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Monday, December 29, 2014

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

(via)
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. There was also a helpful character guide in the beginning of the book, which I referenced often.

The book releases tomorrow, if you are interested in reading it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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 lovers or lovers of determined kids) it will be a huge hit. I love dogs, so the dog show aspect was fascinating. I love determined kids and the insight into everything that Benny was trying to overcome was intriguing as well. This story doesn’t have much action and it takes a long time to build to the excitement.


Finally, I was a bit confused by the ending. While I understood what happened, it was like there was chunk of the story missing and I didn’t know how it went from plot point A to B.


This book releases on January 4.

I received an advance copy of the book for free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

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 Read was Quitter* by Jon Acuff. This was the second time I have started this book. The irony was not lost on me. I really liked it and highly recommend it for everyone. While it is marketed for those who are considering quitting their jobs to pursue their dreams, I thought it was good at whatever career stage you are living. I left this book in my car and would read a little bit each time I had a to let my car warm-up. 

My Most Recommended book was Love Story: The Hand That Holds Us From the Garden to the Gate* by Nichole Nordeman. I even bought this as a birthday gift for someone. Nordeman's fresh look at old Bible Stories coupled with her honesty and transparency will give you a new way to look at the world. I can't say enough good things about this book. I am chomping on the bit to re-read it, but I am waiting to do it in the new year.

My Most World-View Changing book was  The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carlson(runner-up to Most Recommended). This book changed my view of things and put a new perspective onto a lot of the news. The link is to my full review, check it out for more information.

There is definitely a tie for the Wish I Hadn't Read It category. Stanley and Sophie* was one I picked up off the clearance rack at my favorite used book store. We had adopted Will a month earlier and I thought I might glean some wisdom, spoiler alert, I didn't. It was kind of a let down. While I initially like Glitter and Glue the more time since I read it the more ridiculous it seemed. I don't know why, but I would now call it unrelateable. Two fiction books found their way into this category as well. The Right Thing by Amy Conner was great and then it wasn't. I love the first part of the book when it was a recounting of the main character's childhoods. But then it got a bit bizarre and very adult and I wish that I hadn't read it. It was well written and a great read, but a bit too inappropriate for me. The other fiction book I didn't like was The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. It was not a pleasant experience for me as it was dark and awful. Plus, I had a hard time reading it, like had ago force myself to continue to read, hoping the whole time for an ending with would justify the plot. Hint - there isn't one.

My Least Favorite Book of the year was far and away I've Never Been to Vegas, but My Luggage Has by Mandy Hale. While I wasn't expecting to relate to Hale as an author (she is the blogger at The Single Woman), I figured I could appreciate where she was coming from with her writing. The book is basically her memoir of overcoming some very difficult issues (panic/anxiety and an abusive relationship), then making a vision board and having everything on it come true in a year. While she says that God was making everything come true for her, it seemed a bit unrealistic and braggy, at least to me. As I said in my review, check out my friend Brenda's review for a different perspective on this book.  

The Funniest Book I read all year was definitely Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me and Other Concerns* by Mindy Kaling. While I wouldn't recommend this book to my mom or a teenage girl, I definitely recommend it if you are a fan of The Mindy Project. I couldn't read it in bed, because I laughed too much.

My Most Anticipated Release of the year was definitely Allegiant by Veronica Roth. If you at all in tune to the Divergent Series (this is book three), then you may know that most readers fall into one of two camps - it was great or I didn't like it. I didn't like it. The story switched narrators a lot and I had a hard time keeping up with who was talking. 

My Favorite Series this year was the Safelands* Series by Jill Williamson. Book One is Captives and you must start there. To give any information would be to spoil the fun. Book Three was runner up of the Most Anticipated release of the year. The runner-up in this category was the Aggie's Inheritance Series by Chautona Havig. My Kindle recommended these books to me after I read the Chop-Chop series. They are delightfully long. (I love long books, especially on the beach.) Book One is Ready or Not*. Warning: there are some definite cheese-ball moments in this book, but push through!

So there was one book that falls into a Read-It-And-Liked-It-Thought-About-It-And-Got-Mad category. That book is For Such a Time by Kate Breslin. It was an Esther inspired World War II story. In my review, I recommended it for those who like historical fiction, but the book is really historically inaccurate. While most of the story could have happened, the ending most definitely did not. After I reviewed it and processed this part of the story more closely and realized that I was really unhappy about this turn of events. 

Another book Didn't Live Up to Its Hype. That was The Fault in Our Stars* by John Green. I was thoroughly unimpressed with this book. If I had mapped the plot it would have been one straight line.

The Whole New Genre award goes to Gail Carriger's Finishing School books. It starts with Etiquette and Espionage. These books were so much fun to read, I can't wait to get caught up on my reading and read book three. 

My Beach Reading this year was Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank. This was a fantastic book and I recommend it if you are a fan of Frank's other work or of The Help. I just realized that this is the first book in a series, though it seems that each of the books stand alone. Frank's books always remind me of home and, IMO, are best read with sand in between your toes.

In the Books by Friends category this year was A Different Path by Nicole Schenz. This book was very well written and great quick read. 

In the Books I Wish I Had Written category I am placing A Charmed Life by Jenny B. Jones. This (really big) book is three books in one and was an absolute blast to read. I tore through a chunk of it while waiting at the tire shop. It totally redeemed those three hours.

Those are the highlights. Here is a quick re-cap of the rest of the books I read. The links are to bigger reviews. 

The Sinner's Garden by William Sirls - great read about redemption and God's Love. I liked it.

Rain Song* by Alice J. Wisler - takes you back to the 1990s, fun, but sad. I liked it. 

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski - YA book that was a fun read. I liked it.

The Here and Now by Anne Brashares - the newest novel from the author of the Pants series. Involves time travel. I really liked it and hope there is a sequel.

Runaway Saint by Lisa Samson - really great book highly recommend for gals my age. It was a great story about love and family and secrets. There were lots of great quotes in this book. I really liked it.

Dog Gone Back Soon by Nick Trout - fun read for this dog lover. I liked it.

Then and Always by Dani Atkins - set in the UK so some funny words. Great story, keeps you guessing and makes you think. This story has stayed with me. I loved this book. 

Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg - This is Book Two in the Where Love Begins series. I am loving the entire series.

How She Does It by Anne Bogel - this non-fiction is about work life balance and load sharing. A great read, I can't recommend it enough. I loved this book. 

The Last Summer (of You and Me)* by Anne Brashares - very sad and hard to read (emotionally). Definitely not beach reading. It was okay.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer - Fun and entertaining read. Definitely an adult book, lots of language and adult themes. I really liked it.

How to Pick up a Stripper by Todd and Erin Stevens - This book about servant evangelism was life changing. I really liked it.

True Colors* by Kristin Hannah - I intended this to be a beach read, but didn't get to it in time. It was okay, but not very beachy. I liked it.

Appalachian Serenade* by Sarah Loudin Thomas - It was ok. It felt predictable and trite. It falls in a genre I don't usually like and I read it anyway. I wouldn't bother with it, unless you like Amish Fiction.

Hit by Lorie Ann Glover - This is a good book. What does grace look like when you get hit by a car? I really liked it.

Silence* by Natasha Preston - Fascinating book. Went where I was hoping it wouldn't, but did it gracefully. I really liked it.

Almost Perfect* by Diane Daniels Manning - I haven't reviewed it yet, but I liked it.

The Walled City* by Ryan Graudin - (update) I haven't reviewed this one yet, either. Find my review here. I loved it.

I am going to assume that if you have made it this far, you care about my reading habits. I am not done for the year. I am currently reading Gone Girl* by Gillian Flynn, Motherless* by Erin Healy, and Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar. I am also still working my way through Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. So I think I will make my stretch goal of 52 books!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Walled City by Ryan Gaudin

(Via)
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 publisher in exchange for an honest review. I really did love this book. I reviewed this book through NetGalley.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo
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?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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 to forgive?

Grover alludes to the fact that Hit is based a true story in the preface of her book, which made it even more interesting as a read. The story is fast-paced and filled with emotion. The narrator’s perspective switches between the two main characters, but I never found it confusing. Each section is fairly short, making it a great book to read in spurts.

I appreciated the way that Grover allowed her characters to have real emotions and feelings about the situation. Nothing felt sugar coated or glossed over. True anger was just that. There were several areas that never concluded. The story takes place over only a few days and is truly a snapshot of those days. The things that had happened in the family before these moments and the things that will happen after are left, relatively, untouched. While appreciated this aspect, it frustrated me some. I wanted to know what had led the tension in some of the relationships and if it would be resolved.

I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it. It is short enough that it could be read in one sitting, but could easily be chopped up and read in spurts. I hope you enjoy it too!

A copy of this book was provided to my by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I really did like this book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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 of the book was the interest shown to Sophronia from a young man who has joined the school (along with his professor and several other students). Can Sophronia figure out his intentions? Does he really have any or is he just practicing his skills in flirtation?

Of course, Sophronia also gets herself into a heap of trouble along the way because of her insatiable curiosity, her unlikely friendships and her inability to stay out of other people's business.

This was a great book. I can't wait for book three to come out on November 5!

A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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 start lining them up and letting parents know that is an additional $5. Oh and he only takes cash, not the special currency that you already purchased. WHAT????

I was glad that I wasn't having to cough up the extra money, but seriously! That is ridiculous.

This was my first experience with a corn maze/pumpkin patch. Is that what they are all like? I was really excited about the whole thing, but was severely disappointed with the experience. Maybe I will try a different one, but I for sure won't be going back to that place.

(And please, don't get me started on the cost of the pumpkins!)  

Monday, October 13, 2014

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 noted that there was no treat in my hand when I was taking this picture. I was just trying to get a picture of Mary and Will assumed it was treat time and sat down (their trick for their treat). 

See ridiculously adorable!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

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 main plot points, however, were finished and made this a stand alone book. I will probably be looking into the rest of the series (book three comes out November 5!) and the one that came before it, but is set later.

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

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 organize my bedroom today. 

With happy kids in your home? No - I do not have kids. But, hey thanks for thinking that I am less of a woman because of that one fact. I do have two dogs, a husband who works really hard, a full-time job outside of the home, and a rich family life on both sides. My life and plate are completely full.

Are you going to lie down feeling totally content and satisfied with your day? Yes - I am! I have enjoyed a day of doing nothing in fact... I read one whole book and parts of two other books. I snuggled with my min-pins. I worked outside. I spent time with my husband's family celebrating our September birthdays (there are five of them and an anniversary!). And for the first time in a while I feel de-stressed and relaxed. 

Happy with the direction your life is headed? Actually, yes! You see, you may think my life is a disaster (I think you think this because of your follow-up statement, "please don't waste another day like this. You were meant for more!!"), but I happen to like it. I am married to the most wonderful man in the world and we have so much love for each other, it might make some people sick. We have two amazing dogs that fill our home with happiness, excitement and joy. We don't have our future figured out, but that's because we don't know what it holds. We trust that Someone Else has a plan for our future and will work it out for us.

So no, I won't be buying your product, but I will be going to bed in a room that is messy and chaotic, but filled with love. In a bed that doesn't ever get made so that Mary and Will can find a place to chill when they need it. I will enjoy not having kids, because once it happens, I won't ever be able to do it again. I will lay down with a content sigh and a prayer of thanksgiving for all that I have had the privilege to do today. And I will rejoice that I don't have to have all of life's answers. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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 Outcasts leaves 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 put it down and when I had to, I kept finding myself wondering what was going to happen. Something I have mentioned before, Williamson continually changes the perspective of the story. I liked this as it provided a complete story that showed what each character was facing. This was handled very well and I never once had to figure out who the focus was on at any point.

I highly recommend this trilogy. It draws from the story of Daniel in the Bible and his experiences in Babylonian captivity. There are lots of other themes throughout the series, but I like that the themes of loving others (espcially those who have a different lifestyle) and family are the most resonant. Rebels was a great conclusion to the story and really seemed to wrap up all of the loose ends that come from the other books.  

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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, give him something to drink.
In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.


When I read this passage early this year it hit me like a ton of bricks. This was it. This was the secret to living. I read and read it. Then I walked away and started to forget about it.

Recently heartbreak has been entering the lives of our loved ones (our framily) and this verse keeps coming to mind. 


Mourn with those who mourn. 


We mourn with each other because it helps to know that others hearts have broken because of your broken heart. It makes the road of life easier to travel on when there is someone with you to hold you up, when you want to sit down, cry and just stop going.

Friday, September 12, 2014

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 on September 24. Its on abc, in case you weren't sure where to find it. If I'm ever an extra I will be sure to let you know about. Also, if I ever happen to run into Connie Britton or Hayden Panetierre in the mall, I will be sure to let you know. 

I'm off to make a note to start going to the mall more regularly. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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 Nashville Strip Church. God called her to begin ministering too and serving the girls who were dancing. Through this ministry several girls have become Christians and their church has had the opportunity to minister to them and help them as they change their lives and destinies.

There was so much covered in this book that made me evaluate myself, my beliefs and my Christian life. I cannot recommend this book enough to those of you who want to help others find Christ. The important thing to remember is that for our generation, many will be in that category. I read this book slowly so that I could savor and fully grasp what the Stevens were explaining. I want to be the person that helps lead others to Christ. I definitely recommend this book for everyone, but especially for our generation.

A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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 lot of language in this book that could be offensive to you. Please realize that this is an adult book and not a YA book so the author's choices reflect the genre. If you can look past the language or it doesn't bother you then I would definitely suggest you read it. Its like Hunger Games meets James Bond meets Thank you for Smoking.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot releases today from Mulholland Books.

A copy of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was given to me for review by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Min Pin Monday

Can you find the Min Pin in the picture?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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 tired and still had a lot to do.

Sunday we had to do yard work and then we spent time with family. It was great, but by the time we got home I had to sleep. It helped me feel better.

What do you do to recharge your batteries? The thing that helped the most was the opportunity to sit and read a book between voting and getting my haircut. I planned for there to be a line, but also got there right when the polls opened, so I had a window of time.

The good news is that this is a new week and I got to sleep last night :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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 Jewell negotiates. It was a bit unsettling to me and made it hard to keep picking up the book. It took me a long time to finish this book. (So long in fact that I am now 4 books behind schedule on my Goodreads challenge.) I can't, in good conscience, recommend this book as it was so grisly. However, you may have a tolerance for such subjects. If not consider this fair warning.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell releases on August 27.

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this post are my own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

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!


Friday, July 11, 2014

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 this for a while. Its great, but I tend to get distracted when reading non-fiction. I really recommend it, even if you have a job you love and don't want to leave. I am also loving How to Pick up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness* by Todd and Erin Stevens. This book is fabulous and is really challenging me. In fact it has altered the way I pray in the morning. I will be reviewing this one as well, once I get it finished. Finally, I started Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett the other day. I didn't intend to start it, but I did and the first chapter really made me want to keep reading. Although it was raw and different from how I lived at the girls age, I could relate in a lot of ways.

I think I am going to dedicate this weekend to reading.

I started sewing back in the fall and into the winter. I love it, but stopped after we went on vacation. Pop Rock's grannie told me that it was ok, she always like to sew better in the colder weather. I'll pick it back up soon. I only have so many hours in the day and I need to spend more time reading (see above). I did make some really cute necklaces to sell, but I haven't sold them yet. Hopefully soon…

Finally, what inspired this post, I wrote a post that I didn't publish sort of about politics and religion. Topics I don't generally get involved with here or in many conversations. Then this post came out and I was like, that's what I was trying to say. So go read it instead. In fact, I had titled my post, "The Gray."

Anyway, I hope that you all have a great weekend. Enjoy yourself, whatever that looks like for you!