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Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar (Netgalley Review)

Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar is a delightful book written as the diary of artist Vanessa Stephen. It details the lives of those artists and thinkers that made up the Bloomsbury Set. This group included Virginia Woolf (Vanessa's sister), Lytton Strachey, and John Maynard Keynes, along with Vanessa and her brothers. The diary, while fictional, feels real in every aspect. The writing was well done and kept me reading. 

I really enjoyed this book and the author took fictional liberties in all the right ways. The story felt complex and real, much like life, while still held onto its integrity. I found that I was eager to pick up the story or to keep reading. I think most readers will enjoy it. 

The book looked at all aspects of the lives of the Bloomsbury Set. Not just their art and work, but also their lifestyle choices and relationships. This group was very intermingled in all aspects and the author's choice to use diary form helped to keep everyone straight. The…

NaNoWriMo Update

I didn't finish. In fact I think I only wrote for one weekend. I had way to much going on in November to add this. I think I might try again in March, when I am not so busy. 
I hope that if you participated you were able to finish!

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning lived up to its name. The book is the story of a young boy named Benny who dreams of owning a dog and an old lady named Bess who dreams of taking a dog to the Westminster dog show. The two are neighbors and meet because Benny thinks he keeps hearing a puppy and follows the noise to Bess’s kennel.

Benny is a student at a school for kids with issues and spends a lot of time with school’s founder and psychiatrist, Dr. Kate. I read in several other reviews that Benny was autistic. I never got that impression from the book, but I might have missed it. (If you read it, let me know your thoughts.)

It took me a while to get into this book (I was about halfway done, before I wanted to pick it up each time), but I was glad that I finished it. I recommend it, if you like watching The National Dog Show each Thanksgiving. ( Side note: did you see the Min Pin escape artist this year?)

Anyway, would I recommend this book? Probably. Given the right audience (dog…

I'm All About The Books

I don't think I mentioned it here, but I took the Goodreads challenge this year and committed to reading 50 books in 2014. I am happy to announce that I completed that goal. (Warning this post contains affiliate links to Amazon - I will mark them with *.)

While I have reviewed a lot of those books on this blog throughout the year, I thought I would make a list, superlative style, to give you a run down of everything I consumed. 

My MVS (Most Valuable Series) goes to the Chop Chop books by L.N. Cronk. They make up nine(!) of my books. The first book in the series Chop Chop* and it is free for Kindle. This is the book that sucked me in, I downloaded and started reading it over the summer I finished it quickly (its 202 pages) and needed more about the characters. (Sidenote: I love books that cover the whole of character(s) lives. This series does that.) Following the series, there are two stand-alone companion books. I only read one - Remind Me* (which is only 70 pages). 

My Longest Rea…

The Walled City by Ryan Gaudin

The Walled City by Ryan Gaudin is a fast-paced, heart-wrenching, adrenaline fueled race against the clock. 

The Walled City sucks you and doesn't let you out. Three teenagers have found themselves trapped there: one enslaved, one searching for her sister and one trying to escape his past. Survival is the goal, escape is the fantasy. It will take all of them to do it.

The book is based on the real life walled city which was located in Hong Kong. This slum developed inside of an old fort. It was run by one man, a drug kingpin. To take down the slum, they had take down the man. 

I really enjoyed this novel and was more fascinated by its origin. Gaudin did a great job changing the narration and moving the story along. No detailed was missed and the story was next to impossible to put down. I really loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone. 

There is some human slavery and prostitution that may be a too mature for some audiences.

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publis…

NaNoWriMo 2014

Hi friends! I am trying (again) to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. 

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo is a movement to get people to write more. The goal is to write 50,000 words on a novel in the month of November. For more info click the pic link.

I should tell you that I love to write fiction. I don't really do anything with it and I highly doubt that I would ever get a novel published. All that to say that, I am going to be writing on that more. I don't know if that will definitely mean that I won't post as much her, but it may. 

I will try to pop in each week to let you know how it is going. 

I think I am going to work on something I already have going, so I already have 12,334 words. If I write another 50,000, I'll be pretty impressed with myself.

Are any of you participating?

Hit by Lorie Ann Grover

My most recent BookLookBlooger book is Hit by Lorie Ann Grover.
Eighteen year-old Sarah is a senior in high school when graduate student, Mr. Haddings, becomes poet in residence at her high school. While sitting in his poetry class Sarah falls in love with him. Despite his efforts to rebuff Sarah and squash whatever feelings they may have for each other, Sarah is determined to express herself to him. She sets off to school one rainy day with her poetry in her back pocket. Sarah accidentally drops the poem while crossing the street and goes back to retrieve it.
Mr. Haddings looks away from the road for a moment and doesn’t see the girl in the crosswalk. He hears the thud and its too late. What has he done?
Hit by Lorie Ann Grover tells Sarah and Mr. Haddings stories. Their lives are forever entertwined in that fateful moment in the rain. Will Sarah live and have the same kind of life she was headed towards? Will Mr. Haddings own what he has done or run away in fear? Will anyone be able t…

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Remember when I reviewed Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger earlier this month? Well, when Netgalley gave me the opportunity to review the second book in the series, Curtsies and Conspiracies, and couldn't pass it up.

These books are some of the most fun reads I have had all year. They are beautiful, steampunk, young adult fiction that will keep you guessing how they are going to end. I love that these books are such a dramatic departure from my typical reading. They are filled with new words, some real, some not (I used my dictionary feature more with these books that most I read).

Curtsies and Conspiracies picks up the story of Sophronia Temminick after she has returned to Madame Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Girls of Quality. Her debut class undergoes their first big testing and the results are interesting. Sophronia soon has to figure out who her friends really are and who will be on her side when things take a turn for the different. 

Another interesting part…

Hay! Stop Being so Corny!

Over the weekend Pop Rocks and I enjoyed some family fun at a local corn maze. We went with our niece and several other adults. While we had fun, we did not have enough fun to justify the cost of admission. 

It was a bit of a racket. It cost us well over $20 to get in and while there were lots of activities included in that price, the only three that were not purely kid themed were the petting zoo, Corn Maze and the Hey! Hey! Hayride. I think the price should be considerably higher for kids than for adults.

This particular corn maze had their own currency which could be purchased when you paid for admission. We opted not to get any as we couldn't see that we would want it. Here was the kicker - there were pony rides, which was super exciting to the kids - but they looked like they were free. There was no sign saying they cost anything extra. So the guy doing the pony rides would wait until it was just about time to get on - while kids have been standing excitedly in line - and then …

Min Pin Monday - 10.13.14

Its been awhile since we've had a Min Pin Monday post! I finally have a camera that I can actually get some pictures of the pups with, again. 

Don't let this picture fool you...


That my friends is the picture of entitlement. Back in the spring we started a evening routine of a teeth cleaning treat after dinner we decided to see if a teeth cleaning treat every day would help keep some chompers shiny. It worked for one of the little guys, but mama can't give one a treat without giving both a treat. 
The results are somewhere between ridiculous and adorable. See, Mary always moped around for the two hours leading up to dinner, if we're home. Now, she eats her dinner and then stands in that corner staring at the treat bag until she gets one. I didn't immediately realize what she was doing but, it became apparent the night I forgot to get her a treat. She stood, in the dark, staring for about two hours. I thought she was in the other room on the couch. 
Also, it should be n…

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Readers first meet 14 year old Sophronia when she is in her family's dumbwaiter trying to ease drop on one of her mother's visitors. This does not go as planned and Sophronia soon finds herself whisked away to finishing school.




This is a fun novel. It is important to note that it is a steampunk novel set in the victorian era. This adds to its charm, but took a bit to understand.

Unknowingly Sophronia has stumbled into a life very different than what she and her mother thought she would be getting at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. 

I really liked Gail Carriger's Etiquette and Espionage. The plot was fun and engaging. There was no sappy plot line that led to Sophronia in the middle of a love triangle. It was just the adventures of a spunky young girl trying to grow up and not lose herself. 

The plot was interesting and kept me guessing. There were several loose ends that I would guess will be tied up in the series later books. The mai…

Late Night Questions

"Are you heading to bed soon? If so, are you going to go to bed in a clean and organized bedroom, with happy kids in your home? Are you going to lie down feeling totally content and satisfied with your day? Happy with the direction your life is headed? "If not, Erin, then please don't waste another day like this. You were meant for more!!"
I got this email the other weekend. I thought I would share my (somewhat annoyed and a bit sarcastic) answers here:
Are you heading to bed soon? Yes - I am. For the record, I happened to check my email right before bed the day I received this. I don't normally do that, nor do I normally open the emails from this company. But, I needed to take Mary out (in the rain) and was trying to give Will a chance to relax and not scream about not getting to go outside. 
If so, are you going to bed in a clean and organized bedroom?No - I am not. I have enjoyed my day of total rest (the first in twelve days) and did not bother to clean and orga…

Rebels (Safelands #3) by Jill Williamson

Rebels is the conclusion to the Safelands trilogy by Jill Williamson. The first two books, Captives and Outcasts, were good and I was eager to read Rebels. It did not disappoint. If you haven’t read the first two books, be warned that this will likely contain spoilers for them.





Picking up where Outcastsleaves off, we find that the Glenrock remnant is headed underground. Mason and Omar are headed for liberation which most think means death. Levi now fully bears the mantle of leadership for his people and it is a heavy burden. The Owl figure who Omar created to show truth to the Safe-Landers will have to be resurrected with help from the Kindred. The Kindred are the underground group of which rebel leader, Ruston, is a member. They welcome the Glenrock remnant, but not fully. Shaylinn especially will have to figure out these new, tenuous relationships.

Rebels was full of plot twists and turns. I don’t want to give anything away, but it was definitely a fast-paced read. I didn’t want to …

Life Together

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."On the contrary:  "If your enemy is hungry, feed him,  If he is thirsty, …

Nashville Season Three: What I Know

Sometimes, I see things when they are shooting "Nashville" (the TV show) around Nashville (the city). I love that the show is shot here in town and think that it adds a great level of authenticity to it. So here are a few things I've noticed recently:

1. There is a scene in a red car. Well, that or someone was shooting a music video. But it was interesting to see how it was shot. The red car (it was sporty looking, but I think it was sedan not a convertible) was on the bed of a trailer with the crew and equipment. Two cars (another sedan and an SUV) were following. 

2. There is a detention center involved. I saw the sign on a building that is not a detention center, so there's that. 

3. Michael Logen (an alumni of my university) and a fabulous singer/songwriter recorded some music and interview for the show. This MAKES my day. Logen is one of my favorites and I can't wait to see what happens with his music! 

So anyway I am super stoked about the Season Three premier …

How to Pick Up a Stripper by Todd and Erin Stevens

I first heard about Todd and Erin Stevens two months ago in the local newspaper. There was a profile on Erin's work in starting Nashville Strip Church and I was intrigued. That afternoon I received an email from BookLook that their book How to Pick Up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness would be available for review beginning in July. I marked the date and waited. 

This excellent book is part of the Refraction series which is targeted at Millennial Christians (me!) and How to Pick up a Stripper is about evangelism. This is not a book about how we need to go out and shout at people to try and convert them. This is a book about developing a relationship and a reputation with your community so that you can reach them for Christ. There are practical tips for building relationships, for bolstering your reputation (and that of the church as a whole) and for reaching out to those who need to find a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The title comes from the Erin Stevens experience starting…

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is the story of three 30-somethings who find themselves involved in the underworld of society. No, not that underworld - the one that involves a cabal of powerful people trying to take over the lives of everyone and the group of regular folks who are trying to stop them. These three characters must determine who they are and what they are willing to do in order to stay on the right side of history. 

This is no easy task as decisions that they make affect their family's, careers and even their future romantic interests. This story will kidnap your attention and take you on a wild ride, you won't soon forget. 

I highly recommend this book. The characters were believable and relatable. I found myself fully invested in the decisions they made as each took their specific courses of action. It also made me think twice about what I post on the internet and how much information is put into the hands of corporate America. 

Here's my warning though - there is a lo…

Min Pin Monday

Can you find the Min Pin in the picture?

About Last Week

Last week was a rough week. It wasn’t that something terrible happened (okay, actually there were two pieces of terrible news), it was just a lot of little things compounding into stress. For example: I didn’t get enough sleep Monday night which led to a rough rest of the week; I looked down at my odometer and it was at 222223; and it was HOT here, which never helps.
By the time I got home from work on Friday night, I was beat. I wanted nothing more than to lay down and not get up until I could do so without a foggy head. I got up Saturday morning and worked out, which made me feel better. At the very least I feel like I have accomplished something for the day. Then I had some errands to run. I voted (early) and got my haircut. I did some light housework and had lunch with someone very dear to me. I got home and finished laundry and then sat down to relax about the time Pop Rocks got home from work. It was a great day and I felt better having gotten so much done. But, I was still tire…

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

I recently received an advanced copy of The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. The story focuses on the Bird family, specifically matriarch Lorelai. She has a problem with hoarding that grows worse as she ages. The four children Meg, Bethan, Rory and Rhys and their father, Colin, each face issues of their own particularly after a family members death. The book details the spiral of the family members. 

The House We Grew Up In was beautifully written and well constructed. While it bounced back and forth between the characters past and present with different perspectives on each part of their lives, the story was cohesive and never left me confused as to who was narrating and what was happening. The story followed an obvious trajectory as it waded through three different eras. 

The plot though led the characters into deeper and darker corners of themselves and the world. This was what I didn't like about the book. I don't like to go into corners as deep and dark as the ones Jewel…

Min Pin Monday: 7.21.14

What do you do when your little brother won't leave you alone?

Take a page from the Cat Handbook and climb to the top of the sofa and sit, of course!


Lately

I want to update you, my dear readers, but the truth is that I don't have a lot going on right now. So I thought I would let know some of the boring stuff going on right now. 

*There are some affiliate links here, because, why not?

I've been watching 7th Heaven which showed up on Hulu Plus* in June. I loved this show in middle and high school. While I was Simon's age when the show aired, I always related most to Lucy and adored Ruthie. It's a great show, you should definitely check it out. You should note that the show (which has 11 seasons) started in 1996 and references a lot of topics that were hot button issues in those days.

I'm currently reading 4 books! I don't really know what happened. I am also 3 books behind on my Goodreads challenge for 2014. (Follow me at that link!) I am reading The House We Grew Up In* by Lisa Jewell and will review it sometime in August - it releases on August 27. I am trying to finish Quitter* by Jon Acuff. I have been reading thi…