issue with, was when a certain secret was spilled, suddenly everyone knew, but I don't remember ever reading a scene where the friends were told about said secret. It just all of a sudden, was.

I especially enjoyed the relationship development between Ally and Sam. Given their history and backgrounds, the pace in which the evolution happened was totally believable. Especially the end. Which I won’t spoil for you. But I'll for sure be on the prowl for more of Tallulah's books. 

Some funny lines:

“Yo, fry Ninja, step down.” --Ally
“Monkey humping credit card baller,” I mutter. “I don’t think so.” --Sam
“Having just gushed like chicks in a tampon commercial, I feel I need to get this speech back on a more manly track. ‘So deal with it.’ There. Balls back.” --Sam

I want you to go and read it for yourself, laugh until your sides hurt and you get cautious looks from strangers, and then pass the book on to a friend.  


Like, seriously.

AND the book trailer is pretty kick ass. :) 

Happy reading, my friends!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A well-written book about a sensitive topic

Author: Tammara Webber
Genre: NA (New Adult)
Content Rating: R for, you know…
Coffee Beans: 4
Favorite Line:
Personal Recommendation: Read it. Now
Cover Appeal: Awesome sauce
Instalove Factor: None present
Spoliers: Yes, sort of. But I warn you when

Publisher’s Summary:

A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

My Review:

Easy is a very convoluted, detailed book. And not in a bad way. I tried explaining it to my friend when she asked what it was about, and I realized, at the end of my sloppy description, that there is A LOT going on in the story. Let’s see if I can make it better this time around.

Mostly, this book is about Jacqueline’s journey through coping with the fact that she was assaulted and almost raped by someone she knew, and then her relationship with Lucas. But mostly her relationship with Lucas and him helping her and her being empowered to deal with what happened to her.

See? Even that was messy.  *sigh*

Let’s get out of the way what I didn’t like (and this is a bit of a spoiler, so skip a head if you don’t want to read this). There were two things.

1.       She has this attraction to Lucas, a guy in her econ class. He’s super cute, a bad boy, and according to her friends--the perfect rebound guy from her recent break-up. So, she toys with him. He plays along. They make out and then at class the next day, they completely ignore each other like nothing ever happened. Like the hadn’t even met!! That, to me, was frustrating and a tad unbelievable. But not a deal breaker.

2.       Because of said break-up, (and the assault) she’s in a hot, emotional mess, and skips two weeks of her econ class because her ex is taking it, too. The teacher says she can take up tutoring with the TA (who she’s never met) to catch up on what she missed and then get a project assignment to make up for her midterm. His name is Landon.





Anyone else seeing what’s being set up here? To me, it was completely obvious that they were the same guy. Like, 100%, no bones about it. I can’t believe Jacqueline didn’t pick up on it.

So those were the only two issues I had. The rest is all good.

The writing of Tammara is very, very good. It seems, with these types of books (I don’t know if they have an official genre or not. But you know the ones; Beautiful Disaster, Crash/Clash, 50 Shades), writing seems to come secondary to all the other “stuff”. But with Tammara, writing and telling the story comes first. And it’s soooo well done. All of it.

I enjoyed the characters immensely. Jacqueline was a real person with believable actions and thoughts, her friend Erin was saucy and offered strength, wisdom, and comedic relief. And Lucas was actually a strong male character in this book. And not just physically strong (cuz he was that, too), but he was mature and reasonable and was kinda just a normal guy (thank you, Tammara. There aren’t enough Lucas’ in YA/NA/Crossover books).

I LOVED how Tammara talked about the importance of a female knowing that being raped isn’t their fault. That it’s not something to be ashamed of, and it’s okay to get help. She delivered all the important information and the truth of the situation in a natural way and at no time did I feel like I was reading a PSA (public service announcement).

I’ll tell you this, I’m signing up for a self-defense class after reading this book.

One thing I do wish, that she added a little more to the stalker element of the story. I think that would have added a bit more depth to the plot, given it a bit more to sink my teeth into.

And I loved that this was a standalone book. Can you tell that I’m not really into books that are setting up a series?

Happy reading, my friends!