Book Review: First Comes Love

First Comes Love

I had high hopes for this book. I love Giffin‘s other books and really wanted to like First Comes Love. But…I really didn’t. It followed the accounts of 2 sisters who lost their brother at the beginning of the book. Fast forward 15 years and read how their lives have turned out. Honestly? Not great but it follows their relationship together, with their families, friends, and their own selves to try to turn around. I don’t want to give away spoilers so I’ll focus on the main characters: Meredith and Josie. Neither is all that likeable but if I had to pick, I’d pick Josie. Meredith is cold and skeptical while Josie has a job she excels out and loves that seems very mature yet she’s a mess outside of it. She doesn’t seem to see past herself…even when there’s something/someone staring her in the face to see past herself and her own desires. Meredith on the other hand is skeptical of everyone and plays martyr the whole time.

One could argue their both strong women knowing what they want and going after it but there are strong arguments for seeing them both as broken, selfish, and blame-placing. The book does turn around a little in the end for me but I still look back on it a few days after finishing it being disappointed that the characters were so unlikeable and selfish in the end.

If you like Giffin, I recommend reading it. I’m really hoping it’s set up itself up for a sequel so I can read it and hopefully see the story continue to try and redeem itself.

Book Review: A Spool of Blue Thread

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I just finished A Spool of Blue Thread last week.It was a slow one to read. The story was interesting but I never really felt like there was a true plot. It wasn’t until about halfway through I realized the plot was the lazy story-telling about the family it follows–The Whitshanks. I don’t mean lazy as in bad, I just mean lazy as a story you’d tell on someone’s front porch, which incidentally a front porch is key in the story. In fact, the house is key as much as the people are. The book follows The Whitshanks and how they became The Whitshanks. It’s an interesting story to see how a family becomes the family they are…all siblings and extended parts of them. You find out the personalities and relationships behind each person and how or why they interact the way they do. It’s relate-able in that everyone has a certain type of person in their family…you know, the know-it-all, the caretaker, the slacker, the hot-head.

While I liked the book, it’s not one I got really drawn into until the end and then I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more. While broken into parts, it still felt like the story was told backwards and primarily in flashbacks. But the ending was very abrupt. I wish I’d read it as part of a book club because there were discussion questions at the end that really made me want to have someone to talk to about it! So if you read it, let me know so we can talk about that ending.

Book Review: I Do It With the Lights On

I’ve been reading like crazy and felt the need to start up this blog again with book reviews of what I’m reading lately. I’ll just pick up with what I’ve just finished:

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I watch Thore’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life and while I find her a little high on drama,  unlike some reality shows, I don’t find her fake. Sure, with any reality show recording you can imagine some scenes are set up and situations are probably made more dramatic than they’d normally be but she seems real. So when she announced she had a book coming out, I put it on my “to-read” list. I just finished reading, “I Do It With the Lights On.”

I thought it was a good read. It was an easy read and it details her journey to becoming a fat person. She says she always struggled with her weight and talks about dealing with that in a society that is hard on fat people but especially fat women. She talks about growing up with parents who were incredibly loving and doting but fed her insecurity with her size. I’ve read some books with a similar message but what I liked about this book is she details her journey to really dealing with society and haters (and some lovers) of fat people. I know she still deals with people hating and saying she’s promoting obesity. I think she’s promoting loving herself, no matter what shape (physical, mental, emotional) it’s in. She seems to generally love a person no matter what they have going on with them. She’s a loud person who happens to be fat and unfortunately this brings her a lot of negative attention. I’m sure she (and this book) are not everyone’s cup of tea but I hope people at least look at her message “No Body Shame” and understand it’s important to respect people, whether you agree or like how they look. You never know what someone is dealing with and she points this out in her book. She made me even take a step back and look at how I view others and myself and realize I do a lot of things to appease society’s view of how I look.

Overall, do I say this should be next on your “to-read” list or stack of books? No, but I think it should be on your list somewhere along the line.

 

April Book Reviews

I was fortunate enough to devour two books in April (I’m hoping for that in May but we shall see).

First up was:

How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue

How to Eat a Cupcake

How to Eat a Cupcake

 

I was actually quite pleased with this book. It starts out as what I think will be two women reuniting a ruined friendship while they start a bakery together but it ends up in a mystery. It flipped back and forth between the mystery aspect and the friend aspect but not in a way that seemed distracting or disjointed. It was a great light read and if you’re a cupcake lover and/or baker like myself, you’ll enjoy reading about the different cupcake flavors that are mentioned. It’s a very illustrative book to read.

Next on the Kindle…

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

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How to Be a Woman

This was recommended to me by a friend. I went from laughing and agreement to anger and disagreement over and over with this book. I almost quit reading many times but I finished. I’m glad I did as it certainly made me think. I think her early years are more humorous as Moran documents her life but I think it shows how a woman can turn her life around and grow into a strong, independent thinking woman who can be funny in a “man’s way” but still be a woman. If that makes sense….

What did you read in April?

Whirlwind Life

Life has been a crazy, hectic, mess of wonderfulness lately. What’s been happening?

Last time I posted I was on the fence about starting Weight Watchers again. Well, I did. I lost 19.7 pounds in the first 3 weeks. Yeah…but while that’s awesome. I’m not getting too terribly excited because 1. it was much of what I’d gained back and 2. I know I can’t keep that amount of weight loss up for the long haul. So YAY for losing but keep the expectations lower on how much I’ll lose consistently. I’m also aware that it may fluctuate a lot over the next few weeks because I’m moving soon and it’s a little stressful.

I went on vacation with the fella and his family. We went to Orlando for 5 days and enjoyed pool time with sunshine and warm temps, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, a gangster inspired dinner theater, La Nouba (a Cirque Du Soleil show), laughter, and a lot of delicious vacation food. Fish and chips, amazing steak, fish. And….I was introduced to jaffa tarts.

From the Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot

From the Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously, these things are delicious. Orange flavored cake/cream covered in chocolate. I loved them so much that when I saw them on the menu at the Irish pub the next night, I had them again. Kinda ridiculous but I don’t care. They were amazing.

And now we’re back and in the thick of packing so we can move in 2 weeks. Well, less than 2 weeks. I’m slowly freaking out and then K is calming down the crazy until I freak out again. I have so much stuff. It’s major purge time. I’m getting rid of So. Much. Stuff. I’m definitely one of those people who gets anxious about moving/traveling and while I love it, I get really antsy and uncomfortable right before it happens and I just want it over. I don’t mind flying or the airport process per se, but the night before I fly, I’m just thinking, “Ok, I’d like to be on the other side of this now and skip the flying.” I’m not afraid of it, I just get anxious about the process I guess. I’m the same way with moving. But because moving is much larger than flying across country, I’m at the stage 2 weeks prior of just wanting to be moved in and beginning to unpack.

On top of all of these “big” events there’s a lot on the social calendar. K had a birthday this month, a close friend of our’s had a birthday this month that we’re eager to celebrate, we’ve had family events, and we’re expecting my family to come visit shortly after we move. Like I said, it’s been a crazy, hectic, mess of wonderfulness lately.

To Count or Not to Count

So…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last month as I’ve been out of commission on working out with much cardio (and I’ll be honest, I’m not doing strength either). I’ve been wondering if perhaps it’s time I go back to Weight Watchers. I tried it for a while and it worked but I had issues with the fact that I felt like once I stopped using it, I’d gain the weight back. To me, counting points or calories only works while you’re counting. So when I stop…it doesn’t work. But here’s the thing: I can’t stop for a while. I mean like a long while. I have a significant amount of weight I want need to lose. I don’t like the idea of dieting. I don’t like the idea of counting anything. But I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with my personal trainer right before I had to stop going to her. She was telling me how she keeps track of what she eats and she counts most days but not all. But she’s earned that right to slip off for a bit. She talked about how when she first started losing weight she had to be strict. She talked about how now she can loosen up but she also knows that this kind of “dieting” by counting calories is kinda forever if you want to keep yourself in check. So counting calories and using MyFitnessPal are kinda gonna be it if I want to lose and then maintain. But I think for me, I need to get back to basics a little and learn to get myself back under control with eating and maybe Weight Watchers is the way to go. It lets me have my convenience. It takes the guess work out for me. Maybe I only do it for a while and then switch back to MyFitnessPal once I feel more in control. But do I? Is that what will work? Or do I need to try harder with MyFitnessPal? Or maybe there’s some other “thing” I should try. What do you think? What has worked for you if you’ve ever felt out of control and in need of structure again?

Monday’s Here Again

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Seriously, Monday…get a life. I don’t know about you but as the days stay lighter longer and it warms up (I’ve heard it will one day anyway), the weekends get shorter. I’ve always enjoyed my weekends but since the fella and I started dating over a year ago, I live for my weekends, particularly my Saturdays. He works on Sundays so Saturday is the one day we can have together all day. This past Saturday we definitely had one to remember! K’s birthday is right around the corner and as my gift I bought Capitals hockey tickets for Saturday’s game. I also promised a dinner out at Paladar. So Saturday morning we woke up and had a little lazy time breakfast before heading downtown (in the drizzly rain) to the Caps game. We had a great time, even though they lost. The seats were great and you make your own fun when your team is losing, right? And at least it wasn’t a shutout. Back home to relax for a bit before dressing up and heading out to dinner.

Well, little did K know but I invited about 12 others to join us for dinner. Not only did we surprise him with a large birthday dinner but I managed to get some friends come out who he hadn’t seen in quite some time and I’d never actually met (partial thank you to Facebook). It’s not easy for me to surprise K. He gets a little suspicious but mainly because I’m HORRIBLE at keeping secrets from him. I get excited and I want to share everything with him. But we managed to completely surprise him and had one of the best evenings we’ve had in a while. It was full of friends, family, good food and drinks, and lots and lots of laughter.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my fella smile and my heart just felt full watching him interact with his closest friends. I loved seeing our different walks of life friends interact and get along really well. (But I won’t lie…I’m glad it’s over because I was about to burst with that secret!)

Today the sun is shining after 3 days of rain here in Maryland and a weird freak snow “storm” yesterday afternoon. Honestly, y’all, while nothing stuck, the Facebook posts were hilarious yesterday once everyone started seeing the white stuff fall out of the sky. March has been awful around these parts and I think even the snow lovers are just over it. So the sun is shining and there is promise of temps in the 60s this week. I’m not believing it sticks until I see it.

Happy week ahead!

Book Review: Divergent Triology

If you read (and liked) the Hunger Games triology, you should go get the Divergent triology asap. The movie based on the first book, Divergent, comes out in theaters today and I cannot wait to go see it soon.

Book 1: Divergent

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I started reading this based on a recommendation. I kept saying, “yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it.” When I sprained my ankle and was reading like a fiend, I thought, “Why not now?” I finished it in 2 days. No joke. It’s very similar to the Hunger Games but it’s not quite as dark. However, in Book 1, I could tell it was leading toward something darker. Basically, the world takes place in a destroyed Chicago and society is divided into 5 factions. Each faction has a particular virtue: honesty, selflessness, brave, peaceful, and intelligent. At age 16, one chooses if they would like to stay within the faction that they were raised in or go into another faction. The main character, Tris, chooses her destiny…sort of. It’s a very thought provoking book to think about society split out like it is. It demonstrates that even if we’re in some forced group, we still depend on others to help us survive. It’s also fun to think about what landmarks in Chicago they’re describing if they’re not specifically named and to think about how strange some of our large cities would look if they were destroyed. After reading this book I though I might put off Book 2 but I picked it up because it was quickly loaned to me.

Book 2, Insurgent

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So, I read this book in 3 days. Clearly, it’s terrible. Ha. This book gets more into the the fall out of what happens in Book 1. I think it focuses on what people think about when figuring out where they fit in society and what they think of society as they know it. It really is a coming of age book for Tris, even more so than Book 1. There’s a love story, there’s overcoming grief, learning how to forgive, learning one’s identity, and discovering the world is run by politics and power. After I finished this book I immediately wanted Book 3. While I almost downloaded it on my Kindle, I knew if I simply waited 24 hours I could borrow Book 3. But I kid you not that once I got my hands on Book 3 I was reading it within 10 minutes and didn’t put it down for the first few short chapters.

Book 3, Allegiant

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On to Book 3. I have to say, this book was easier to put down. Quickly into the book it gets to the “point” of the world you’ve been in for the previous 2 books. It was an interesting concept but not one I really could get behind. However, if I allow myself to indulge in sci-fi, I could maybe see it happening in the world but not quite what I expected. But with that said, I still read this book in about a week and I enjoyed it for what it was.

So again I say, if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, read this series. Let me know what you think!

Drunk Honeyed Pecans

The other day I had a hankering for some sort of different snack and I happened to have a huge bag of pecans from my mom’s yard in south GA. So I started thinking I could do a sweet candied pecan but I didn’t want the typical sugar coated. So after some research online I modified a recipe to make this!

Drunk Honeyed Pecans

  • 1/2 c bourbon honey
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c whiskey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, stir together honey, granulated sugar, whiskey, and salt. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a slow boil. Add pecan halves. Stir to coat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring, until syrup begins to bubble up and turn a light brown in color. Remove from heat and drain liquid through a strainer.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place coated pecans onto parchment paper in a single layer, separating as much as possible. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes (watch closely so they don’t burn). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, separate pecans from each other and use to top salad or as a tasty snack.

Book Review: February Reads

I read a lot in February. I’m going to show 3 books here but I actually read 4. My plan for the 4th book is to review an entire triology at once.

So let’s start with Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman.

orange

I simply liked this book mainly because it was something different and I felt like it told a really true story and didn’t come across as a story written by a ghostwriter. While the topic is serious, it’s a light read. It also, if accurate, shows how women can embrace each other even if they’ve done something to land themselves in federal prison. It shows the true heartache of a woman separated from her family and one who truly regrets what she did to get into prison. It shows how one can befriend others but keep a low profile and just “do the time.” It also shows how while in some instances we think inmates are catered to, it’s a really inconsistent system in terms of how one is treated across facilities and even within. However, with all of this said…I’m not sure I really want to watch the series. People I know have raved about it but I kind of feel like now that I’ve read it, I think the series will ruin it for me. You know?

Next up is The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot.

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I adore this series by Cabot. I read them all so quickly so I was very excited to see the latest in the Heather Wells series was out. While I really liked it, I didn’t love it as I did some of the others. This plot seemed a little more crazy than some of the others. It seemed like it was stretching a bit more, however, it seems somewhat possible if you think about pressures students are under…I suppose. There was also just a LOT going on in this book in terms of side plots. But I love love love the romance between Heather and her hunky PI, Cooper. I may have teared up a little at the end. And by may, I mean I did. I think this may the last book in the series and while I’m sad to see it go, I think it’s time. But it did seem like Cabot could take one side plot and spin it into another series featuring Heather, which would thrill me to no end because I love her character and little band of friends and family.

Finally, Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster.

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I mentioned this book a few weeks ago. I liked it more once I finished it. But I still just gave it 2 out of 5 stars. It seemed like it was way too similar to Here I Go Again. The main character basically worked for Oprah. No, it wasn’t referenced but it might as well have been. This book seemed like it had some holes in the story and it pulled entirely too much from her other books for my taste. If more of her fiction works are like this, I’m going to be screaming for her to go back to more of her own life story telling because that’s essentially what her fiction works are. I know they say, “Write what you know” but this book took it to an extreme and it wasn’t extremely good.