Tag Archives: review

BlogHer Book Club Review: Born Wicked

It’s not often that I get selected to read and review a book for the BlogHer Book Club, so I was thrilled when I was selected to participate in their latest book, “Born Wicked” by Jessica Spotswood.  This is the first in a series of books, known as The Cahill Witch Chronicles.  I will admit that it did make me wonder if all YA fiction these days has to be in a series… is there such a thing as a stand-alone novel anymore?

This is the story of a broken family… three teenaged girls who have recently lost their mother, their grieved and often absent father and various household staff.  Cate is the eldest sister and she takes it on her shoulders to protect her sisters.  And why do they need protection?  The girls are all witches, something they inherited from their mother and that their father is unaware of.  And their society doesn’t tolerate witches… being outed as a witch can result in imprisonment, banishment or even death.  The ultra-religious Brotherhood, who serve as the leadership for their society hunt out witches with fierce intensity.

I was a bit confused about the setting and time for this story.  It read a lot like historical fiction, but obviously events in this story don’t reflect actual historical events.  That’s when I learned that this book represents a genre known as “alternate history fiction”.  It is set around the turn of the century and seems to hinge on the question, “What would happen if the persecution of witches in New England didn’t stop in the 1700’s?”  It also, of course, relies on the belief that witches were indeed real.

While this premise was definitely intriguing, I found I had a hard time getting into the story.  However, if you can make it through the first few chapters, you will find yourself sucked into the book and the pages will fly by.  Is this as strong a story as “The Hunger Games”?  Probably not.  But it certainly far out-paces “Twilight”, so if you’re looking for a YA novel that will challenge and stimulate you, definitely give “Born Wicked” a try. If nothing else, the message of rebelling against the repressive male establishment and finding your inner wild girl is a great one for women of all ages.

I have been compensated by the BlogHer Book Club for this review, however the opinions above are my own.  Please join in the discussion over at BlogHer! 

What the what now?

This has been quite a… week.  Poor Kile has been so busy with work and it has stressed him out to no end.  And you know, when Papa ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.  But the good news is that the week is nearly over.  The poor guy has earned a restful weekend, don’t you think?

Other than that, things have been pretty normal.  As I said before, I’m feeling better.  Of course, I’m out of the sample pills the endocrinologist gave me two weeks ago, but I go see her tomorrow and I’ll definitely be getting hooked up with a new prescription.  So YAY on that for me.  I’m both nervous of the appointment tomorrow and a little excited.  I’m kinda curious as to what my blood work said.  How bad off WAS I?

So lets do a short round of updates:

  • I still don’t understand Google +.  Seriously.  What am I missing here?  Why does it have to be so complicated??  It looks like it’s simple and clean but yet somehow I’m still not getting it.  Am I really that stupid?
  • I’m still obsessed with Pinterest.  What a wonderful, horrible time-suck that site is.  SO many pretty things to look at.
  • I have invites for both so if you are feeling up to the Google + challenge or need something pretty to look at instead of being productive, let me know and I’ll shoot you an invite.
  • We put a new doorknob on Liam’s bedroom door.  But we put the lock on the outside.  So we can lock him in at night.  So evil.  But so effective.  Because last week with him running rampant was hellish.
  • I’ve still got Disney Junior in time out.  Why the HELL can’t Disney of all companies not afford giving Disney Junior its own channel?  Come on!  We’ve been watching PBS instead because if we watch Disney Junior and then switch over to PBS at 10am when Disney Junior decides it’s Big Kid Time, then all hell breaks loose around here.  The monkeys, they do not adapt well to change.  So I miss Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but I shall have to suffer until Fall when the world realigns itself and we can once again watch Disney Junior until naptime.

Oh and I almost forgot the most important update of all!  I did another book review for BlogHer.  This time it was a Sarah Dessen book, called “Whatever Happened to Goodbye”.  I’d heard a lot about her books so I was excited to give it a go.  And I probably would have read through it faster if not for the distraction that the Hunger Games books provided.  But I did read it and it was GOOD.  So seriously.  Go check out my review.  Do it now!

ETA: It occurs to me that I’ve used this title for a blog post before.  But I’m just going to leave it because I’m so out of creativity at the moment.  Deal with the sameness!

Catching up

I can’t believe how quickly this month is passing.  Normally, I’m excited for Christmas to come and anxious for November to be over so we can get to the “good stuff”.  But this year, I wouldn’t mind a few extra days, just to catch up!  There never seems to be quite enough time to finish everything that I would like to get done.

And yes, the blog does suffer.  Perhaps it’s good that I didn’t do NaBloPoMo this year!

But I do have some things to bring to your attention.  First off, I have a couple of new reviews up over on my review blogI took part in a blog tour (yes, really!) for a wonderful, festive and romantic novel, “Lakeshore Christmas” by Susan Wiggs.  I suggest all book and Christmas fans go read the review and then go buy the book because I had such a good time reading that one.  You know it had to be good if I’ve actually READ a book these days!

I also have reviewed, yet again, the custom holiday cards over at Minted.com.  I was lucky enough to get to review them last year and to get to do it again this year?  Just awesome.  Rest assured, Minted will be the first place I look should I need custom cards in the future.  And their holiday card designs this year?  Awesome.  Definitely go check it out.

I know you hear about my knitting all the time and how busy it keeps me (REALLY REALLY BUSY).  Do you want to keep up with how it’s going on Facebook?  I have a page for that!  Become a fan and make my day.  Please?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my knitting.  I swear, I’m such a slavedriver!

Thursday Bitchslap

Why is it that when you’ve sucked it up, vowed to make the best of things and just want to go with the flow, does life then throw yet MORE curveballs at you just to see if you’re REALLY up to the challenge (hint: I’m not)?  Are the fates truly that cruel?  (Answer: YES.)  Of course, any complaint I have here is painfully minor and I am well, well aware of that.  But they are complaints.  And if a blog isn’t for complaining once (or twice) (or more) in a while, then I don’t know what it’s for.

Item #1: Remember that whole thing where the tan van has been parked for the month because it’s not registered and Kile’s white van that, while older and rattles as you drive around in it, is legal so it has been our vehicle?  Yeah.  Well, yesterday the tread split from the tire (the tire that was causing the rattling and that we were HOPING and PRAYING would just last through the month and we would replace it next month) and now it is UNDRIVEABLE.  Oh ho ho… I couldn’t make this stuff up.  And of COURSE Kile doesn’t have a spare to put on because it too is busted or somesuch nonsense and I’m not entirely sure WHY or WHAT.  But long story short: Kile had to take the tan van today.  We are hoping that he doesn’t get pulled over for driving with expired tags but that would be just like The Fates to arrange that so I’m not holding my breath.

I think the long term plan here is for Kile to see if the spare from the tan van will fit the white van or some such.  I’m not entirely sure and I don’t know if I really want to know anyhow (ignorance can be bliss).  But, OMG, doesn’t it just FIGURE?

Item #2: Liam’s high chair, apparently, has been RECALLED.  What makes me laugh is that the very reason it is being recalled is something that has happened to us (in fact, it happened several months ago) but because we are lame, negligent cheapskates, we have continued to use the chair anyhow.  According to the site, we shouldn’t be doing that.  OOPS.  But I’d like to know how else we are supposed to feed the Tiny Wonder since we have no booster or anything else and this child needs to be RESTRAINED in order to eat.  The more straps, the better.  If he can’t escape, he has no choice but to eat.  (It’s called the Imprisonment Method, look it up.)  So we gotta contact Evenflo and get a repair kit or somesuch goofiness.  Blah blah blah.

In the meantime, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Kile told me about this this morning.  Of COURSE our highchair is being recalled.  What the heck took them so long??  And also: JUST OUR LUCK.  (Hint to big PR companies: Now would be a great time to send me a high chair to test out for review purposes.  Just sayin’.)

Do I need more items than that?  I really don’t think I do, but I know if I thought about it hard enough, I think I could.  Or, you know, I could just wait ten minutes for the roof to cave in, the power to go out, the DSL to give up or something.  And again?  WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED.

It’s in the bag

Warning!  If you are a brother or sister to me (via blood or marriage), I advise you to skip this post.  Unless you really want to have your Christmas gift spoiled.  Turn away now and save the surprise for Christmas morning!

There.  Now that that’s out of the bag, I wanted to share with you the contents of the gift bags we put together for our siblings and their families this holiday season.  Partially so I have a record of the awesomeness we put together this year (direct quote from Harry: “We’ve worked harder on Christmas this year than we ever have before!”), and partially so that if there are any of you who are looking for ideas for homemade, handmade and inexpensive gifts, then maybe this would be an interested read for you.  Anyhow, sorry for the lack of pictures but I was uber-lame and didn’t take pictures of anything before we got it all bagged and boxed up.  Whoops. I’ll try to find links where I can though to make up for it, deal?

  • The first thing is the picture of the three kids in wallet size.  We then matted that on some fancy red and white paper and then put it in a wooden frame that we painted white and decorated with little Christmas baubles.  I also painted wooden “phrases” (such as Believe, Hope, Joy, Noel…etc) and those were glued to the top of the frame.
  • Chocolate molded Christmas tree pretzel rods and chocolate molded Santa Claus’ on a candy cane.  Wrapped up in little candy bags and tied with a bow.
  • Plastic bin filled with homemade peanut brittle
  • Plastic bin filled with homemade fudge
  • Various and sundry handmade ornaments, mostly made by Harry.
  • A Christmas Mix CD compiled by yours truly.  It features some seriously awesome Christmas songs.
  • In the bags that are going to houses where there are little kids, we’ve included the appropriate number of craft kits.  One bag includes a ‘Snowman Making Kit‘ and another includes a couple of flower fairies that I made at a craft day event.
  • Most of the bags include a book or two.  I got a lot of free books this year, some I barely cracked the spine on.  I sent these on to homes I felt were appropriate for them.
  • A fancy-schmancy Christmas card, including our fabulous holiday letter.
  • Each of these items were packed into a new reuseable shopping bag from our local Whole Foods store.  As a bonus, Whole Foods had a special holiday edition of their shopping bag so we got those.

The whole thing was then wrapped up in cellophane and tied closed with a golden ribbon.  Voila!  So what do you think?  Will these make nice presents?  Will the recipients appreciate the effort?  A lot of work though it was, it was kind of fun putting these together.  Maybe we’ll do it again next year.  Maybe we won’t.  We’ll see how these go over first!

Days of Grace – Day 8

I seem to have established a routine of doing these at night.  I’ve been finding it’s a nice way to wind down after a long day.

  1. Rockstar Energy Drink.  I would stock a whole second refrigerator with this stuff if I could.
  2. My new knitting project (a baby hat).  I’m impressing myself with all my straight stitches and minimal slipups (BTW, my Ravelry invite came through so look me up if you belong!  marilynsp!)
  3. Watching my oldest play Wii and have such a good time with it.  Makes the darned thing so worth it. (Also BTW, check out my review of Harry’s latest favorite game.  It is WAY fun.)
  4. That it is December.  I love this month (usually) (mostly).  Now, if only it would SNOW.
  5. Having our outdoor Christmas lights on and working again (not that they were ever taken down from last year!).  Makes me feel so much more festive!

My Twilight Review

I got to see “Twilight” last night!  No thanks to my loving husband.  My dear mother in law offered to go see it with me.  And it was so exciting to get to go see it on the opening day.  I didn’t even know what to expect, actually.  I was almost afraid to get my hopes up too much.  I know how hard it is to fullfill fan expectations in book-to-movie situations such as this.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much.  But I also didn’t want to be stubborn and dampen any thrill of actually seeing the movie either.  So I felt oddly keyed up, sitting in the theater, waiting for the movie to begin. 

There was a good crowd there, a lot of pre-teen girls, quite a few 30-something women.  But there were men too.  Most likely dragged by their significant others.  But they didn’t have a long-suffering look to them, so one can only figure that they weren’t entirely opposed to seeing it (unlike some people I know).  everyone was feeling rather festive.  There were a lot of smiles.  The line waiting to go into the theater was long, but orderly and the crowd wasn’t actually that obnoxious.  I was pretty pleased.  

The Harry Potter trailer?  Awesome.  Of course.  I’m still annoyed that it’s been moved to July, but it looks as though it will be worth the wait.  And hey, at least now we can go see it in the drive-in.  Bonus!

Okay, so here’s what I thought of the movie.  I’m going to put it behind a “more” tag, so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know, don’t click through.  Mmkay?  

Continue reading

Temperatures

I was reading a post over at Lost a Sock yesterday where she talked about how warm she liked to keep their house.  And, I swear to you, my jaw about hit the floor.   There are actually lots of people, apparently, who keep their thermostats at 74 degrees.  Or higher!  I think I would probably burst into spontaneous flame if we had our thermostat set at that for more than about, oh, 30 minutes.  

And I realized that there are people who are just plain intolerant to cold.  Much like I am intolerant to heat.  I hate hate hate being hot.  HATE IT.  I have an actual adverse physical reaction to being too warm.  Seriously!  The worst is getting into a car on a sunny but slightly cool day and it’s already warm in the car from the sun coming through the windows but then they turn the heater on?  ZOMG.  My skin crawls and I feel an overwhelming urge to PANT, I kid you not.  I cannot stand being warm.  Why I don’t just migrate to the Arctic Circle, I have no idea.  

We are misers around these parts and have been long before the current financial crisis ever hit.  I guess it’s just lucky that I like to be on the cool side anyhow.  During the winter, we have our thermostat set to 62 or so during the day.  I bump it up if I need to, like when we get a storm and it’s cooler outside than usual.  Generally, the house keeps it’s heat pretty well since the majority of the windows face the south side of the house and if the sun is shining, that goes a long way to keeping the place warm.  The thermostat goes up to 68 for a couple hours first thing in the morning to warm up the house and then again in the evening.  At night, we set it back to 58.  Because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s when the heater runs while I’m sleeping.  Even unconsciously, while I’m sleeping, I will toss and turn and wake up and sweat.  It’s awful. 

I generally wear my fleecy pajamas, slippers and a cozy robe during the day.  Sometimes I put a blanket on my lap when I’m watching TV.  The little kids too wear fleecy, cozy jammies during the winter months and when we dress for the cold, well, it works in the house too.  We’re not the sorts to wear shorts and t-shirts during the winter months.  If it’s 30 degrees outside, I figure I should be wearing a sweater.  It’s not worth the heating bill just to be able to wear a t-shirt when at home.  

I like it cold when I sleep so I can wear cozy pajamas and snuggle under a down comforter and flannel sheets.  The boys both wear cozy pajamas and snuggle under a pile of covers.  They haven’t complained about it and both have their favorite blankets.  I always make sure Evie is wearing warm pajamas and even then she gets tucked under a double-width fleece blanket.  Her room, like ours, faces the north side of the house so it’s cooler than the rest of the house.  As such, we’ve put a space heater in her room and we ran it last night to great success.  She stayed warm and cozy all night long.  I’ve already mentioned that I like it cool when I sleep and we even have the ceiling fan running on low in our room at night so that things don’t get too stagnant.  

So tell me this: Are we crazy?  I promise, if you ever came to visit we would bump up the heat for you.  But in the meantime, we sure do enjoy the comparatively small heating bills!  What do you keep your thermostat at?  And aren’t electronic thermostats just THE BOMB?  Makes life SO much simpler. 

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In other, completely unrelated news, I have a new review up over on ye olde review blogge.  PBN saw fit enough to send my nine year old a Wii game to review and I think it’s safe to say that he thought it was the coolest thing to ever come in our mail EVER.  What can I say?  The boy likes video games.  So yeah.  Go check it out.

This one is for Cagey

So in the comments on yesterday’s uber-whiner post, Cagey said she hated posts like that (and so did Michelle, for the record), where I beat myself up (but I’m such an easy target!).  So in an effort to balance everything out nicely, I thought I’d do a post wherein I detail everything that is Totally Awesome about yours truly.   Because while I still believe that in some, way, shape or form that I am a la-hoo-ser, I do recognize that I have some good traits.  Somewhere.  Maybe there in the corner under that layer.  Ahem.  Here goes!

  • I have some really cute kids.  As evidenced by the MONDO picture we picked up yesterday from Sears.  Seriously, ya’ll, it’s adorable.  And you should check out my full review of Sears Portrait Studio while you’re at it. Our Beautiful Kids 
  • I have a fondness for writing that makes up for it’s lack of talent with an excess of enthusiasm.  I may never be a literary genius, but maybe someday I’ll get published.  That’d be awesome. 
  • I love animals.  I always have.  When I was little, before the days of Animal Planet, I used to love to watch those wild animal safari type shows on PBS.  I’ve always loved having pets too.  For a long time, I was a big cat person, but thanks to Tiger, we’re taking a bit of a cat-break right now.  We have our hands full with the dogs now anyhow. 
  • I like to think that I have a decent sense of humor.  This might not be the funniest blog out there and I’m in no way implying that it is.  But I do know funny when I hear (or see) it.  My dad used to always say I had such a great sense of humor.  I love to laugh.  I love to surround myself with funny people. 
  • I love Christmas.  There, I said it.  I know it’s sorta fashionalble anymore to be something of a Scrooge, but I can’t help it.  Tis the Season to be Jolly.  I don’t love the stress associated with the holidays but I absolutely ADORE the wonder.  And I love sharing that wonder with my kids. 
  • In a related vein, I love cold weather.  I love snow and rain and clouds.  I don’t love wind (but then, after living in Nevada you realize it doesn’t need to be cold to be windy).  I can’t wait until this mild weather is gone and we get some real good snow storms.  
  • I’m loyal.  I’m not the sort to ditch out on someone when a “better offer” comes along.  Once I’m a friend with someone, it takes quiet a bit to shake that.  I give my friends the benefit of the doubt in iffy situations.  This has, in the recent past, led to me getting walked over, but I think it’s an important trait to have.  Because if you can’t count on your friends to back you up in times of need, then who can you count on? 
  • I have awesome taste in music and movies.  If I do say so myself.  And I do.  Cuz this is my blog.  And I’m not talking about artsy-fartsy, alternative taste.  Yes, there are some awesome indy movies out there and some fabulous unknown musicians out there.  But I tend towards the mainstream and I love popular movies and music.  It’s the great equalizer.  And look at it this way, I’ll never make you feel bad for loving “Armageddon” (cuz I do too) (but I will hold “The Fast and the Furious” against you because that movie and all it’s spawn are CRAP).  

There you go.  Some of the things that make me awesome.  Don’t you want to be my friend now?

Christmas is Nigh

Try as I might to deny it, Christmas is upon us.  It’s knocking on the door and rattling the windows.  It’s calling my home phone every hour and leaving voicemails on my already-crowded-and-never-listened-to inbox.  We were out and about all day on Sunday and if there’s one thing I noticed it is this: Christmas is Here.  It don’t care that temperatures will be up near 70 degrees today (Seriously, WTF, Nevada??).  It doesn’t care that I haven’t even begun to think about decorating (at least our exterior is mostly done already, since we never took down last years decorations) (don’t you want to be our neighbor??).  It doesn’t even care that we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet.  The fact of the matter is that Christmas is rapidly approaching and if you aren’t shopping your guts out by now then you totally FAIL.  

So in the spirit of Yuletide and all that rot, I’m going to share with you my Holiday To-Do List.  Because don’t we all have one of these?  At the very least, this little exercise might help organize myself so that I can at least hope to get some of these things done.  

  • Compile and burn Christmas CDs for Holiday Gift Bag.  I THINK I know what songs I want to put on there.  But I should probably stop putting this off and just get it done.  This is an EASY task. 
  • Finish making the ornaments that Harry burned out on making after he made 1/2 of one.  SIGH.  
  • Paint and decorate the remaining picture frames (we have one done.  Sort of. 
  • Make holiday candy and treats for Gift Bags.  This could be dangerous for my waistline.  Especially the fudge part.  So I think I’ll make Kile do it.
  • Purchase Whole Foods reuseable grocery bags for the Gift Bag.  It’s sort of an important component, actually. *cough*
  • Dig Christmas tree out of the garage and assemble.  Then decorate it.  Then pray to Baby Jesus that Liam doesn’t entirely dismantle it.  
  • Do the Santa gift thing.  We (sorta) know what we’re going to get.  But we probably won’t be making any purchases until after Thanksgiving.
  • Find presents for Kile.  GULP.  Since I’m pretty much a hermit and never leave the house alone with the kids, this could be… interesting.  Hellooooo online shopping!!
  • Make more fudge.  For myself.  (Who am I kidding??)
  • Do the post office thing.  *shudder*  Hmm.  On second thought, delegate that task to Kile.  
  • Oh crap!  Christmas cards!  I almost forgot.  Yeah, since I actually have some to give out this year, I should probably do those too.  
And that’s it.  So far, at least.  I’m sure this list will expand and grow and change and shrink and then grow again before it’s all said and done.  Don’t mind me, I’ll be the one in the corner drinking hot cocoa laced with schnapps.