Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"What You Left Behind" by Jessica Verdi

Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Kindle
Publication: August 4, 2015 by Source Ebooks
Cover Rating: 2/5 Stars

From Goodreads: It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

My Thoughts: First of all, I would like to say a huge thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for giving me an ARC of this book.

What You Left Behind sucks you in from the very first page. I'm not kidding. From the first few pages I knew that I would enjoy this book and that I would go through it pretty quickly (and I did). I really felt connected to these characters and truly cared about what happened to them. They were so relatable. Although, I'm not going to lie, as a new momma there were times when I really just wanted to punch 17 year old baby daddy Ryden in the face for making poor choices when it came to his baby. But overall, I liked him as our narrator and protagonist.

I also loved the chemistry between *all* of our characters. Nothing felt cliche or stiff. I really enjoy when an author takes time to make all the characters feel real and not cardboard. Jessica Verdi did a wonderful job of connecting everyone together.

Okay, so the plot probably reads kind of cheesy at first glance, but I promise it's not, because it's so well executed. Yes, there's teen pregnancy and cancer, but there's also coming of age. It's not your typical Hallmark-y fluff.

Bottom Line: Overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Bookish Habits I Want to Quit:

1. Feeling like I have to finish a book that I'm not enjoying. I don't know why I do this, but it's like my OCD kicks in and I feel like I have to finish a book once I've started it.

2. Feeling guilty over guilty pleasure books. You know, the cotton candy, fluffy, sugary good kind.

3. Not finishing a series I used to love, only because I can't remember what happened in the previous books.

4. Not taking notes so the above doesn't happen.

5. Reading one particular genre for so long until I run it into the ground and no longer enjoy it. I need more variety.

6. Accidentally zoning out when I'm listening to an audio book. This is super rare, but usually happens when I have a lot on my mind.

7. Stressing out over meeting my reading goal of the year. I have actually put books off for a little while because I would be behind on my reading challenge and I know they would take me longer to read than something else.

8. Not saving up or putting money aside for sequels, thus having to wait forever before I buy them (see #3).

9. Hoarding books that I know I will *never* read (like any L.J. Smith book that's not the original Secret Circle series).

10. Snapping at the hubs when he interrupts me from a 4 hour reading session.

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Confess" by Colleen Hoover

Genre: New Adult
Format: Kindle
Publication: March 10, 2015 by Atria Books
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars

From Goodreads: Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

My Thoughts: Sigh. Sadly, there's not a lot I can say about Confess. There is no doubt that Colleen Hoover is amazingly creative. The woman incorporates poetry, music, art, etc into all of her novels, and we've witnessed some amazing work from her because of it. But (and I think I must be in the minority here), I just have a hit and miss relationship with her books. Which makes me so, so sad because when I do love her books, I really LOVE them. For instance, Maybe Someday is one of my all time favorite New Adult novels. It's just incredible. Enough to where I've read it twice. I also really loved Slammed and Finding Cinderella. However, Confess just fell flat for me. Besides the fact that she was super original by including actual art work in her book, nothing really stood out. The characters were meh at best, the plot felt silly, and the romance rushed. I don't know what happened or if it's just me, but it felt mediocre.

Bottom Line: I would skip it.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age
Format: Kindle
Publication: September 10, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Cover Rating: 5/5 Stars

From Goodreads: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts: First off, can I just declare my love for Rainbow Rowell for a second? Not only does she have one of the coolest names ever (and this coming from me- Sonnie Rainey), but the lady can write some of the most emotionally gripping stories ever. I feel like if her and John Green came together and wrote a story, it would leave us all emotionally crippled for life. FOR LIFE. I just want them to by my Aunt and Uncle. Aunt Rainbow and Uncle John. I would have went to them with all my teenage/ new adult angst and they would have understood and made it better. Because they're Rainbow Rowell and John Green and they get it.

Okay, moving on. Fangirl has been sitting on my Kindle for ages because I was just so sure that it couldn't live up to the phenomenal Eleanor and Park. But finally, I decided that enough time had passed that if it didn't live up to my high expectations I wouldn't be too terribly disappointed. Well, I'm here to tell you I was wrong. I was so flippin' wrong. It was amazing. SO AMAZING. I instantly fell in love with Cath. I AM Cath. Okay, no, I'm not. I don't write fanfiction, but I just got her, you know? She was so relatable. She was me as a Freshman in college, where everything is new and big and so so scary- even the damn cafeteria is scary. And Rainbow Rowell captured all of it perfectly.

And if that's not enough, you even get a story inside of a story. So, while Cath is experiencing college, we also get these awesome, coinciding snipets of a Harry Potter-isk novel called Simon Snow and the.... It's a fantasy series that has been a huge part of Cath's adolescent life, and one that she has recreated in her fanfiction called Carry On, Simon. I think you have to be pretty talented to write a novel inside of another novel and keep the readers attention at the same time. But Rowell does it. Because she's amazing. She captures the whole art of fangirling while at the same time creating a whole NEW fandom! Because this whole time that sneaky little woman was writing a novel called... wait for it... CARRY ON about SIMON SNOW. It comes out this week. WTF. Mind blown

Bottom Line: Just go by all of Rainbow Rowells books. Now. Go now.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Saturday, October 3, 2015

100 Things I Love.

  1. Jesus Christ.
  2. River Alexandria.
  3. My Husband.
  4. Family/Friends in general.
  5. A room filled with books.
  6. MaddiePup.
  7. Candles, especially Fall scents.
  8. Fuzzy socks.
  9. Goodbye morning kisses from Zachary when his beard smells like the woodsy oil he uses on it.
  10. Homemade soaps.
  11. A clean house.
  12. Over-sized Sweatshirts.
  13. Strolling River.
  14. Writing.
  15. Pens. Tons of pens. 
  16. Notebooks.
  17. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  18. Heating Blankets.
  19. Reading outside.
  20. Dark fingernail polish.
  21. Harry Potter.
  22. Chicken Alfredo.
  23. Red Wine.
  24. Secluded Houses/ cabins.
  25. Scary movies.
  26. Graveyards.
  27. Cherry Coke.
  28. Board Games.
  29. Collecting anything.
  30. Snuggling up with Zack before falling asleep.`
  31. Freshly shaved legs against clean sheets.
  32. Rainy, lazy days curled up on my couch with hot tea and a book.
  33. Reading bedtime stories to River before she falls asleep.
  34. Crimson. The color... and the Tide.
  35. Listening to my grandmothers tell me old stories about their childhood.
  36. Organized bookshelves.
  37. Starbucks coffee at B&N while I roam the store like I have money to spend.
  38. Driving with the windows rolled down listening to music.
  39. The smell of books... especially old books.
  40. Letters.
  41. Fluffy pillows.
  42. River's laugh.
  43. John Green quotes.
  44. Any Jane Austin movie.
  45. Black Chuck Taylors.
  46. The 10th Doctor...Allons-y!
  47. Lists. Grocery Lists. To Be Read Lists. Best of Lists. Organization period.
  48. Creepily watching my husband be completely absorbed in a book and realizing that I married my soulmate.
  49. Traveling.
  50. Slip on shoes. 
  51. Leggings. Lots of leggins. I'm one of those annoying people who will wear leggings with everything as soon as it's seasonably appropriate.
  52. Chocolate.
  53. Being nostalgic.
  54. Blogging.
  55. Flannel.
  56. The grunge period of the 90's. I seriously belong there.
  57. Pinterest.
  58. When Harry Met Sally.
  59. Now. I love myself/ my life right this second. I've never felt more comfortable in my own skin.
  60. The sound of a typewriter.
  61. Using the fireplace on cold winter nights.
  62. A mixed CD filled with Bon Iver that my cousin made me in '09.
  63. Bubble baths. With wine and a book.
  64. Being a Mom.
  65. Holding hands.
  66. My wedding rings.
  67. Fangirling.
  68. Falling in love with fictional characters.
  69. Dark hardwood floors.
  70. Face lotion.
  71. Driving through the Christmas Lights house every year with Zack since we've been together.
  72. Baking... especially cookies.
  73. My glasses.
  74. How big and bright blue River's eyes are.
  75. Taking advantage of the library.
  76. Bobby Pins
  77. The red in Zack's beard.
  78. Seeing someone read an obscure book that I love and then instantly connecting with them.
  79. Taking pictures.
  80. Walking the beach at night.
  81. Lit class.
  82. Poetry.
  83. Scottish dudes. It's the accent.
  84. Audible.
  85. Goodreads.
  86. Seeing my entire family on Christmas.
  87. Brushing my teeth before bed.
  88. Witch Hazel + Lavender.
  89. Owl figurines/ trinkets.
  90. When my husband cooks.
  91. Musicals. Especially RENT. And Buffy's "Once More with Feeling".
  92. Chandler Bing.
  93. Surprises.
  94. Hearing River say "Momma".
  95. Reading out loud.
  96. Studying my Bible.
  97. Marathon-ing fantasy movies with the hubs.
  98. Reimagined fairy tales.
  99. Noses. Long, straight noses. I have a thing. It's weird.
  100. Weekends.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

TTT: Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors
Review: "The Dead List" by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Review: "The Shining" by Stephen King

I've wanted this book for two years now and it finally went on sale for one day this week at Amazon, so I knew I couldn't pass it up. I was really trying to hold off and buy the hardback (because I mean, just look at that cover- so gorgeous), but I'd rather be able to read it than have it sitting prettily on my shelf. Not to mention, I'm totally running out of book space in my house.

Mom life has pretty much made me in love with Audible/ Audiobooks. While I'm cooking or cleaning, I can leave one ear phone in (and one out to hear River) and actually get some real reading done. And as for Doctor Sleep? It's amazing. I already highly recommend it.

Okay, so this wasn't really a purchase because it's free on Kindle, but still. It's a novella to the Starbound series.

Friday, August 21, 2015

"The Shining" by Stephen King

Genre: Horror
Format: Audio
Narrator: Campbell Scott
Publication: Anchor in 1977
Cover Rating: 5/5 Stars

From Goodreads: Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control. 

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? 

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel - and that too had begun to shine...

My Thoughts: Oh, Stephen King, you creepy, creepy man! I'm going to keep this review short and sweet. Basically, if you enjoyed the movie, you're going to love the book. If you love horror, you're going to love this book. If you love Stephen King, you will love this book. So with that said, here are some things that I particularly enjoyed while listening to the novel:

  • The narrator. Campbell Scott does an *excellent* job of making each character distinct. When you're listening to an audio-book, it's important that each character has their own "voice". Mr. Scott does a wonderful job at this.
  • The Creep Factor. Obviously, Stephen King is, well, the King of Horror, so of course this book was going to be terrifying. I just didn't realize how terrifying. There were so many times that I actually had to cut off my phone to stop listening because I got so creeped out.
  • Danny and Jack. While I just wanted to punch Wendy Torrence in the face for being an idiot, I did love Jack and Danny's characters. Jack was just this insane ball of intelligence and violence. He was constantly trying to do the "right" thing, and always failing. Danny was just as interesting with his interactions with Tony and his psychic talent. I was so thrilled to know that King picked up Danny's character again in his novel Doctor Sleep. He's definitely one character I'm not ready to leave behind yet.
  • The Comedy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while, yes, this novel could be considered absolutely completely horror, it also had some laugh-out-loud moments (although very few and in between). There were times while I was cleaning my kitchen that I would snicker out loud while my husband looked at me like I was crazy.
Bottom Line: While Pet Sematary will always be my favorite King book (at least until I read It anyway), I would definitely recommend The Shining to any horror fan.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"The Dead List" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: YA Thriller/ Mystery
Format: Wattpad
Publication: April 15, 2015 by JLA
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: The Dead List is a precious gift from the Awesome One (also known as Jennifer L. Armentrout or JLA) to all of her fans. It was published a few months ago on the site Wattpad and it's FREE for however long the Awesome One so feels inclined for it to be.

But for real, on to the review. I'm a huge JLA Fangirl (in case you couldn't tell) and there's a reason for that. She cranks out novels like nobody's business and they never disappoint. They're always good and delicious and leave you wanting more. The Dead List is no different.

Meet Ella:  She's your average high-school girl, who's just trying to move on with her life after a mutual break up with her boyfriend/ best-friend. But someone doesn't want Ella to move on. Someone knows about Ella's tragic past, and they're not about to let her forget. After narrowly escaping an attack herself, Ella watches on the sidelines as her peers start to disappear, only to show up dead later. But then she starts to notice a trend. Something... or someone actually, connects them all. Someone who Ella failed when she was young and naive. And now someone out there wants revenge on all of those involved.

Here's the thing: If you like those 90's campy pyscho killer horror flicks (like Scream), you will love The Dead List. Of course, there's great character development and the plot has plenty of twists and turns, but what I really loved was the nostalgia of it. It's no secret that I love cheesed horror films and the 90's, so this was like getting a Godivia Chocolate Cheese Cake (because they're boss) AND a glass of your favorite wine!

Bottom Line:  I would definitely recommend this book, and I would also tell you to read it ASAP. Because while JLA hasn't mentioned taking it off Wattpad anytime soon, why would you wait and chance it?

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This weeks topic, Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors, was kind of difficult for me. If I really love an author's first book, chances are I'm going to put them on my auto-buy list. But here's my top ten, hands-down, must have their next book no matter what (in no particular order):

1. Jennifer L. Armentrout
This lady can write directions to children's toys and I would probably be fangriling to read it. Seriously, everything she writes has just been five stars for me. I'm never bored in her novels and they always leave me wanting the next book. Not to mention she cranks out novels like every month. She's pretty much a rockstar in my book.

2. John Green
I just want John Green to be my wise long-lost uncle. Uncle John. I would set there and listen to him and soak up his awesome wisdom and be content with life. Because Uncle John would know how to deal with life and all it's problems.

3. Colleen Hoover
Because she's the master of romance, and sometimes I need a little romance.

4. J.K. Rowling
Despite having not read The Casual Vacancy or her Cormoran Strike series, she is still on my auto buy list. I just haven't gotten around to reading them yet sadly.

5. Cassandra Clare
There's going to come a point eventually when I WILL get bored with the Shadow Hunter world. I thought it would happen with the last book, but then freaking Cassandra Clare sucked me in again with new characters that she is making a spin off series about. So until that day comes, I will have CC on my auto-buy list. Probably forever.

6. Richelle Mead
Richelle Mead is the OG of YA paranormal for me (okay, I know she's not really, but her books are really what started my YA PNR and UF obsession). This lady will always be on my auto-buy list. I have yet to read a series by her that I haven't been obsessed with.

7. Tana French
My love of mystery novels stems from Tana French's In the Woods. Her Dublin Murder Squad books do *not* disappoint.

8. S.C. Stephens
This lady wrote my favorite romance novel ever... Thoughtless. It's filled with lots of angst and Kellan Kyle (who is my #1 book boyfriend). Everything she writes I just become obsessed with... I promise, I'm not stalking you SC Stephens!

9. Stephenie Meyer
IF Stephenie Meyer ever writes anything again, I will definitely buy it. While Hollywood pretty much ran Twilight into the ground, I still loved Mrs. Meyer's writing and her stories.

10. Jim Butcher
Okay, so this is more for my husband, Zack, then for me. You want to see a grown man fangirling, just come to my house when Jim Butcher comes out with a new novel. While I am a fan of The Dresden Files, I still haven't completed the series. Zack however finishes each book the night it comes out.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday

If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be?

1. That my daughter would live a long and happy life.
2. That my husband and I would have our dream home (a four bedroom house set far back in the woods with no neighbors) paid for.
3. And to magically blink and be anywhere in the world that I wanted!

*Let me know the way(s) in which you follow me and a LINK back to your blog so I can follow you back in the same way(s)!*

When You're Not Always a Good Person...

It's hard to admit, but sometimes, I suck at being a good person. A good bit of the time I fail at being a Christian. I have flaws. I'm not perfect. I can be really selfish. I get caught up in the world or in my own little bubble and I don't try to see others or what's going on around me.

I'm sad to say, this is a post about me failing.

A few months ago, right before I had River and was in third trimester misery, I was in my hometown doing a quick stop at Dollar General. It had been a rough week for me. I just had to replace two tires on our car along with some major service updating to it. Basically, I forked out a lot of money we didn't really have because we were trying to save for my maternity leave. I was ill. I wobbled when I walked. Sleep was not easy. And I had a baby using my belly as her own personal kick boxing ring. So when a haggard girl with black teeth came swerving up to me and asked to borrow money, my automatic response was to roll my eyes and sneer "No".

I then watched as she went up to the two ladies parked next to me, both of whom where dressed in their Sunday best, and talking about church for that night. I watched, putting my bags of cleaning supplies in my trunk, as the both shook their head no and then returned back to their conversation. I then got in my car and drove home, my mind already forgetting the girl and back on to how we were going to make it without me working for six weeks.

Last week, I ran into this same girl on my way to take River to her four month check up. She again came swerving into the gas station I was at. Her hair was matted, she was now missing a tooth and she looked like she hadn't slept in days. She quickly hopped out of her car and asked me "Do you have $4 I can borrow?" I didn't even pause before saying no. I got back in my car, opened up my Cherry Coke and started to drive off when I saw her quickly leave the store empty handed and speed off once again.

I'm ashamed to say it took me getting half-way down the road before I realized that I failed. Not just at being a good person, but I failed God. Twice. Instead of letting my brain make swift judgments on this person, I should have stopped. I should have paused long enough to at least ask her what she needed the money for. Maybe it was for food, or for her kids, or for gas. Whatever it was for, I should have stopped and looked at her as an actual human being asking for help, and not someone who was just annoying me or interrupting my life briefly. But I didn't.

I'm going to get honest and say that life, financially, hasn't always been easy for me. My father passed away when I was three, leaving my mom to raise me by herself. There were times growing up that I can look back on and now realize that we had help from family, friends, and even strangers. As a kid though, I never noticed it. I always seemed to get what I wanted no matter what. Until of course, I became a sulky, moody teenager. There was one year right before high-school that my mom and I were having a particularly hard time. I was outgrowing all of my clothes, and on top of that I thought I "needed" a bunch of excessive junk to complete my life. Unfortunately for teenage me, my mom had just told me school clothes shopping was going to have to be put on hold for a while. I was being your typical hormonal 14 year old and selfishly thinking how I was going to "make it" in high school with what I had, when the most bizarre thing happened: I opened my Bible. Later, this wouldn't be so strange, but at the time I wasn't much of a church goer. In fact, I had become pretty angry with God and questioned His whole existence. But something that day made me want to open my Bible, so I did. And I ran across Matthew 6:25-33:

25“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26. Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29. yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Afterwards, a huge weight lifted off of me. I knew God was speaking directly to me. I felt it in every fiber of my being. God was telling me to chill. 
And he was right.
Later on that week, we mysteriously had much more than enough money to buy my school supplies, clothes, and even make-up.

So why am I posting about this? Because God has humbled me. Because this has stayed with me all week. Because I want my daughter to grow up to be better than me. Because I want to be the kind of person who admits when they've made a mistake and fix it. But mostly, I just don't want someone else to make the same decision I did.

The only person who lost out in this story was me. I robbed myself of a blessing, simply because I had become too selfish. Not about the cash, but about my time. I didn't give this girl even a minute of my time. I forget sometimes that God wants to use me. I constantly let opportunities to serve him pass me by when I become too arrogant or self absorbed. This is just one other reminder that I still need work. I'm not there yet. I can't put my relationship with God on the back burner. It's not worth it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Books, Kitchen Fire, and Netflix.

Finished Reading: 
"WTF" is the only way to describe this thriller. It will most certainly have you turning the pages well after mindight as you try to figure out what will happen next.
*Side Note: Hollywood couldn't have picked a better actor than Ben Affleck to play Nick Dunne.*

Started Reading:
Ashamed to say this has been sitting on my bookshelf for years and for some reason I just never picked it up. So far, I'm definitely impressed! Plus, I love my overseas cover of this book thanks to my awesome GReep (Goodreads Peep) that sent it to me for my birthday.

Started Listening To:
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Absolutely hilarious. If Libba Bray never made it as an author, she definitely could have made a career as an audio-book narrator. She does a superb job of making each character their own. Highly entertaining.

New Momma Problem #215:
Misplaced Brain.
Being a new mom is awesome, but I do sometimes wonder if River took half my brain with her when she came out. Example: This week I attempted to cook bacon and biscuits with chocolate gravy. During the process, I apparently laid down the PLASTIC container full of sugar on a hot eye. Result: Sugar Explosion. Ever tried to clean burned sugar/ plastic out of a stove top? Let me just tell you, it's not easy or pretty.

Binging on Netflix:
So. Funny. Plus, it has Martha Plimpton in it, and she's just fantastic.

Rainey Health Kick Starting Off:
This week Zack and I decided to *finally* get serious about eating better. We don't eat out often, however we do cook a lot of fried, carb-loaded, cheesy meals (aka Heart-Attack Dinners). So this weekend we went to the grocery store and spent all our food money on veggies, fruit, and other good-for-you grub. P.S. I don't care what anyone says, eating healthy IS more expensive, but if you shop at Aldi's you should be good. It's like buying regular food at Wal-Mart ;)
But hopefully with the good food and MyFitnessPal we can shed some pounds, or at least lower our future cholesterol. Also, I really need to add in an exercise routine to my week, but so far it's just way too hot to go outside, so I'm on the lookout for good home exercise DVDs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Postpartum Anxiety.

So, I'm about to get really "real" here for a min. For the past three months, since giving birth to my completely adorable little girl, I have been suffering from severe anxiety. And for the past three months I have done absolutely nothing about it. Because it's normal, right? I mean, sure we've heard about Postpartum Depression, but that's not me. I'm not depressed. I'm actually the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Except for the anxiety.

 I've always been a fairly anxious person. I tend to worry about little things, but it's never really effected my daily life or relationships. Until I gave birth. It started on the day we left the hospital. For the entire stay I had wanted nothing more than to get home and start our new life together. But when the moment came, I became instantly anxious. Doubt crept into my head big time. What if we did something wrong? What if she still wasn't eating good? What if we got in a wreck on the way home? What if something was wrong with my post birth body and I died?

It was on the drive home that I had my first "new mommy breakdown". Our tire was low from the temperature dropping during our hospital stay, and my husband was forced to pull over into a bad neighborhood to get it aired up. As soon as he got out of the car I started sobbing while River wrapped her tiny little hand around my finger. I just knew someone was going to rob us. Someone was going to rob the store we were at, and my husband or I would get shot leaving River without a mother or a father. Someone would try and steal the car with River and me in it. The crazy imaginary scenarios were endless. Looking back, some part of me deep down knew that I could chalk all these fears up to hormones, but at the time, I couldn't deal. I was convinced that one or all of these things were going to happen.

But things have mellowed out for me somewhat since those first weeks. Recovering from birth was hard on me. I honestly believe that even though I had a perfectly healthy birth, I was traumatized from it. I had never experienced anything like that and I was terrified I was going to die from it. Not because it was painful (it was), but because it was just so monumental. My hands would shake for weeks afterward just thinking about it, and even now I still get a small knot in my stomach whenever I think of the way I felt post birth.

 However, I'm still suffering from anxiety. Since having River, I go into Death Con 5 Panic Mode at least once or twice a day- meaning that I feel an invisible band tightening around my chest and crying jags that I have to calm myself down from or have Zack calm me down from. Usually the stem from "what if" thoughts that pop into my head, or something small will happen that will just send me on a melt-down (like paying a bill late, making me believe that we will eventually end up homeless). I haven't been out with my friends in months. MONTHS. Not because they haven't asked, but because I'm too anxious to leave River for long periods of time. Being at work is torture. I constantly call or text my grandmothers (who keep her) to check in. Night time is the worst. I hate to even type this out, but I am terrified of SIDS. I constantly wake up to check on her. Even just "saying" it out loud makes me feel like I can't breathe. The only way I was finally able to relax enough to get sleep about a month ago was because I decided to pray every night that God would protect River. That he would make sure she lives a long, happy, and satisfying life. And so far, that's helped. Some.

But my anxiety is not only harming me now, it's been harming my marriage. While most days I can try to talk myself up into being a "normal" care-free person, sometimes that just doesn't happen. And I get angry. I get angry because a part of me wonders if I will ever feel like myself again. I get angry that my husband doesn't always understand that I can't just make myself relax (even though he does try). I snap at family and friends for little things that I would normally just let go. I feel overwhelmed a lot, and I feel like I have to do everything myself... when in reality, that's just no the case. My husband, bless him, has offered multiple times to keep River alone so I can go out, and each time I am the one to refuse. The only good thing is I can honestly say I am never angry at River. Even if she is having a melt-down I'm able to put aside my anxiety and be the mom she needs me to be. In fact, she is the one person who makes me feel like I can breathe again. When we curl up to watch TV together or we "talk" and she laughs and giggles... that band eases off of my chest.

I started writing this post a few weeks ago, and I wasn't sure how I was going to end it (or if I was even going to publish it since it was so personal). I was facing two choices: take a prescription of Zoloft that my doctor had prescribed me, or continue on trying to "deal" with the anxiety. Last week I decided to give the Zoloft a try. I honestly hate medicine. I wouldn't even take pain relief after giving birth. It's just not my thing. I don't like to feel out of control, and I have a family history of addiction, so it's always just made sense for me to avoid it. But after much discussion with my husband, I felt like it was in my best interest to give it a try. I was almost relieved when I couldn't take it. The whole day I felt hung-over. I had a major migraine. I felt queasy and dizzy and sluggish. I had taken anti-depressants before when I was younger, but nothing had ever made me feel like this. Once I completely eliminated the idea of taking medication for my anxiety, I felt a huge wave of relief roll over me... which is weird, I know. But for months I had been sitting on the fence: to medicate or not. So making a decision, any decision, was a huge weight off my shoulders. I could finally start looking into alternatives. Which is what I did. I joined a group of mother's who suffered from anxiety. I talked to other moms in my family. I found out that I wasn't alone and it was kind of amazing. I found out what other moms were doing for their anxiety, and customized a plan to battle my own. I'm happy to say, so far it's helping. Sure, my anxiety isn't completely gone (and honestly, it probably never will be), but with the help of vitamins, eating better, exercise, meditation, prayer, and yes, taking time off for myself, I've been able to cut a huge chunk of my anxiety out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I'm Loving this Week!

1. Weeds starring Mary Louise Parker. I know, I'm totally behind on this train, but this show is so hilarious and addictive. And the best part? Netflix has all the seasons. Highly recommend.

2. Wal-Mart's Scentsy knock-off cubes and room sprays. Seriously, they smell fantastic (or at least the lemon scent does) and they're half the price.

3. This Article and photo of the #followmeto guy. So romantic!

4. Snuggling up in bed with little River and watching her watch cartoons... and okay, watching them myself. River is hitting that stage where she is super alert and watching everything... especially the TV. I'm actually having to cut off the TV when I feed her so she'll eat because she gets so distracted by it (see below)!

5. Video Baby Monitors! I have just started putting River in her crib during the day to take her naps and I need to give a huge shout out to whoever thought of the idea for video baby monitors because it helps to ease this crazy Momma's anxiety by a billion!

6. Wednesday Pool Days. Okay, so my mom has a pretty sweet blow up pool in her VERY secluded back yard, and I have totally been taking advantage of it. For about two hours on Wednesdays I let little River chill with her grandmother while I go sun and read a book, nap, or just zen out. It works out perfectly because I'm actually able to FULLY relax knowing that River is just right in the house- which is amazing for me because I feel like I haven't had that feeling since River came into the world (Momma's you know what I'm talking about).

Friday, May 29, 2015

Bucket List!

1. Get a Tattoo.
2. See Starry Night in person.

3. Get married.

4. Eat a macaron in Paris.
5. Watch a silent movie.

6. Have a family.

7. See the Northern Lights in Alaska.
8. Eat Hagelslag in Holland.

9. Have a pixie cut.

10. Read all of Jane Austin.
11. Ride a train.
12. Publish a novel.
13. Attend Book Expo America
14. Visit Powell's Bookstore in Portland, Oregon.
15. Have my cards/palm read in New Orleans
16. Go on a spontaneous road trip with no clear destination in mind.
17. Have a honeymoon.
18. Actually run (and not die) a 5K marathon (specifically color run).
19.Go camping out in the "wild".
20. Visit a castle in Ireland.
21. Visit Harry Potter World

22. Join a book club.
23. Visit the Grand Canyon
24. Experience zero gravity.
25. Go skinny-dipping. (Sorry, no pictures for this one! You're welcome!)
26. Dye my hair an outrageous color.
27. Attend Comic Con
28. Have a garden.
29. Catch a fish.
30. Watch Dead Poets Society.
31. Visit the Poe Museum in Baltimore.
32. See the play A Midsummer Night's Dream
33. Have a Picnic in the park.
34. Watch the sunrise over the ocean.
35. Graduate from college
36.  Buy a house.
37. Go to London and see the play "The Cursed Child" by JK Rowling.
38. Stay at a Bed & Breakfast.
39. Build a fort with River.
40. Pay for River's college.
41. Go Stargazing in a truck full of blankets.
42. Leave notes in books at a used bookstore.
43. Be a Bridesmaid.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things... This Week!

    1. Adore starring Robin Wright and Naomi Watts. Browsing through My (very long) List on Netflix, I found this little gem. It's bizarre, passionate, and pretty intense. I love the chemistry between all the characters, not to mention the absolute beauty of the actors. I hope I age as prettily as The Princess Bride.

    2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman. I really *loved* this story. Gayle Forman has a wonderful knack for putting you in the shoes of her characters, making it impossible to leave them alone. Of course, in true Forman fashion we do get a sort of "non-ending" in this book (similar to that of If I Stay). So if you like absolute, door-slamming closure, you may want to skip this one. But you'd be missing out.

    3. My new do. I'm not going to lie, this is a love/hate relationship depending on my mood. One minute I'm almost in tears over my long hair, the next I'm rejoicing over how easy and fun it is. It doesn't hurt that the hubs loves it and compliments me on it all the time. And the fact that I just whacked off all my hair does make me feel a little bit more brave. Of course, having River made me feel like a boss, so apparently I just think I'm a badass now ;) ...still don't do upside down coasters though.

    4. The Pandora station called "The Mozart Effect (Children's) Radio".  It plays tons of (mostly classic rock) cover songs, but with a classical twist. Boo and I listen to it often while she plays on her play mat.

    5. This picture. We both just look like a two adorable (on her part) goons.

    6. This Article on Buffy.Seriously, number eighteen. Oz & Willow. But I pretty much teared up all the way through it.

    7. That new Netflix show called Between. Could Netflix be any cooler?

    8. The moment the hubs humored me and danced with me last Saturday to "In My Life" by the Beatles because it's one of my all time favorite songs. It was a little awkward considering he's a 6'2 giant while I'm just 5'2, but super sweet because I had wanted it to be the song we danced to at OUR wedding, but was unable to because (a) I forgot the music and (b) our reception "hall" was way too small to dance in.

    9. And finally, the fact that River has quite possibly got the hang of sleeping through the entire night! I mean, she still tries to wake up at 5:00 am, but me and her pacifier shut that down pretty quick... at least until 6:30.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2015

    Seven Things I've Learned So Far About Being A Mom For Seven Weeks.

    1. Being a mom is weirdly wonderful. You're utterly exhausted (I'm talking can't-hold-your-eyes-open-during-work-hardly-bone-tired), but you have NEVER been happier in your entire life.

    2. Despite the fact that I would probably slay a demon to take a real nap, I still smile and laugh when River decides that 4:00 am is a good time to giggle and wake up for the day.

    3. I finally understand selfless love. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband with my whole heart and I know he feels that way about me too, but after birthing River I found another level of that love so intense and deep that I am just blown away by it daily.

    4. I don't mind that my husband frequently kisses and cuddles with another girl every single day. Watching Zack bond with, and take care of, our daughter fills my heart with even more love for him. We've always been great together, but having a baby has brought us even closer. We also appreciate each other so much more than we did in the past, because we're a team and we know the only way to get through this is together.

    5. For what is probably the first time ever in my life, I'm *proud* of my body. I'm proud of what I endured, and that my body helped to give life to this amazing human being. I feel so much stronger knowing that I went through giving birth. 

    6. My goals and dreams didn't go away, if anything they became more intense. I was terrified that being a mom meant that I was going to lose myself. I was thrilled to be pregnant, but I was scared of never being me again. But the truth is, I'm still the same person. I'm still a huge geek. I still want the same things that I wanted before, but even more so now because I want my daughter to know that her mother reached her goals and that she didn't settle. 

    7. "Mothering Instincts" are real. I thought it was just a myth, but I promise you, I know better than anyone else what River wants and what she needs. It's a scary thing because I know that on down the road I will have to let go of these instincts, or at least loosen up on them, so River can be her own person. But for now, she needs me and my instincts and I will absolutely cherish these early days for the rest of my life.

    Saturday, May 2, 2015

    "Dorothy Must Die" by Danielle Paige

    Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
    Genre: YA Fantasy/ Retellings
    Format: Kindle
    Publication: April 2014 by Harper Collins
    Cover Rating: 3/5 Stars

    Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depo,

    From Goodreads: I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

    But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?

    Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.

    What happened? Dorothy.

    They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

    My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

    I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

    I've been trained to fight.

    And I have a mission.

    My Thoughts: Dorothy Must Die has to be my least favorite fairytale retelling that I have ever read, and I had such high hopes for it to. I mean, just look at that cover! This book was designed to lure you in with a cover like that! But alas, I feel victim once again to my cover lust.

    So, here's my issues with DMD:

    1. Pacing- While this novel started off VERY strong, it quickly got boring fast... and slightly confusing. The story seemed to drag on and on, without bothering to really explain certain important plot elements. By the time I was half-way through, I was already wanting it to just be over with.

    2. Characters- While our MC, Amy Gumm is pretty rad and awesome, the rest of the stories characters are FLAT and lame. I didn't feel any kind of connection or love for any of the side characters, or their relationship to Amy. Even Dorothy herself was just plain boring. And don't even get me started on the love interest, Nox (I could seriously punch myself in the face trying to get through reading scenes with him).

    3. Immature writing, but with adult language- This was the real kicker for me. The story read for a young audience (think 14 and younger), but it felt like the author changed her mind by dropping the F-Bomb randomly throughout the story to "adult it up", which just came off as silly.

    Bottom Line: I won't be recommending this one.

    My Rating: 2/5 Stars

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    Breaking "The" Rules

    When I was pregnant I had a certain mind set of how life with baby was going to be. There were going to be things that I just knew I would not compromise on. For example:

    1. She was going to be strictly breastfeed for at least six months.
    2. No sleeping with the us IN the bed or on her stomach.
    3. No "spoiling" her by constant holding (by myself or family members).
    4. No pacifiers

    The list could go on and on. However, I can now humbly say that I honestly had no idea what I was talking about. I thought that by reading all these articles, blogs, and baby books that I was prepared for my little River. HA! While yes, I was "prepared" for her to some extent, I most certainly wasn't prepared for how exhausting a newborn baby can be, and how by the second week you're willing to do just about anything to get her little butt to sleep for at least four hours straight during the night.

    Well, here we are almost into week three and I have successfully broken all (probably) of my rules.

    1. Breastfeeding went out the window in the first week.

    2. By week two, River was taking naps on her tummy (although I still put her on her back at night just to be safe). I'm also guilty of letting her catnap with me in the bed during the day.

    3. Have YOU ever tried to tell a new grandma to put the baby down so she won't be spoiled? Or would you rather keep your mouth shut (like me) and tip toe quietly into your bedroom so you can get some quick shut eye while she's fawning over your little love? Yeah, that's what I thought.

    4. Psh. Second night into the world, River had a binkie in her mouth and I haven't looked back since.

    Like I said, every new mommy rule I had made pre-birth has been broken or proven to be obsolete for us. And the real kicker? I don't feel guilty or bad over it. Because I'm finding out that only you as their parent truly knows what's best for your baby. Does this mean I don't take advice? Heck no. I constantly ask my own mother a million questions a day. But I pick and choose what I want to follow or what I think will work best for us. 

    And with letting go of all of my "rules" I've become more relaxed and able to just enjoy being a new mom. Because that's really what it's supposed to be about right now- simply soaking up every ounce of time I get to spend with her and love on her. I'll never get this time back, so why waste it on a rigid schedule and crazy ideas that don't really work for us anyway?

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a little munchkin to cuddle up with and read to.

    Friday, April 10, 2015

    Being a New Mom: Formula, Insomnia, and Baby Blues!

    Well, River (and my husband and I for that matter) have survived the first two weeks of her coming into the world!

    It's been an amazing two weeks. I'm so in love with her, and the more time that passes, the more comfortable I feel in my new role as a Mom. In fact, I don't think I have ever felt more comfortable in any role in my entire life as I do with this one. After the first week, something inside of me just snapped into place that made me realize I was going to be awesome at this. Hopefully ;)

    But, there has definitely been some surprises and melt-downs (because I'm not a cyborg and every new parent out there is entitled to MULTIPLE melt-downs). First off, there was the whole breast-feeding fiasco. Pre-birth I was so "devoted" to breast-feeding. There was no way my sweet baby was going on formula. Period. Because everyone knows breast is best, right? Well, turns out it wasn't right for us. River had the worst time latching on for several different reasons. The second night in the hospital that she was screaming crying (and not sleeping), I caved and asked for a bottle. I was completely torn because I did not want to go to formula, but at the same time, my baby was hungry and I felt like she needed to eat. It was the first time I threw out the "rules" and went with my mommy instinct. And guess what? She slept peacefully for a good four + solid hours. When we came home, I was still trying to breast-feed, but after a few days (of constant crying and not sleeping) it just got to the point where I was an emotional mess. I was still trying to recover from giving birth and having some major baby blues, top all that off with being the only source of food for a newborn and I just crashed into major stress land. Finally, I decided that breast was not best for either of us. She could tell that I was a basket case and it was causing her tension. When I switched over to formula completely, things became so much simpler for us. She slept ten times better because she was actually getting enough food. Not only that, but my husband could now split feedings with me so that I could get some rest and be a better parent for her, and he got to bond with her over feedings (because there is nothing more sweet than your baby looking up into your eyes when your feeding them). Of course, I still felt some mommy guilt over it (how could I not when almost everyone out there talks about how amazing breast-feeding is for your baby), but in the end I realized that the only two people who knew what was best for River ultimately was my husband and me. After that, things got better.

    Being sleep deprived was another challenge for us, but at least that one was expected. In all honesty though, I think we kind of lucked out on this one- at least for now. From day one of bringing her home we set River into a bedtime routine. Around 9:40 she gets a bath (or in the beginning a sponge bath), gets a bottle, and then we all snuggle up in bed to read a story. After that she gets swaddled up and placed in her bassinet (complete with ocean sounds blasting) beside the bed by 11:00 pm and is asleep until 2:00 or 3:00 am. Zack gets up for these middle of the night feedings where he changes her diaper, gives her a bottle, and then puts her straight back to bed. She's not up again until 6:30 am. I mean, don't get me wrong, I miss having a full nights sleep, but at this point I'm not jumping up at every little noise she makes anymore, and I feel like I'm getting enough rest to function during the day.

    Despite going on formula, the sleep deprivation, and of course, the baby blues, things have been wonderful for us. It's amazing to see River growing every day and I have never felt more empowered in my life. I gave birth to this beautiful human being who is growing into a real person. It's mind blowing.

    This coming up week though, I hope to be able to actually go out on a date with my husband and leave River with one of her grandparents for a few hours. I don't know if it's going to happen or not, because I'm still struggling with the idea of not being with her 24/7, but I know it needs to happen. And, it would be really nice for the hubs and I to have a date night and reward ourselves for bringing our awesome little human into the world.

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