24 Things Being 24 Taught Me

24 Things Being 24 Taught Me

Hello Everyone!  Tomorrow is my birthday and I plan on celebrating by going to the DMV, woohoo!  But in all seriousness I am excited about the birthday not the DMV though.

24 was a big year for me, so I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned with you all.

 

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  1. It’s okay to reboot, you’re still young.  This year I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom until my daughter finished nursing.  Now that she’s finished, I’ve decided to go back to school and get my Masters in teaching.  My husband and I prayed about it and decided it was the right thing fir us to do.
  2. Take care of yourself.  I want to be able to run around and play in the front yard with my daughter when she’s a bit older, and to do that, I need to get into shape.  I’ve already lost the baby weight, which wasn’t much since I was so sick, and now I’m working on that extra bit that was already there.  I’m also taking care of myself mentally reading more and separating myself from negativity.  (The way I’ve done that is outlined here in my new morning routine.)
  3. Nursing is hard, but totally worth it.  I nursed Elizabeth until the end of her 11th month. It was an amazing experience that definitely led to a deep bond between us.  I’m not going to lie, it was challenging, some days it even sucked.  But once we got into a groove, it was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
  4. Healthy food can be yummy.  I’ve been trying to eat healthier since deciding to take better care of myself.  One day, after I made a Turkey, spinach, Sweet Potato Skillet, my husband turned to me and said something along the lines of, “you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health.”  Granted, the only reason he said this was because he doesn’t like spinach… or sweet potato… or ground turkey.  Since then my healthy recipes have been tastier.  I think his favorite so far is my Ranch Burgers, or maybe the Stuffed Pepper Casserole, both of which are super yummy and under 400 calories a serving.
  5. Loose-leaf tea is soooo good.  If you’re into tea, you should totally try out loose-leaf tea.  I originally picked some up two years ago from Teavana when we went to Little Rock on a family trip, but my zeal for it didn’t last long.  I’ve recently picked it back up when I found some yummy loose leaf at my local Kroger.  I drink more tea than coffee now.
  6. Self help / advice books are not for me.  I’ve tried two different books like these this year, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick.  These were both good books with good points that I was very interested in, but I just couldn’t push myself to finish them.
  7. Trying new food is fun!  Cody and I tried Indian food for the first time when we were in Dallas in April.  SO. GOOD.  Chicken Tikki Masala with naan is one of our favorite things to eat now.  We haven’t tried any local Indian places yet, but it’s on our list of date night meals.
  8. Live theatre is something everyone should try.  Eh, let me rephrase.  Good theatre is something everyone should try.  My sister goes to an artsy school, and I went to their production of Once Upon a Mattress with my mom.  It was really good.  The next time my husband and I take a trip, we’re going to try to see something together.
  9. Audiobooks are the bomb.  My husband and I started using Amazon’s Audible this year for audiobooks (not sponsored).  He listens to them as he works, and I listen while walking the neighborhood or driving someplace.  This year we listened to, the last four Harry Potter books, Girl on the Train, and the two books in the King Killer Chronicles.  I thought it would be difficult to follow along with something that I hadn’t read before, but it wasn’t.  A word of caution:  the narrator must be easy to listen to or you will not enjoy it.
  10. Relationships take work.  Ding, ding, ding!  This is an obvious one, I know, but it’s something that I’ve dealt with this year.  One thing that I pride myself on is our communication, but this year, with his new work schedule and the demands of the new baby, we’ve been a little out of sync.  So we started a new routine that has really helped us connect on days that we’re in a funk.  Each night we take turns telling each other one (different) thing we love about each other, then our favorite part of the day.
  11. It is important to have one nice outfit that fits properly.  By nice, I mean nice nice.  This is the time that most of your friends will be getting married or celebrating big accomplishments that will require a nice outfit.  Something classy.  If you don’t know where to look, try here.  I’ve have a few dresses from here, and they are super classy and excellent quality.
  12. True, die-hard friends are hard to come by; once you find one, don’t let them go.  When you are no longer forced to interact with the same people every day, like in school, you have to work harder to keep friendships alive.  Like I said, relationships take work.  When you do find “your person,” put the work in.  You need someone you can go to and spend time with.  Even if you don’t physically see each other every day, don’t let the life get in the way of your friendship.

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  13. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL… RSVP!!  You’re an adult now, so be responsible.  If someone invites you to something and asks for an RSVP, do it.  Food prep, room, seating, it’s important to know how many people are going to be there.  Don’t be the guy who shows up unexpected, and don’t be the guy that the host is waiting on because you didn’t let them know you weren’t coming.  Also, RVSP at least two weeks before the actual event.  I threw a party this year that half of the guest list did not let me know that they were not coming.  I had cake and goodies left over for days.

  14. Don’t compare yourself to other around you.  We’re young, and most people in we crew are young too.  Don’t compare yourself to someone who you think has it all together because looks can be deceiving.  Everyone takes their own path to success and sometimes your select the scenic route that takes an extra twenty minutes.
  15. Start thinking quality over quantity.  This can apply to all aspects of your life, but here I’m talking about clothes again.  I love cheap Rue 21 clothes as much as the next girl, but you get what you pay for.  Wash it three times, and it disintegrates.  I’ve had to throw out so much this year because the quality just wasn’t there.  Invest in something that will hold up and makes you look like a million bucks (but it doesn’t have to cost quite that much).
  16. Being awesome is a choice.  Being “awesome,” confident, or even social is a decision.  Force positivity, tell yourself that you are great and you’ll eventually believe it.  Personal pep talks can be a life line when you’re exhausted and elbow deep in a poopy diaper, believe me.
  17. If you are unhappy or dislike something, change it now.  You’re an adult, but you’re still young.  If your unsatisfied with something, your body, your job, your relationships, now is the time to change it.  This has basically been my mantra this year.  I’ve switched careers and am working out more.
  18. There is no age limit for YA fiction.  I love young adult fiction.  They say that it’s for ages 16 to 25, but I don’t care.  I love YA fiction and probably always will, so I’m going to keep reading it.
  19. Adult coloring books are the bomb.  I recently bought myself a coloring book.  I’ve wanted to try it for a while but kept putting them down because I thought I didn’t have the time, or I wasn’t even sure if I liked to color.  Turns out I love it, and it’s pretty easy to find some time to squeeze it in my day.
  20. Buying baby clothes is addictive.  Seriously.  I think my new favorite store is Carters.  Everything is so cute and miniature!  I absolutely love it!  The dresses, shoes, headbands, all of it.  Even the little onesies.  Love it.
  21. You don’t have too many books, you have too few bookshelves.  Enough said.
  22. You can live with less.  Except books obviously.  Most people, myself included, have too much stuff.  Useless stuff that we can’t even remember why we bought it.  I ave thrown out or given away so much stuff this year!  It wasn’t “junk”  it was useful stuff that I just didn’t need or have the room for.
  23. Helping people is so good for you.  Giving gifts, time, whatever you can to those in need it is an amazing feeling.  People aren’t kidding when they say it’s better to give than to receive.  The feeling that you get from watching someone get something they truly want or need, it’s amazing.  We’ve went out of our way a few times this year to help others, and it was so fulfilling.
  24. It’s good to know how to make at least one impressive meal.  Everyone likes to impress people, that’s a given.  One of the most satisfying ways to impress someone is by cooking an amazing meal.  Then you’ll be known as that girl/boy who can cook that amazing ______.  Any time there is a pot luck, everyone is super excited to see what I’ve brought because I’ve mastered a few things. The older you get, the more likely it is you’re going to have to bring some food to something, so nail whatever that something is.

Goodbye 24, hello 25.  I’m excited to see what you have in store for me!

Thank you for reading my longest post so far.  Did you learn anything this year?  Share it in the comments below, and Merry Christmas!

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2017 Reading Challenges!

2017 Reading Challenges!

Hello everyone!  2016 is coming to a swift end, and I know these last few days are going to fly by!

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I love to read and have been doing the Goodreads Reading Challenges for a while now.  My 2015 goal was 25 books, and I read (or reread) 36.  This year, my goal was 30, and I am actually on my 36th book now.  So I’ve decided this coming year I am going to try to read 37 books.

I’ve got two strategies to help me get to that goal.  One is Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 reading challenge, and the other is preparing for the North Texas Teen Book Festival.

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My husband and I went to the NTTBF last year and had a blast!  I think I read seven books before we went so I could listen to lots of different authors.  It is in March this year (on our anniversary weekend).  Since that’s three months away, I’d like to try and read ten to fifteen books for it, which I’ll try to fit into the MMD Challenge.

Next is the MMD Challenge.  Her original post for the challenge can be found here.  She gives you two different options to follow, and I think I’m going to try them both.  (I’ll put NTTBF next to the ones that are by people I’ll see in March.) Also, I’m going to try to pick books that are available at my local library or that I already own, cause I’ve got a ton of books on my shelves I haven’t touched yet!  Here is the first:

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  1. A Book You Chose for the Cover – And I Darken by Kiersten White NTTBF.  My favorite color is purple, and when I saw those purple flowers on the cover, I really wanted to pick this one up.  I’ll probably read the physical copy of this one since the cover is so cute, instead of the eBook.
  2. A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarrah J. Maas.  I’ve wanted to read this one for a hot minute and everyone I follow on Goodreads have loved it.  I’ve read a few books in her other series, but I haven’t finished that series yet either.
  3. A book set somewhere you’ve never been, but would like to visit – The X-Files: Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia NTTBF.  This is about how Fox Mulder became a believer.  I’ve watched most of the X-Files and loved them.  The reason I chose it for this category is because the only place I’ve been on that coast is Florida, and I’ve always wanted to visit the New England area.
  4. A book You’ve Already Read – Thorns of Decision by Breeana Puttroff.  I reread this series several times and didn’t get around to rereading all of them this year.  I only reread the first two, so I’d pick up with the third one instead of starting over.
  5. A juicy memoir – Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison.  This book was a runner up for last years Goodreads prize.  So, this looks super interesting and out of my comfort zone.  My library has the audiobook narrated by the author.  If it’s too “out there” for me, I’ll try Furiously Happy by Jenny Larson which I own, but haven’t read yet.
  6. A book about books or reading – The Book Theif by Markus Zusak.  I bought this book and have been meaning to read it, but haven’t gotten to it yet.
  7. A book in a genre you usually avoid – One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies  by Sonya Sones NTTBF.  This book is written in verse.  I’ve never read one like that and even though I like poetry, have always thought that I would’t be too interested in it.  But here I am, trying something new.
  8. A book you don’t want to admit that you’re dying to read – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins NTTBF.  This is one that I’ve wanted to read for a while.  I feel that it’s going to be light, fluffy, and predictable, but I still want to read it.
  9. A book in the blacklist of a new favorite author
  10. A book recommended by someone with great taste – The Uninvited by Liz Jensen.  My friend Keely recommended this to me.  If I remember correctly, it’s a really short audiobook.
  11. A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet – Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry.  I read Rot and Ruin for NTTBF and really liked it.  Then while at the festival, I bought the second book in the series.  I’ve been really excited to read it, but every time I go to pick it up, I grab another book instead for one reason or another.  It’s time I read it.
  12. A book about a topic or subject you already love – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  I’ve read almost all of the Infernal Devices trilogy and have loved it.  Since they are set in the same universe, I bet I’d like this series a lot.

Here is her other challenge

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  1. A Newbery Award winner or Honor book – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.  I’ve heard great things about this one, but never read it in middle school.
  2. A book in translation – The Stranger by Albert Camus.  I read this book in an upper level French class in college.  I remember the basic premise, but since I am not fluent in French, it was a hard read and I skipped a few parts.  So I’d like to actually read it all the way through.
  3. A book that’s more than 600 pages – The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.  I’ve read two of her books and love dystopian fiction, so I think I’ll give this one a try.  If it’s too dry, I’ll switch to A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  I’ve got the series on my book shelf, it was a gift, and haven’t read them yet.  Again, if I can’t get into that one either, I’ll reread Winter by Marissa Meyer.  I know I loved that one and will be able to get through all 600 pages.
  4. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay question – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child  by J.K. Rowling.  I just read/listened to the series this year, so I’d like to read this one.  My husband has absolutely no interest in reading it though.  I’m sure if I read it, he’ll ask what it’s about and everything.
  5. A book of any genre that addresses current event – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas NTTBF.  This book comes out in February and the festival is in March, so I either read is QUICK or buy it there.  It is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the movie rights have already been sold to Fox, which is pretty impressive.
  6. An immigrant story – Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.  Yes, this is a stretch as an immigrant story.  A REAL stretch. But technically, Celaena has moved to another country/land.  I’ve started this book twice but haven’t finished it.
  7. A book published before you were born – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.  This was published the same year I was born, but since I was born at the end of December, I figured that was okay.
  8. Three books by the same author – The Mark of Athena, The House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.  I read the first series and the first book of the second series two years ago.  My husband loved these books and keeps telling me I need to finish them every time it is brought up, so I figured it is time to finish them.  I’m already 75% of the way through with the second one, so I’ll try to read the other ones this year.  Maybe even the other books he’s cranked out.
  9. A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author – American Street by Ibi Zoboi NTTBF.  This looks really interesting!  I think it would be awesome to read it then hear the author speak, especially if she is from Haiti like her character is.  I took a lot of French classes in college and learned about Haiti and creole french, so I think I’ll like this, and I’d love to hear what the author has to say.
  10. A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending – Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  I’ve had this book for a long while.  I bought it because most people are supposed to read it in high school, and it’s a banned book.  I’ve had it for, like, five years, but haven’t read it yet.
  11. A book nominated for an award in 2017 – I’m not sure what I’ll read in this category.  I’ll probably wait until October and choose something that is nominated for a Goodreads award.
  12. A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner –  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  I started the audiobook for this one but never finished it.  Also, a friend of mine read it and said it was awesome.

Extra Books I would like to read this year that don’t fall under the MMD Challenge:

  • The Memory Book by Lara Avery
  •   A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
  •    Heartless by Marissa Meyer

 

Do you all have any book suggestions?  Are you doing the MMD Challenge?  Let me know in the comments!

One to Rule Them All: A Three Dark Crowns Review

One to Rule Them All: A Three Dark Crowns Review

Three Dark Queens by Kendare Blake is a young adult fantasy novel that I recently finished.  I decided to pick this one up because it was being promoted on Goodreads and looked like something I would like.  I was not disappointed.

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is the story of three sisters, triplets, who are separated at the age of six and raised by three different families on an island.  One of them will become the ruling queen of Fennbirn when they turn sixteen, and to do that, she must kill her sisters.

The three sisters are Katharine, Arsine and Mirabella.  Katharine is a poisoner.  She is supposed to be able to consume potions without any adverse side effects.  The past two queens have been poisoners, and they are not willing to give up control of the crown.  The problem is, Katharine’s gift is weak.  They have been poisoning her over and over again to try to build up her immunity.  It is not working.  Arsinoe is a naturalist.  They are able to control nature and animals and have an animal familiar. However, Arsinoe’s gift is also week, and she has not been able to do any of these things.  Mirabella is an elemental, which means she has power over the elements.  She is extremely gifted in each element, with a little trouble from water.  She is favored to win, but she is haunted by memories of her sisters and is unsure if she will be able to kill them when the time comes.

The book is written in third person and switches between the three sisters.  This means that you form attachments to each sister knowing that only one of them will survive.  I honestly don’t know which sister I am rooting for at this point.  There is something likable in all three sisters.

My absolute favorite part of this book was the ending.  If you’re reading it, and it seems to be going slow, just wait until the Quickening.  I pays off.  This is when you really get to the battle ready sisters that you expect to find when reading the summary.  And that ending…there are so many ways Blake can go with that.  I’m super excited to see what is done.

Breakdown:

  • Love Factor:  There were several couples in this story.  Each Queen has a love interest, and they range from believable to not so much.  I’m only going to name the queen in each paring so spoilers are avoided.  My favorite paring was Katharine.  She spends the most time with her beau, so they are a believable and cute match.  I could actually picture them together.  They fit.  Next was Arsenio.  Her love interest is more believable to me because it reminds me of all those stories of people who have started out as friends and bloom into something more unexpectedly.  However, this is obviously accelerated for the time span of the story.  They are a surprising match.  Then there is Mirabella’s match.  I’m 90% sure that her match isn’t a “natural” one because it makes absolutely no sense.  I do not like them together at all; it doesn’t make any since.  Honestly, I don’t think it is supposed to though.  I suspect there is nefarious reason behind that paring.
  • World building: I am not entirely satisfied with the world building here, but I understand that there is a time constraint when setting up a story.  (However, I’m inclined to be less lenient when this is the first book of a series because you can take more time to set that world up.)  The story takes place on the island of Fennbirn which is in service to a goddess.  That’s cool, and I can get behind that.  Then there is a “mainland” that suitors come from to court the queen and become her king consort.  These people are your normal, humdrum, peoples.  If this mainland takes a turn like Divergent’s “outside” did I will be so mad.  I think that’s the biggest problem I have with the world.  I’m so worried the mainland will be some modern-day wasteland, and I will be SO disappointed.
  • Series Starter:  This totally works as a series starter because I have to know what happens next.  The book ends with a big cliff hanger / twist that definitely leaves you hungry for more.  Also, there is no actual battle royale in this book that has to happen, and I really want to see that.
  • BFF:  Something I really liked was the way the sisters are portrayed as real people, not just blood thirsty machines who were raised to kill.  Mirabella and Arsinoe both majorly value friendship.  If either one of these girls thought you their friend, it would mean something.  They would be there for you even though they are going through a life threatening situation.

I give this book four stars because I am so excited to see what happens next.  I wouldn’t purchase it because I don’t think I would reread it, but once the tension started to build when the actual competition starts, it was impossible to put down.  And that last sentence!!  I reread the last page twice it just blew me away.  I love that the “shocker” made total sense.  It wasn’t something that the author was pulling to throw you for a loop and hook you for the next book.  There was foreshadowing that I didn’t even notice until I read that last line.  Then it all made since.  I’m totally looking forward to One Dark Throne.

Has anyone else read this yet?  What did you think?  Have you read anything similar that you enjoyed?  Leave it in the comments!  I’m always looking for recommendations.

If you liked this review, check out three of my other popular reviews for Red QueenCrossed Rosesand The Glittering Court.

All That Glitters is not a Diamond: The Glittering Court Review

All That Glitters is not a Diamond: The Glittering Court Review

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This photo provided by Penguin Young Readers shows the cover of the book, “The Glittering Court,” by Richelle Mead. (Penguin Young Readers via AP)

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead came out this April and I have been really excited to read it.  I have read all of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series and loved them, so I was excited to see what Mead would do in a different universe.  I added my name to the library wait list about three weeks before the book was released and finally got it about a month later.  I was not disappointed.

This book is about a countess, Elizabeth, who poses as her lady’s maid, Adelaide, to escape a financially-motivated arranged marriage.  She is taken to the Glittering Court, a finishing school where lower class women are trained to be wives of the “new nobility,” in the new world.

Breakdown:

  • Love factor:  I really liked that this didn’t have a love triangle, even though there was potential.  I loved Cedric and Adelaide together.  They are witty and passionate.  I would
  • World building:  Here is where I think The Glittering Court missed the mark.  First the setting was troubling.  This felt more like historical fiction than fantasy.  Maybe if the setting was more flushed out it wouldn’t have felt like 19th century England and the New World/California during the gold rush.  If it was to be Historical Fiction, there still needed to be some reworking of the setting, but to be fantasy there wasn’t nearly enough information to establish an entire new world and society.  Next the culture.  I would have loved to learn more about the way the gods and angels worked because (I think) they were supposed to be important, but because I didn’t know much about them they didn’t seem to mater.  I hope they make a bigger play in the next book and weren’t just there to create tension for Cedric because they seemed really interesting.  However, at 400 pages, these edits would have made the book much longer, which I wouldn’t have minded, but as a first book of the series others might have and it could have hurt future book sales.
  • Series starter:  This is the first book of a trilogy.  The only way for this to be a successful trilogy (aka the only way I will read the rest of the books) is for Mead to do like LaFevers did in her His Fair Assassins trilogy and do each book from a different girls points of view.  For the most part, Adelaide’s story is done.  What we need to know now is what secrets Mira and Tamsin are keeping.  I’d like the next book to be from Tamsin and the final from Mira.  If the next book is still about Adelaide, it will be super boring, and I definitely won’t read them.  Also,  why make the other two women super mysterious in the last chapter if she isn’t going to give us a peak into their minds
  • Favorite Quote:  It’s a tie between these two.”Before I stepped away, I looked back at the angel, back at my parents’ names. ‘Bad things are going to happen,’ my father had told me in his last year. ‘There’s no avoiding that. Our control comes in how we face them. Do we let them crush us, making us despondent? Do we face them unflinchingly and endure the pain? Do we outsmart them?’ I’d asked him what it meant to outsmart a bad thing. ‘You’ll know when the time comes. And when it does, you need to act quickly.”

    “I’m just saying that we don’t need to further petty rivalries when there’s already so much evil in the world we need to stop.”

     

Overall, I would rate this book as a Sapphire (or give it three out of five stars).  for this to be diamond level, there needed to be more everything.  More setting, more time at the school, more relationship developing between the girls and Adelaide and Cedric, just more.

Have you read The Glittering Court?  What did you think?  Leave it in the comments!  Also, if you have any recommendations, I’m always looking for my next read!

 

Weekend Wrap-Up: Dallas/Fort Worth Trip

Weekend Wrap-Up: Dallas/Fort Worth Trip

Hello!  I hope everyone’s had a lovey week/weekend.  My week is just starting back up today, now that I’m well enough to be out of bed for more than two or three hours at a time.  Last weekend, we took a family trip to Dallas and had a great time.  It was Baby Elizabeth’s first out of town trip.

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For a three hour drive, she did really well.  We brought along Frozen to keep her occupied, and she only got fussy for the last 10 to 15 minutes because it was bedtime.  There will be a post about short distance traveling with a baby and what all we packed at the end of this week.  This trip was a good test run for our trip to Disney World next month; that will be a 14 hour drive.  Here are a few highlights from our trip….

North Texas Teen Book Festival:

The reason we decided to go to Dallas this weekend was to go to the North Texas Teen Book Festival in Irving.  Like I mentioned here, I found out about the festival after a status I wrote on Facebook when I had finished Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.  We decided to go, and I tried to read as many books as I could by the authors who were going to be there.  I read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter, The Selection by Kiera Cass (who later was not able to attend NTTBF 2016), Legend and Young Elites by Marie Lu, A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Sportswood, If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessan, and Tracked by Jenny Martin (which I have not finished yet).  Nine and a half books in almost two months is pretty good, if I do say so myself.

We sat in on four panels.  The first was “Angels and Demons,” a panel of supernatural reads with battles between good and evil.  The author we were here for was D. J. MacHale.  He was the only author that my husband was really interested in seeing because he is a fan of the Pendragon series.  After listening to him speak, I have added it to my Goodreads list.  The next panel was the one I was most looking forward to because it was on my favorite type of ya fiction, “Dystopian Dynasty,” with Victoria Aveyard, Jonathan Maberry, and Jenny Martin among others.  My favorite part of this panel was the question, “Do you think you could survive your own dystopia?”  Alex London, author of Proxy which contains a dystopian society divided by class, said that he could definitely survive, if he was one of the rich people.  The third panel we did was, “Cause this is Thriller, Thriller night,” which had Gwenda Bond, whom I’d love to read more of, and Ally Carter.  Ally talked about her newest series, Embassy Row (goodreads link) which sounds really interesting.  The final panel I went to was a discussion on book blogs, so hopefully my book reviews will be a little better and more structured from here on.

This was the first big event I have done with baby Elizabeth, and I think it went pretty well.   Other than having a hard time finding a changing table (they were not in the women’s restrooms, only in the family restroom which was hidden by the service stars on the third floor), the only problems I had was her occasionally getting fussy during a panel (which would luckily happen during the Q&A at the end and all I had to do was quietly slip out the back).  This was also our first time nursing in public and that went good too.  No one was affronted (not that it would have mattered to me), and another nursing mommy even complimented me on how discrete I was.

Drive-In:

Outside of town in Ennis, there was a drive in theater.  We saw The Jungle Book and Zootopia.  They were both amazing films.  My favorite parts of The Jungle Book were the bare necessities song and the elephants.  And Zootopia?  That was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  I was a little surprised at how good it was.  My favorite part was probably the tundra scene when the wolves are talking about “the howl.”  This will probably be a movie we buy and watch (several) times with the baby.  I really wish that drive in theaters were still popular because that was a really fun experience.  We don’t have one in our area, so I think this might be something that I check for every time we take a trip now.

Fort Worth Botanical Garden and Zoo:

I was really excited to go to the Botanical Gardens in Fort Worth, specifically the rose gardens.  I really like to go on walks and read really great things about this garden over the one in Dallas.  Once we got there, we worked our way around looking at different trees and plants.  On our way to the rose gardens we saw something that made me really disappointed.  Two trees’ trucks were wrapped in about seven feet of burlap, not to protect them from the elements but from people.  Peaking from the top of the burlap, you could see where people had carved things all over the trees.  I can’t believe people would be that disrespectful to carve all over two trees in a public garden (okay I can believe it because sometimes people are the worst).  Once we got to where the rose gardens were, I noticed lots of construction and signs posted.  It turns out, all their roses got sick and died!  But even though the roses were gone, the park was still very beautiful.  My favorite thing we saw there is pictured above.  There was a sign that said “Chameleon Plant Lizard’s Tale Family” with a green lizard chilling on top of it, almost blending into the background.

We love going to the zoo on our family trips.  We went to the Dallas Zoo in January of last year, so this time we decided to go to the one in Fort Worth.  It was packed!  We had a good time looking at all the animals and dodging the bees.  Cody’s favorite animals were the monkeys.  They even had a baby ape named Gus.  My favorite animal was the elephants.  They were really cute and we got to see the smallest one swim.  If the hippos would have gotten out of their little pond, they would have been my favorite, but they were napping (maybe).  We say that this was Elizabeth’s first trip to the zoo, but she wasn’t really interested in any of it.  We held her up a few times to see things, and when we were looking at the baby ape we were up against a glass part that was big enough for her to see while still in the stroller.  Still, I think she had a good time.  When talking about our trip at work Tuesday afternoon, my boss suggested we go to the Memphis Zoo for our next weekend trip because they have pandas!

The Food:

Whenever we go out of town, the only rule we have food-wise, is that we can only eat at places we don’t have at home.  (The drive there didn’t count because I was desperate for an Angry Whopper from Burger King).

So Saturday morning when we woke up, we were going to eat at the hotel since they provide breakfast.  When we went down to the lobby, we saw the line of high schoolers and kept walking towards the doors.  Apparently there was some sort of competition in town as well as the book convention so there were tons of people there.  Like the line went all the way from the bar, across the room to the help desk.  So we drove off to The Corner Bakery for breakfast.  The food was pretty good there.  We both got pancakes and eggs with bacon for me and sausage for Cody.  For dinner that night, I either wanted Indian or Mediterranean food.  We went to a local Indian restaurant.  We had never had Indian food together, so I thought that would be fun.  We had Jerk Chicken Samosas, chicken tikka masala with rice, and a Jerk Chicken Naan-wich.  It was amazing!  I definitely see more Indian food in our future.

On Sunday we were able to eat breakfast in the hotel, then went to the gardens and the zoo.  After that we went to get sushi.  We’ve got a great local place for sushi, but when we go to big cities, we always try to find an all you can eat sushi place so we can try different types.  The best one we’ve been to was in Little Rock, Arkansas.  It was Tokyo House.  If you are a sushi fan and are there, you must go.  It is super fresh and phenomenal.

After all that weekend fun, I started feeling a little sick on the ride home.  By the time we reached the house, I felt terrible!  I got food poisoning from the sushi place we went to.  Luckily, it was just me who got sick, so my husband was able to take care of me all day Monday while I stayed home from work.  I hate being sick after a vacation because I always think that the boss won’t believe me.  I was actually sick, I didn’t need a recovery day or wasn’t extending the vacation, I promise.

So how was you weekend?  Did you do anything exciting or do you have any plans for this week/weekend?  Share them in the comments and have a great week!

Anyone Can Betray Anyone: Red Queen review

Anyone Can Betray Anyone: Red Queen review

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For part of our wedding anniversary this year, my husband and I went into a book store and picked out a book for each other.  We wanted to go to the local used bookstore in our area, but they closed super early that day, so we had to go to Barnes and Noble instead.  After looking around for an half hour, we met up again.  I chose Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson for him, and he picked out Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard for me.  It’s funny that he chose this one because I’d wanted to read it for quite some time and had just put my name on the wait list for the ebook from my public library.  After I finished it, I posted about it on Facebook and a friend told me that the author was going to be at the North Texas Teen Book Festival this year!  So I’ve been trying to read as many books as I can before we go, and I’m looking forward to meeting her and getting her to sign my anniversary present.

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Here I am in the dark car, excited about my present.

Now, on to the review:

“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

Just seeing that quote again reminds me of how much I liked this book.  This is the story of a society divided between the red bloods and the silver bloods.  The silver bloods who are the ruling class have superhuman powers that range from awesome gardening to controlling someone’s mind.  They use these powers to treat the Reds as slaves.  The story follows a Red, Mare, who goes to work in the castle.  While working there, she discovers that she has powers, in front of the entire court.  The king decides to have her live as a Silver to hide the impossible truth that a Red has powers equal to a Silver.  While masquerading as a Silver at court, she uses her position to help out the rebellion, the Scarlet Guard.

Things I liked:

1.) The whole premise.  The idea of super powers tied to blood is really interesting.  Also, I love a good dystopian novel.  A lot.  It’s probably my favorite category of young adult fiction.  This is convenient too cause these are super popular right now.

2.) Queen Elara – She is definitely a villain I love to hate.  On one hand, her wickedness came from an understanding place, but on the other hand, she was super wicked!  I’d love to learn more about her relationship to Cal’s mom.

3.) Jason –  I really liked Jason.  I thought she was going to try to make him a love interest, which I would have preferred to Maven and Kilorn, but it’s fine that he wasn’t.  I also like that he was grounded.  Mare did something that upset him, but he didn’t just move on and forgive her and play nice.

4.) The throne room scene at the end.  I can’t say too much about this because of spoilers, but I really liked this scene.  It was very intense and I think it will look great on screen when this is made into a movie.  It will probably be my favorite scene in the movie.

5.) Shade – Also can’t say much here cause spoilers.

Thing I wasn’t a huge fan of:

1.) Farley.  I’m not sure if I like Farley.  Maybe reading “Steel Scars,” will change my feelings towards her.  I understand that she is the leader of a rebellion, so she has to be hard.  I also understand that she can’t trust everyone and go with what everyone says.  I just don’t like the hostility between her and Mare.  Why can’t they be friends?  There is no reason they can’t be; Mare isn’t opposing the rebellion.  It is possible for two strong females to be friends.  Hopefully in the second book their relationship will change.

2.) The love triangle/pyramid.  I just really didn’t buy the relationships here.  Let me explain:

Maven.  I know there are several people who are very fond of Maven.  I’m sure I would have been a bigger fan if I had the right mental picture of him.  When he was introduced as Cal’s little brother, combined with the struggles to get out of his brother’s shadow, it pained him as a much younger boy in my mind.  So whenever he and Mare would have “moments” together, I would be taken aback because I kept thinking he was twelve instead of seventeen.

Kilorn.  I don’t buy this relationship.  I know he is there to create the “necessary” love triangle between him, Mare, and Cal, but I didn’t feel that this relationship was flushed out enough for me to buy it.  I think that Kilorn is her best friend and those love/friend feelings are being mistaken for love/partner feelings, which happens.

Cal.  I really like Cal.  I think he is a very flushed out character.  I really feel like he is just trying to do the right thing with the hand he has been dealt.  I think he honestly cares for Mare (Maven may or may not), while he also cares for his kingdom.  And that scene with him and his father towards the end?  That just sealed it.

 

That being said, I’d give this book a solid 3.5 stars, and I’ll give it 4 stars if Glass Sword is good too.  (I know it seems wrong for a different book to effect the rating of this book, but if the next one is bad, it will make me like this one less.)

If you’re interested in what I’m reading, or seeing my other reviews that may not make it to the blog, check me out on Goodreads.  Have any of you read Red Queen?  Leave what you thought about it in the comments!

 

Save Haven Review aka Nicholas Sparks Weekend Part Two

Save Haven Review aka Nicholas Sparks Weekend Part Two

The second book I read in my Nicholas Sparks weekend (fourth I’ve ever read) was Save Haven.  I had already seen the movie, so there were no surprises, but I still really liked this one.  I loved the characters and the romance between Alex and Katie was very sweet.

I’m giving this one 4 Stars.

Alex’s character was probably my favorite.  He was awesome.  I really liked how dedicated he was to his children.  I know that this is a romance, but I love that when there was trouble, he was always worried about the kids first and Katie second.  That’s the way you would expect a parent, especially a single parent, to react.  He was very real.

But, here is the reason it didn’t get that fifth star.

Kevin is a little unbelievable.  Not that domestic violence isn’t unbelievable.  I know that it is a real problem, and I know that there are situations similar to Katie’s where the abuser is in authority, and it is almost impossible to escape.  My problem isn’t with the situation, it is with the character himself.

Spoiler Alert here.  Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to ruin anything.  If you’ve seen the movie and plan on reading the book, this wont spoil anything.

Considering how much vodka he was drinking he didn’t get alcohol poising until the very end of the book?  I don’t know much about alcohol poising and tolerance, but I feel like he should have gotten sick a long time before that.  Also, why didn’t he bleed out before she shot him?  His head, arm, and hands were bleeding but he was still able to put up a remarkable fight.

And the probability of Kevin finding her alias the way he did…yeah right.  I could see it all up until she was like, “she even looks like her, they were the same age and everything.”  This dude is a stranger.  At most you would say my parents really liked your wife.  She reminded them of my sister who is no longer with us.  The end.

Also, this book really reminded me of that Jennifer Lopez movie Enough.  Like it was eerily similar, but still different enough to not make it a rip off.

So over all I really enjoyed this one.  Have you read Save Haven?  What did you think?  Leave it in the comments below.