Weekly Wrap-up! May 22nd to May 28th

Personal life:

First, I have dropped 22 pounds since beginning my healthy living kick.  (I still refuse to call it a diet or I will feel like I am missing out- I don’t get it either, that’s just the way I am).  After getting in the required gym visits to qualify for the discount next month I decided to start doing other things- walking the mall or at Wildcat Glades where there are nature trails.  I have also bought hand grippers and stretch bands to help me do things at home.  I think walking the Glades has become my favorite exercise of the moment.  I like listening to the birds.

Bookish life:

I finished Still Here, 16th Seduction, Keep Calm and Carry a Banana, and several X-Men comics.  I am now on the second Trials of Apollo: Dark Prophecy.

So, that’s me for this week.  What’s new with you?

Amber

 

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One Lovely Blogger Award!

one lovely blog award

 Hey guys!  I was nominated for the One Lovely Blogger Award by James J Cudney IV @ this-is-my-truth-now.  We found one another a few months back and I have really been enjoying his book reviews.  I am pretty excited to be doing this, because I honestly don’t know what to tell people a lot of the time.  I would like to be more open on this blog and let you know me.  So let’s start:

Rules:

  • Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in their post.
  • They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image.
  • Must add 7 facts about themselves.
  • Nominate 15 people to do the award!

Seven facts about me:

  1. I cry a lot.  It’s sad actually.  I will cry over books and movies- I am not ashamed of this.  I am ashamed, though, that I cry when I am deeply frustrated.  This serves to piss me off and I cry harder.  I have worked on this weird quirk for the last twenty years and it has gotten better…. but it still happens.
  2. I always wanted a cat, but my father is allergic.  When Warren and I started our life together he bought me Sassy Britches from For The Love Of Animals as an engagement present (I had never wanted a “nice” ring as my body tends to eat up metal and I work in an area where it could get banged up).  Her previous owners had declawed her completely and left her outside when they moved.  Bea from the organization found her during a thunder storm.  Needless to say, Sassy still hates the sound of storms.  She is what I like to call my comfort kitty.  When I am crying she cuddles me and tries to make me feel better, and she will hang with me when I am sick.  She has a lot of attitude, though, and constantly makes me laugh.  She taught my husband to play hide-and-seek for treats.
  3. I love food.  For most of my life it was my comfort.  Not terribly, but if I was sad I had no problem going to the mall and getting a giant bowl of pho or a slice of cake from Walmart and just eating it.  This is a problem and probably why I was 236 pounds when I started my healthy living plan.  I now try to use myfitnesspal to help me figure out portion control and monitor my exercise which was nonexistent before.  For the most part I have been able to incorporate most of my favorite foods- or healthier versions of them- into my life.  The most embarrassing has been French fries- I love fast food but if I want fries I have to ask for them unsalted.  I feel guilty making extra work, but I really miss my fries.  I haven’t been able to incorporate pho yet, my sodium levels just won’t allow it unless that’s all I eat a day.  In two months I am now down 22 pounds.
  4. I ask dogs if I can pet them.  I mean… I ask the owner first, but even if they say yes the dog may not be feeling me.  I always offer them my hand to smell and ask them specifically.  It might be weird, but it feels like the right thing to do.
  5. I was a huge fan of The Voice years ago.  I still love a lot of the singers I heard there, like Nakia, Sawyer Fredericks and Christina Grimmie.  I used to have a second cat for a while, Jack, and he would come running when he heard the theme song.  We would watch the show together.  Jack also loved cooking shows- sometimes we would look at each other.  You could just tell I was thinking “I could do that” and he was thinking “why aren’t I eating that?”.  Ever since he passed of old age it’s been hard to sit down and watch the shows.  Is that weird?
  6. I collect old Disney movies when they come out on Blu-ray.  I loved the animation and the stories.  I had to search everywhere for Oliver and Company, but it was worth it!
  7. I have never liked Star Wars.  I just cannot get into it, which is weird because one of my best friends is nuts for it.  I love Kris and support him in all things geeky, but I don’t care for the movies myself.  That said it is a lot of fun to watch the fans have a good time.

So that’s me!  I want to nominate:

  1. Books and Co.
  2. Panic at the book store
  3. Real Tasty Pages
  4. By Hook or by Book
  5. Beth from Hello Beautiful Blog
  6. Read in a Flash
  7. Eden from Thrice Read
  8. Novel Gossip

…. and everyone else!

Amber

Keep Curious and Carry A Banana, H. A. Rey

keep curiousspolier alertTitle: Keep Curious and Carry A Banana: Words of Wisdom from the World of Curious George

Author: H. A. Rey

Pages: 80

Genre: children’s, humor

Is this book part of a series?  No.

Published: April 5th, 2016.

Curious George has been beloved by children for seventy five years.  Who hasn’t loved the cheeky little monkey?  Here we have inspirational sayings set to original art from the Curious George books.

I first found this over at Target on a shelf for Graduates, and I fell in love.  It is beautiful, funny, and really charming.  I loved the pictures, and the sayings were things that were good for one starting out to hear…. but also for those of us that have been plugging along through adulthood for a while, as we may have forgotten.  It has a nice, sturdy cover, which is appreciated.  The art is beautiful and colorful, and the book as a whole leaves one feeling refreshed after leafing through it.  Five stars!  Five Stars

My only complaint is with how my copy got to me.  Instead of buying one of Target’s pristine books, I ordered from Amazon.  I had never had any issues before so long as I didn’t buy from a seller but directly from Amazon.  Unfortunately, they went cheap.  Cardboard was wrapped around my book and glued shut.  By the time I got it my hard cover had several indents and there was a large dirty smudge across the right corner of the book.  If this book had been a gift, I would not have been able to give it to them that way.  Next time, I may just pick the book up at the store.

Here are some of my favorite pages from the book:

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

 

 

 

16th Seduction, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

16th seductionspolier alertTitle: 16th Seduction

Authors: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Pages: 400

Genre: thriller, mystery, action.

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book 16 of the Women’s Murder Club.

Published:  March 9th, 2017

Summary:

Lindsay and Joe are having dinner on the pier, and she is seriously considering reconciliation.  Can they have a relationship together now?  Still, there’s good wine, great food, and…. a huge explosion across the way.  When they run over to assess the damage, Lindsay notices one man acting strangely.  Connor Grant isn’t running away.  In fact, he seems happy.  When she goes to talk to him, Grant takes credit for the bomb and Lindsay has him taken into custody.  Meanwhile, Joe goes into the museum to see if he can help anyone.  A second explosion hits, and he is badly wounded.

The next morning, Grant is in interrogation denying ever having admitted to anything.  As the case goes to trial, he decides to defend himself and Lindsay finds that it is her- her word, and her integrity- that is on trial.  In order to protect her job and put Grant away Lindsay must get all her friends together and they have to figure out the mystery of what really happened and who Grant really is before it’s too late.

My thoughts:

For me, this was a very fast paced but emotionally taxing book.  Over the years I have come to love these characters, and the pain Lindsay is in- both on a job level and in her romantic life- hurts.  These are amazing, multifaceted characters that you cannot help but root for; and each one has their own issue in this book as well as trying to help Lindsay through hers.

Grant is an interesting villain.  Smart, savvy chameleon that he is, it was interesting to see what he would come up with.  The premise was intriguing and the story line had a nice, fast flow.  It tied in well with 15th Affair, James Patterson, but seemed to ignore the bookshot in between these two.  I have to admit, I was a bit put off by that.  I had been waiting to see how they would address the added content in the paper copy of The Trial, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.

That said, I still loved the book and thought it was a great addition to the series.  Five stars!  Five Stars

On the adult content scale, there was violence, language and some sexual content.  I give it a five.  Parental Guidance

The book is out!  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

Still Here, Lara Vapnyar

still herespolier alertTitle: Still Here

Author: Lara Vapnyar

Pages: 308

Genre: contemporary fiction.

Is this part of a series? No.
Published: May 2nd 2017

Summary:

                 Four friends met in Russia before embarking on their grand adventure- immigration.  Vica and Sergey, so very much in love, had great ideas of how their lives would be.  Putting medical school aside for the moment, Vica supported Sergey through business school only to watch her genius husband shuffle from one job to another- losing one job after another.  This was not their dream!  Now they have a young son and Vica has a job that she can’t love.  Sergey?  Sergey has ideas- a dream, an app, to bring a voice to the dead using their old social media presence.  Vica just wants him to succeed in something- she wants to be able to afford things for Eric, to watch her husband succeed… the life she dreamed of.

Vadik was a friend of theirs in Russia- Vica’s ex infact.  When he immigrated for work, they were all together along with their friend (and Sergey’s ex) Regina who married an American business man, Bob.  This book ties the lives together, showing how one’s perception of events often colors how you see others as well.  Their past, present, successes and insecurities come into display as they each struggle to find their way in the land they had all dreamt of landing in.

My thoughts:

                It’s easy to get caught up in this story- in the lives of these four very different people that are tied by their past.  As I read there would be little clues to each character- fleshing them out, making them more unique and multifaceted.  Sergey, always having been told he was a genius, comes to America to find that he can’t figure out how to fit in and succeed in this very different world of business.  The brilliant mind is seen as unmotivated, lacking in skills, goals, control… just lacking.  He sees condemnation everywhere, especially in Vica.   Vica, on the other hand, hates who she becomes because of her dissatisfaction with their lot.  She hates that she shows Sergey the worst parts of her- that husband and wife are so close that it can’t be hidden.  Regina, once a renowned translator like her deceased mother, hasn’t been able to pick up a book since coming to America.  She is lost and lonely, with only these three and Bob.  She doesn’t want “hobbies” she wants something meaningful but nothing seems to fit.  Often she finds herself unmotivated, unlovable.  When it comes time to revisit Russia, she must come to terms with who she and her mother really were, and what she really wants.  Vadik is the programming nomad, trying on different hobbies, attitudes, women and apartments as the mood strikes; never really satisfied.  On his first day in America, he feels like he met his ideal- and lost her the next morning.  Reading through each characters thoughts, fears, triumphs and failures gives you a sense of knowing.  I have known these four forever.  I feel them, deep in my heart.  Each character is an unholy mess in and of themselves, but has so much beauty too.  The fact that they are flawed, and so very human, allows for you to fall deep into the story line.

I liked how they used the character’s online presence, and their feelings for Virtual Grave to help shed light on each one.  Regina was the watcher, empathizer, by stander.  Vadik had an app for every mood- several online dating profiles where he tried to fit into the desires of the women that he felt he deserved.  An app to help him with his hobby of “molecular cooking” a twitter handle where he could quote great writers and be profound, but also make fun of the world.  Vica, only sharing the most happy and beautiful moments in life- here, at least, is the life she thought she would have.  Sergey, would find interesting articles and discussing them, posting links on his Facebook page.  He found himself constantly waiting for inspiration.  There are so many little gems in here, turn of phrases that I adored or that allowed for deeper understanding of each character.  The end seemed a bit rushed and open ended to me, but I think that was purposeful.  Each character has a new adventure.  Honestly, there was very little I didn’t love about this book.  For me, this was a five star book.Five Stars  I received my copy of Still Here from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

On the adult content scale, this is obviously geared toward a mature audience with language and sexual content.  I give it a seven. mature audience.

To illustrate how very highly I recommend this book, I present to you my copy:

20170526_185451

Each tag is a turn of phrase I loved, a part that made me feel, or a another aspect of a beloved character.

The book is out, what are you waiting for?

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

Detective Cross, James Patterson

detective crossspolier alertTitle: Detective Cross

Author: James Patterson

Pages: 144

Genre: mystery, thriller, novella

Is this part of a series?  Yes, in the Cross books this is number 24.5

Published:  June 6th, 2017

Suspended from the force, Alex has reopened his psychology practice and is trying to help a young vet named Kate.  At the same time his wife, Bree, is getting phone calls from someone that wants to “wake everybody up”-with bombs.  The people are scared, the city seems mad.  Can they find the culprit before it’s too late?

For me, this was a fantastic bookshot and a good addition to the Cross series.  I enjoyed the fact that we got to see more of Bree, and  I really liked the new characters.  What really drew me forward was the fact that I got to know the culprit as well, and to like them.  Patterson has a way of making good, interesting bad guys.  I loved the story line, and the flow of the book.  It’s also nice being able to see Nana Mama and Ali.  As a long time reader of this series these characters are very special to me.  One thing I did not like, though, was that it seemed to come up right after the last installment, but there was no talk of Sampson whatsoever.  I had been waiting for news, as one does with a beloved character.  Still, it was a fast and intensely interesting read.  I give it five stars.  Five Stars

As far as the adult content goes, there is some language and a lot of violence.  Neither are too very graphic though.  I give it a four.  Parental Guidance

The book is out now!  Go get it!

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

 

Weekly Wrap-up! May 15th-21st

Personal life

I gotta tell you, this healthy living stuff is for the birds.  I have been having real success with the combination of modern medicine, a kitchen scale, an app and a messenger support group (I am not even kidding there).  So far I am a month and a half in and I love most of it.  I have lost 20 pounds on the Phentermine combined with light workout and food changes.  Your health class in school does not prepare you, though, for the idea of good and bad fats.  Then there’s portion control!  If my husband and I go out there’s my sodium for the day!  Even if I am trying to be good!  Lastly, if I have to crawl to the gym at 3:30 in the morning I should look like a swimsuit model- just saying!

It isn’t all bad though.  I am proud of my weight loss even if I can’t physically see any changes.  My energy levels are still fairly low, which stinks because that was the main reason I wanted the pill.  I can get through everything, though, and am not as tired so there’s a plus.  The Myfitness pal has been a tremendous help with counting calories and nutrients and my buds have been super supportive.  I can touch my toes!!!!! Plus, under the plan my fitness pal has me on, I firmly believe I could do this for the rest of my life without my pill.  That’s what I want!  I won’t loose as fast, but I will be able to do it all on my own.  I do worry about cravings (I will still cut a bitch for a French fry), but I think I can handle it.

Bookish Life:

Goodreads has let me know I am five books behind on my goal of 150- I may not make it this year and I think I am okay with that.  There just isn’t as much time now that the gym is a nearly daily thing.

I did finish We Are Never Meeting In Real Life and Detective Cross (review pending).  I am on 16th Seduction by James Patterson and then I plan to start Still Here.

So that’s me for the week.  What’s up with you?

Amber