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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A crappy year or a learning year?

This blog post is 100% inspired by one of my favorite authors, Jessica Spotswood.
She wrote on her blog about her "learning year".  This was her positive spin on saying 2013 sucked.

And I agree, 2013 was just a not so fun year for me either.  I'm very much looking forward to 2014 with lots of hope and promise.  Want to read what she wrote?  Here is the link:
http://www.jessicaspotswood.com/blog/2013/12/29/2013-a-learning-year-managing-expectations/

I wasn't even going to write today.  I once again was going to leave my blog a little silent this week.
But I do enjoy blogging and I'm hoping to start refreshed in 2014.  And then I read Jessica's post and I thought...that's what I need to do.  I need to reflect on this year and decide what did I learn?
****************************************************************************

So....everything above I wrote on December 30th with full intention of posting it today, Dec. 31st.
And then this morning I got up, got ready for work, stepped out of my bedroom and stepped directly into dog puke.

GROSS!!!!
And it didn't stop there...it was all over the house and it was from both ends of my poor dog who was cowering in a corner knowing he had done a "bad" thing.
If you have been reading my blog for a few years, you might remember that a similar incident happened the last time I was pregnant.
You can review those posts here, but I wouldn't if you are eating:
http://danidoit.blogspot.com/2010/09/this-post-might-gross-you-out.html
http://danidoit.blogspot.com/2010/09/things-i-learned-yesterday.html
http://danidoit.blogspot.com/2010/09/oscar-update.html

I thought it was bad three years ago. It was much much much MUCH worse this morning.
And then when I was finally on my way to work I thought, was a perfect way to end a crappy year.
Crappy, get it? :)

And then I smiled. I can't wait for 2014.
I was going to recap my year and tell you all the bad stuff that happened and then try to find some meaning in it and what did I learn etc?  But instead...I'm going to say, goodbye 2013!  You were a very interesting year.

Hello 2014...what are you bringing me?  Besides a baby boy?....
Wait...baby...this will probably be another "crappy" year.  Oh well. :)

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

P.S. I did have a few good things happen this year.  Like happy folks getting married and buying a house and stuff like that. Overall, I'm one very lucky lady and I realize that. Better blog posts coming soon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Things

Going around facebook a few weeks ago was a "game" where you would list a number of things that people may or may not know about you.  If you commented on it...you got assigned a number.

I really enjoyed reading what people had to say.

And then I got assigned a number.  And I wanted to make sure I wrote something good. And then I realized it would make a great blog post.

So here we go, in no particular order, are 5 things, you may or may not know about me.

1. I like bass. As in bass guitar. Or the cello. I don't know why but something about those deep tones just really get to me. Sometimes it's a funky dance beat or a rocking song...but that bass guitar gets to me every time. When I listen to music, I tend to really go for that bass sound.

2. I love to host parties (at-home products, holiday parties, birthday party, etc) that probably doesn't surprise you. Here is the part you might not know....one thing I hate about being host? I feel like I never get enough one-on-one time with my guests. I'm too busy running around making sure everyone has what they need that I don't get to really enjoy the party.  But I won't stop hosting them, way too much fun. Plus it gives me an excuse (or a reason) to clean my house. So as much as I love hosting, I always feel bad after the party that I didn't get to hang out with you.

3. I'm a kid at heart. My kids are lucky because I enjoy watching kids movies, kids shows and I LOVE TOYS. Seriously. I would much rather have a Lego set for Christmas than some kitchen gadget or jewelry or even a new Kate Spade purse. It's actually really hard for me to hold back and not buy everything I see in the toy store. I'm looking forward to someday decorating their rooms and playroom.

4. I can't sleep after I watch any movie that wasn't happy. If it had too much drama or action or serious subjects...I'll be up all night thinking about it.  Scary movies are definitely out of the question. Bring on the Disney, Romantic Comedies and kid's shows thank you. I need the happy ending.

5. My favorite word in the English language is ....FACETIOUS.  When I was in high school the assistant principal poked his head in my art class and was joking around with my teacher. He made the comment that he was being facetious. I didn't know what that meant. So I looked it up. And then I found out that it contained all of the vowels. In alphabetical order. And now it's my favorite word.

What do you think? Did I mention something you didn't know?  Could I have done better?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dumped.

The other morning my favorite morning radio program (The TJ Show, 103.3 in Boston) was discussing getting dumped in middle school.  The reason they were talking about it was his niece (she is 12) had just been dumped after only THREE hours.

Yeesh.  At 12 I think I was still a little afraid to admit I liked boys.

Then they wanted callers to call in with their stories of being dumped in middle school (most of us have one or either that we weren't lucky enough to be dating yet.). I wanted to call in, but my story has two parts, and the second half isn't really MY story.
It's my sister's.

So I had to get her permission.  And then it was too late to call in...but not too late for a story for my blog!

Story Time!

Waaay long time ago, I was a sophomore in high school and I was good friends with a guy (boy? man-child?) that I had a serious big time crush on. I liked this guy so much...I didn't even admit it really to my friends.  I had met him in 8th grade and fell for him quickly.  He was a little chubby, outgoing and had mesmerizing eyes.  Fast forward a few years and he had lost that "baby weight" and was a very good looking guy.  And I was still majorly crushing.  We were very good friends and talked a lot on the phone (remember those days?) and one day he asked me to be his girlfriend.  I was over the moon about this.  That weekend he came to my house, held my hand...did all the stuff boys who like girls do (we had our first kiss, etc) and I was one smitten kitten.
Fast forward three days? Four days? I can tell you it was less than a week, and I was dumped. With no explanation and I was heart broken. To this day, I still don't know why he asked me to be his girlfriend, spent time with me...and then dumped me a few days later. It hurt, it hurt bad.  And as a teenage girl I went over and over in my head what I had done wrong.
It didn't occur to me until I was older that HE was the one with the issue, not me.

Fast forward again (Part two!).
My senior year of high school also happened to be my sister's freshman year of high school.  Early in the school year, a boy asked her to be his girlfriend.  And then he dumped her four days later.  I felt really bad for her, I knew how she felt, she had no explanation...how does someone do that to you?  She was being really mopey and singing sad songs...and I started to get angry.  How dare these boys lead us on..."win" us over and then dump us. Did they just enjoy the challenge?

There was a football game that week and I was a cheerleader.  It was the kind of event that a lot of people attended.  I was walking with my sister after the game and we walked by a group of boys who started laughing. I looked back and saw that boy who had dumped my sister.  I looked back at my sister and she was near tears. And then I got really really angry.

In order to accurately picture this next scene...you need a description of me back then. First off...I'm short. Five feet even. Five one on a good day. And back then I was thin, and had short brown/blonde hair. And I'm in a cheerleading uniform.
This kid was over six feet tall. And he was a scrawny freshman, but he also played football, and was wearing his freshman team jersey to support our team.

I walked over to the group of boys, went right up to him and pushed him up against a chain link fence. I got right in his face (standing on my tip toes!) and said to him: "You don't look at her. You don't talk to her. You don't talk about her. You don't even think about her. Or I will hurt you."

At least I think that's what I said.  And we walked away and drove home.
I do know that from that moment on, that kid was really scared of me.  Later on he and my sister became good friends (though they never dated again) and he would do everything he could to avoid me.  Eventually I did talk to him one day and I told him he wasn't so bad...just no one made my sister feel that way.

And now...looking back as an adult...I wonder...
How many boys breaking my heart did it take for me to become a commitment phobe in my early adult years? When did the tide change where I dated more casually than seriously?

But seriously...you don't hurt my sister.  She might be taller than me, but I'm still the big sister.
And I'll have to hurt you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

blah blah blah...thoughts for the day

I'm a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl.  I like to dress it up with some sassy boots, but really, I like to go casual.  So as you can imagine, unless it's for new jeans and I just lost 30 pounds, I don't enjoy clothes shopping.

BUT...I have two weddings coming up.  And in my current state (five months pregnant) none of my clothes fit. And I have no idea what size I am except bigger than I want to be.

So I went clothes shopping...and it sucked.  I was hot and sweaty and trying to wrestle myself into clothes that were a size I thought I would never wear.  It might have been better for me if I had gone and looked at maternity dresses, but my belly isn't big enough for those.  And have you seen maternity dresses?  YECH!

I'm pregnant. Not dead or without a sense of style.

I finally found two dresses that I think will work.  And at that I gave up. I hope that either one works because I really don't want to go back out there...

And to top it all off?  The place I like to get popcorn at?  They closed!!!
Popcorn, beer (can't have it) and cucumbers are my ONLY cravings!!!

I was a little bummed.

Okay, onto better happier things because now I sound whiny.
I'm using a rental car right now while my car is in the shop (no worries, no one hurt, I was not at fault, other people paying for it etc) and I'm driving a newer car.  With leather seats.  And Sirius Radio.

YEAH!  Bring on the 90's on the 9 channel!

I've mentioned in the past how much my daughter loves music and she hasn't heard most of this music before.  She will let you know what she likes and dislikes in the following way:

If she likes it, she will ask who it is or shout out who it is if she knows already.
If she has no opinion either way, she will stay silent and listen to it.
If she does not like it, she will ask you to change the song...and quickly.

So listening to the 90's today, she was mostly silent taking it all in I suppose.
Then a classic Mariah Carey song came on...and immediately she said "Mom, who's this?"
(yes! She has great taste)

And then a GooGoo Dolls song and immediately she asked me for a different song.
I never liked them either.  (sorry Marybeth!)

Needless to say, the 90's music and Zoe cheered me up.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!

I do love this holiday.  But I have to admit...it feels just off for me this year.
There's that whole exciting Red Sox winning the World Series thing that just happened.

And it's also because my town does trick-or-treating on the Sunday before Halloween. In the middle of the day.  From 1pm-4pm. Right in the middle of the Patriots game.
(didn't anyone check the schedule?!)



This past Sunday we passed out candy and took our daughter trick-or-treating.  And I loved it!  The nice thing about the daylight is that I could see my neighbors (most of whom I hadn't met yet!) and I didn't need to worry about my daughter falling into a ditch (yes we have these) or getting lost with a bunch of other kids.

Zoe loved getting candy.  She kept saying lets go get costumes (candy) and she would go up to someone and just say "thank you" (and using sign language which everyone thought was her blowing kisses) and then AFTER receiving the candy...she would then say trick-or-treat.

I had a hard time dragging her home for the last hour, but it was cold out and Mamma had had enough. (next year we will get the bigger neighborhood down the street)

Once we were at home, she loved passing out the candy almost as much as she liked collecting it. She had a blast and so did I.  (we actually ran out of candy!)

BUT...then it was over.  And I'm a take down the decorations as soon as the fun is done type of person. I like just cleaning it all up and putting it away.  I don't like it to linger.  But Halloween was still five days away.  So it's been sitting around.  And now tonight is Halloween.  And we have nothing planned and I just kinda feel....like a scrooge?  Is it too early for Christmas references?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hash Browns

I've had writer's block.

Or I've been in a blogger's funk.  I could say I've been very busy...but I haven't been so busy I couldn't put in a quick update.  I've thought about different things I could write about.

But maybe you don't want to hear about my daughter's potty training?

I could write about my trip to visit a friend...maybe I'll do that later.

BUT...today I had something happen that was making me laugh...so I had to share.

This morning Zoe and I were on our own for breakfast. I decided to treat her to some Dunkin Donuts. Okay, okay...I really wanted the Dunkin Donuts. I had already loaded her up with some apple cider and cereal at home, but I thought she might enjoy a munchkin.

Then while in line at the drive-thru, I got a better idea....hash browns! If you haven't tried the Dunkin Donuts hash browns yet, you should give them a try, they are very yummy.

As predicted, she loved the hash browns. But she had difficulty remembering what they were called.
She kept referring to them as brownies.

Fast forward...

It's the end of the day, I pick her up from daycare and she says:
"Mama..I want some brownies!"

And I laugh and say: "No, you mean hash browns."

Silence from the back of the car. Then I hear:

"Mama, I want some hash brownies."

I'm pretty sure the entire vehicle shook with my laughter.
Ummm.....oops?   :)

Friday, October 04, 2013

This is how I cook.

Something I have come to realize lately is that I don't know how to cook.
Well, I sort of do. I'm a master at grilled cheese and ground taco beef.

What I definitely don't know how to do is meal plan.  And then get groceries and cook healthy meals.

You see...my whole life I've either been depending upon someone else to feed me (Mom & Dad, then college cafeteria) or I've been dieting.  Or eating lots of junk food.

But I've never just planned out, this is what I'm eating.  And if I did, it didn't last for very long, or it was just for myself...not for a family of four.

Now that I am having a second child, I realized I can't just wing it every night for dinner anymore.  I need a plan.  And leftovers.  And packed lunches.  And a way to save money while doing this.

So in my head I have been putting together some ideas for meal planning.  The first idea I came up with was that I was going to have set meals for dinner on certain nights. For example Mondays would be Mexican food. (probably tacos).  Tuesdays would be soup and sandwich.  (maybe in the summer we could switch that soup to salad.)

Fridays might have to be pizza.

So I mentioned this plan to my hubby and the first question he came up with was this:

Hubby: "So how are you making the soup?"
Me: "I'm going to open the can, pour it in a pot and heat it up."
Hubby: "Ummm..."

And this is where I got upset.  I said that's why I didn't cook. 

I'm lucky, my hubby is an excellent cook and most of the time he does it from scratch.  Using ingredients from our garden (if we have one) or farmer's markets.  It intimidates me.  I feel like whatever I make won't be good enough. So I stopped trying.  (he used to work from home and was able to make our dinner every night, but now his job keeps him out until past when Zoe is hungry.)

I decided that in order to feed two kids, he was just going to have to deal with my methods.  Because I'm home with them at 5:30 when they are hungry.  And he doesn't get home until later.  SO that is just the way it goes. :)  After working all day, I need something quick and easy and nutritious.

Anyone have any good meal planning ideas?  Please don't suggest I do a whole lot of cooking on Sundays. Ain't nobody got time for that.  That's laundry, football and the only time we get to spend together as a family if we aren't already doing something else.  :)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

I quit. Maybe. Or We are Hiring!

Watching these videos just makes me want to make my own videos...

The first one you may have already heard about.  It's the one where the lady quits her job with a dance video.
http://mashable.com/2013/09/30/youtube-job-resignation/

What is great?  Her boss and company responded with their OWN dance party!
http://mashable.com/2013/10/01/viral-resignation-response/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

And the of course there is this great video of a mom with her own version.
LOVE IT.
http://screen.yahoo.com/storyful/housewife-decides-leave-her-job-210848865.html


Enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mini-Me

Since my daughter's birth I have heard that she looks a LOT like me.
Could be my twin even.  (though I think she is WAY cuter)

At times she resembles my sister too.
It's pretty obvious that she is mine.

However...her attitude, personality and facial expressions are more like my husbands.  And lately...I may get jealous....people are saying she is looking more like Anthony.

Then my mom sent me this.


Yeah...

No doubts there. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What should a 2.5 year old know?

This article has been floating around facebook pages and internet this week:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alicia-bayer-/what-should-a-4-year-old-know_b_3931921.html

If you don't feel like reading it, the basics behind it are what a 4 year old should know and how as a society we have become way too competitive and worried about the wrong things.

And I completely agree.  But I will admit that the first place my brain went was "How much does my 2.5 year old know compared to other 2.5 year olds?".

So I thought about it.  She knows a lot of things, but we can thank our wonderful daycare provider for most of that.  We didn't teach her numbers or colors or shapes or ABC's.  I'm sure we helped when it came to please and thank you's.  We do try to reinforce what she learns during the day.

So is she behind, ahead or right with other toddlers?  I have no idea.  Most of the time I don't worry about it.  But I decided she will be okay because she can do other things.

She can take off her shoes. And her socks.  And toss them into the back of my car.
She has a knack for doing that when I specifically need these items on her feet so we can go into a store.

She can clearly tell me when she DOESN'T want something.

She knows when Dada is making bacon for breakfast.

She can name all the top 40 pop artists on the radio....and sometimes the songs too!

And the other day I realized Dada was teaching her something as well. Because we walked in front of my car and she stopped, pointed at the emblem on the front and said:

"Look Mamma!  Honda!  Mamma's car is a Honda."

Yep.  We teach her the important things.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Now I can relax...

I have been incredibly busy lately.  But now all the craziness is done.

And I can relax.

What was I doing?

I was hosting and planning my sister's Bridal Shower/Bachelorette/Birthday party.  I had lots of help, but it was still a lot of effort to make sure my house was ready, clean and organizing everyone with their jobs.  The parties were a success..and my house is even still clean..but now I want to relax.

Why?  Because.....(drum roll!)....

I'm pregnant!

I'm almost into my second trimester and I'm exhausted!  It's been VERY hard to keep it a secret from everyone while doing all of that planning. But I was determined to give my sister a day that she would never forget.

This pregnancy so far has been VERY different from my first.
I hope to have many funny stories for you along the way.

...and now...to go squeeze in a nap with nobody (especially my 2.5 year old noticing...).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I have a winner!!!

I know, I know...where the heck have I been?

I'll update y'all soon, I promise.  I have been very busy and I'll post more reviews of my summer reading list as well.

So who won my Rogue Rafflecopter?
http://danidoit.blogspot.com/2013/08/rogue-by-gina-damico.html

Congrats to Joe Hawk!  I sent you an email to collect your address so you can receive your prize.
Didn't win? Still want to win stuff?

Follow the blog tour and enter Gina's contest!
http://ginadamico.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/happy-rogue-day/

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Very Busy!

I have a very busy week this week.

Being out for a few days means a lot to catch up on when you return. Laundry, bills, groceries, ...and oh yeah, work too.

In the meantime check out Friday and last Tuesday's posts!

This book is out and available TODAY:
http://danidoit.blogspot.com/2013/08/this-side-of-jealousy-by-lili-peloquin.html


and this post is part of a blog tour...you can win stuff:
http://danidoit.blogspot.com/2013/08/rogue-by-gina-damico.html


Friday, August 16, 2013

This Side of Jealousy by Lili Peloquin

I'm sneaking in another book on my reading list.  This one wasn't on the original list, but it was a free advanced copy offered to me by the publisher so that I could review it.  (LOVE THAT!!! Send more!)
This is book number TWO in a series...so if you don't want a spoiler...skip this and go read about the first one here:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13513071-the-innocents

Ready to hear about Book two?

Alice and Charlie haven’t stopped fighting since they arrived in Serenity Point two weeks ago. Those two weeks changed their lives. And Serenity Point has changed them.

Charlie has a new group of friends and a new life. Jude and Cybill are beautiful, exciting, and dangerously seductive. And though Sasha is proving to be a friend and confidante to Alice, Alice can’t get away from the people, places, and events that mire her in the past.

Alice loves Tommy, but the memory of Camilla, dead and gone, is driving a wedge between them. And Alice’s ex-boyfriend Patrick won’t give up on her, no matter what she says to keep him away. Jude is slowly giving up his bad boy ways for Charlie—but Cybill continues to come between them. And then Nick arrives: Dr. Van Stratten’s former intern seems to know things about last summer— things that Jude and Tommy would rather not be revealed. Alice is determined to find out what.

While the sisters grapple with the terrible truth about their family, the one-year memorial of Camilla’s death looms. The tension mounts and sparks fly as bright as July Fourth fireworks. Alice and Charlie are desperate to find out the truth that everyone seems to be hiding.

Is Camilla their enemy and rival—even six feet under? Or is she their sister, whose memory they have to protect? And what really happened to her that night on the bridge? In a town built on secrets and lies, can the truth stay buried for long?
I had actually already read the first book in this series and while I enjoyed it, I hadn't planned on picking up the next book.  But now that I have read the second one...I'm probably...okay, let's make that definitely going to pick up the third book. While I had trouble relating to the characters (they act a lot more like stupid college kids than high school kids) I am now sucked into the mysteries surrounding the drama in Serenity Point.  Now I have to know what happened!!

These books are the perfect last minute "beach" book for that last trip to the great outdoors before school begins. I highly recommend picking them up.

And now I have to know...did anyone you know in high school act like these crazy kids?!  I definitely wasn't cool enough...or maybe stupid enough.

Check out the facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/theinnocentsbooks

The second book in this series is out on Tuesday, August 20th! 

Want to learn more about the author?  I got to email back and forth with her, she's really cool and we unexpectedly found out we have a few things in common.  She has a bio/FAQ's on her website that does a WAY better job of interviewing than I could....so go learn more and pick up your copy today!
http://lilipeloquin.com/bio/

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SRL: Running out of time

Did you enter my contest yesterday? If not, go back and check out the post.

It really is the coolest thing in the world to write back and forth with some of your favorite authors. I feel really lucky I got picked to join the tour. :)

So what is going on with my Summer Reading List?  Well, mainly I am running out of time.



I borrowed most of the books on my list from the library and they are due to be returned when school starts back up. Which is in about two and half weeks.

So what should I do?  Should I skip the "second" books in the series I'm reading? 

Skip books I have already read?

Let me know your thoughts!  I'm running out of time!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rogue by Gina Damico


Hey everyone! I have something super cool today!  I'm very excited (you can tell by all of my exclamation points) to introduce you to the author of the series I just wrote about yesterday...Gina Damico!

As I wrote yesterday, I follow her blog, she's a very funny lady. And she put out a call to have some bloggers help her out with a blog tour for her third book in the Croak Series. So without much further ado...here she is. (Want to know more about the first two books?  See my post from yesterday, link is above.)

(be sure to follow her blog...and enter the contest at the bottom of the post!)

**********************************************************************************
Hey hey Croak fans! Welcome to my blog tour / photo hunt / Roguestravaganza! 

From now until ROGUE's release on September 10th, each stop on the tour will reveal an image that represents a chapter in the book - could refer to setting, plot, an important object, mood, or whatever other diabolical visualizations with which I feel like tormenting my dear readers. Each image also contains a hidden letter...though really, they're not that well hidden. (If you have eyes, you should be able to spot them.) Collect the letters every day, and at the end of the tour I'll hold a contest, the winner of which will receive signed and annotated copies of the complete trilogy. (For a complete description of the contest, tour schedule, and links to the stops you might have missed, check out the blog tour page on my website.)

So! This photo is for Chapter 1. I will let the image do the talking.

Thanks for having me! Good luck everyone!
-----------------------------

Plot Summary: 
Teenage Grim Reaper Lex’s power to Damn souls is getting out of control. She's a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they're joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.
The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed...but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.

Trailer:

Links: 
....and the GIVEAWAY!
The lovely and talented Gina Damico has offered me a prize pack to giveaway to my readers! What are we giving away?  Signed bookmarks, bookplates, magnets and a scythe pendant! 

It's very easy to enter, just use the Rafflecopter below:
(note: open internationally as well!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

SRL: Croak Series by Gina Damico

I was really looking forward to reading this series for my Summer Reading List project.  I made sure to sprinkle in the books I wanted to read in between the books that were suggested to me so that I would get a good mix. 
I'm not sure if I was coming down off my "I hate these books" reviews or what...but I had a hard time getting into them. One of the reasons I wanted to read them is because the author is VERY funny. (seriously, even if you don't read these books, you should at the least subscribe to her blog.)

So what is it about?
 Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.

But Uncle Mort's true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach Lex the family business.

She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can't stop her desire for justice - or is it vengeance? - whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.

Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?


I think the problem for me was that I just didn't connect with Lex and all of the anger that she had. I did like the created world and I must have been engaged enough to stick with it...because I didn't hesitate to pick up the second book. And it isn't very often that I can say I enjoyed a sequel even more than the original book...

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But after inadvertently transferring her ability to Zara, a murderous outlaw, Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home.

To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape would be to stop Zara once and for all—but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara’s killing spree.


But wait...this isn't just a sequel. It's a TRILOGY!

I noticed about half way through this book that I was all of a sudden up way past my bedtime...and I couldn't put this one down. I was starting to sneak in reading a page here and a page there to get it done. But not just to get it done...but to find out what happens.  There's a little bit of mystery in here and now I am attached to these characters. And I like Lex a bit more than I did in the first book.

And now?  I have to wait a WHOLE month for the last book in this trilogy.  I can wait...sure.
Good thing I have the rest of my summer reading to get through first!

Stay tuned...tomorrow I have a special treat for you...and a giveaway! :) 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

My daughter the music snob.

Okay, so she really isn't a snob...but her taste in music is interesting.

Her newest thing is calling out requests in the car, or saying who the artist or song is when it comes on the radio.  If she likes the artist, but she doesn't know who it is, she'll ask "Who dis?".

If she doesn't like the song she will ask "Different song!".  And if she hasn't made up her mind she is silent. Or she isn't paying attention. :)

Want to know what she likes?

Kimbra:

Robin Thicke:

Daft Punk:

Imagine Dragons:

Selena Gomez:

Justin Bieber?  nope.
Chris Brown? nope.
Beatles? nope (sorry Beatles fans!)

Elvis?  Yes!

Miley Cyrus?  nope. 
(can't blame her there, I don't like the latest song either though I am a Miley fan)

What else does she like?  Mostly dance/electronic music. She isn't a big country fan but she does like Patsy Cline:

And The Band Perry:

Does my daughter have interesting taste in music?  I think so!

The other day when I picked her up she was requesting Imagine Dragons. Looks like I might need to pick up their album. :)

Monday, August 05, 2013

Camping: What I Learned.

I have been camping most of my life.

When I was younger I went every year with my cousins to a gorgeous State Park. We LOVED it. In fact we loved it so much, as adults, we continue to visit this same campground.  Anthony would like me to try new campgrounds every year, but I'm a little attached to this one.

However this past weekend we did try a new campground. And we brought Zoe. And we brought Oscar.  This wasn't technically Zoe's first time (we stayed one night with my cousins last year in their RV) and Oscar has been camping a whole bunch, he loves it.

But we did learn a few things....

1. When the weather forecast calls for 30% chance of rain, your odds seem pretty good. But we were up in the mountains...so that was pretty much a guarantee of rain.

2. Leaving after 5pm on a Friday to travel north is just never a good idea.

3. It is possible to set up a tent in the dark. And in the rain. And even in the thunder and lightning.

4. Our tent stays mostly dry!

5. Because we had the rain fly on inside out (oops..see #3).

6. Toddlers do not go to bed at "bedtime" while camping.

7. And then they don't sleep in either.

8. And then they get grumpy and whiny.

9. And the bathroom is the most fascinating part of the campground.

10. Despite the rain and the lack of organization we had a blast. :)

We started an excel spreadsheet packing list for the next time we go camping. I'm hoping to turn this into a yearly tradition with a week long camping trip at my favorite campground in the future.  Soon it will be very easy to just pack up and go.

Because I have also learned that I am ready for a pop-up or small camper. ;)

Stay tuned this week...more Summer Reading book reviews coming!  And maybe I'll update on my weight loss, etc...(I'll give you a hint..there's been none of that.)

Friday, August 02, 2013

SRL: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.
Here is another one recommended by the librarian.  And another by Jodi Picoult.  And I think I figured out why I didn't like reading 19 Minutes.  I think I just don't like her writing style. This caught me off guard because I very rarely find a book that I don't enjoy reading. In fact, most books I read, I like to read again and again.  But I figured out the problem here (I think). I just don't enjoy this author.

But that was the whole point of the Summer Reading List project. Well, it was mostly to do a lot of reading and to do something for myself, but it was also to expand my boundaries and read things that I wouldn't normally read.

I do feel bad though because I really had to force myself to finish this one. I just wanted to skip it and move on. I found the characters painful to "listen" too and I found myself not caring if they figured out how to be together or not. Oh, and the fact that I found the whole thing absolutely ridiculous. I know this book is aimed at a teenage audience...but maybe sixth graders would enjoy it more.

Jodi Picoult wrote this book with her daughter, and maybe that contributed to the problems? Either way, she's way famous and doesn't need my reviews for her book. So beyond my review here on my blog, I probably won't leave feedback on Amazon or Goodreads. I think that I just don't like her writing style. Kind of like how I don't like butterscotch.  Just a personal preference. I'm trying really hard to not say...okay, I'll just say it.  I absolutely hated this book. Yuck. Won't read it again.

Did anyone read either of these books and enjoy them?

http://jodipicoult.com/between-the-lines.html

Thursday, August 01, 2013

SRL: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult


Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens—until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened before her very own eyes—or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show— destroying the closest of friendships and families.

This book got added to my Summer Reading List because of a recommendation from the librarian at the High School where I work. She told me it was powerful.

And I agree...it was powerful. But I had a hard time reading this book.  The jumping back and forth between the timelines were confusing and I didn't really "like" any of the characters in this book. Did it give me something to think about?  Yes.  Should teenagers read it to better understand each other? Probably.

In this book a student shoots fellow students and a teacher at his school. He is an outcast, but instead of embracing that (like Stargirl) he becomes withdrawn and plans revenge.

I really didn't enjoy this book but I had a hard time putting my finger on why I didn't like it.

Jodi Picoult is a famous writer who happens to live in my state (neat!) and the next book I will be writing about also took place in New England (cool!).  You can visit her website to learn more about her, you may already be familiar with her, because of books like "My Sister's Keeper"which was made into a movie.  Check out her website!  And tune in tomorrow for my review of the second book of hers that I read this summer.

http://jodipicoult.com/

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SRL: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

I had actually read this book before and I put it on my list because I remember just feeling good after reading it.

Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

The story takes place in a high school and it's about a girl who is an outcast.  All I can remember while reading this book was that I wished I had the courage to be as free-thinking as this girl was. Not just when I went to high school, but also just NOW.  She's herself...how often do we get to be ourselves? And I felt the same way reading it recently. It's a feel-good book. I loved that this story showed both sides of fitting in and not fitting in.

I think it was an accurate portrayal of what it feels like to be a teenager. 

I find myself wishing I could be more like Stargirl!

Tomorrow's book review will also be about an outcast...but he takes a decidedly different approach.

There's a sequel to Stargirl that I didn't enjoy as much as the original, but I do think you will love this character.  I also think this is an important book for middle-grade kids to read.

Find it on Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/Stargirl-Readers-Circle-Jerry-Spinelli/dp/0440416779

Read more about the author here:
http://www.jerryspinelli.com/newbery_002.htm

I didn't realize that Jerry Spinelli had so many published books. I think that over the course of the next year I may try to read some more of his work. Tune in tomorrow for more Summer Reading List updates!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Toys R Us "Clearance Blast"

Wow...last week flew by! And by the time it was Friday, I realized I didn't post all week!

I was on "vacation" (daycare was closed) and we had family visiting.  So I was waaaay too busy to get on here and write. So I apologize for that.  The good news?  Now I have LOTS of things to write about so you can expect new posts all week.  If I don't get too distracted that is...

I owe you guys lots of Summer Reading List updates and I wanted to tell you about my week last week.  But more importantly....I want to complain about something.

You see, right now Toys R Us in the middle of it's "Clearance Blast".  So my sister-in-law and I went. Needless to say, I was less than impressed. A clearance sale to me should be significantly marked down prices. When you are having a clearance sale, it's because you want to clear your shelves for new merchandise.
A $2 discount does not equal a clearance price, that's a sale price (and a crappy one at that).

Now I realize that when the sign says "Up to 70% off select items" that they can have just one silly item marked 70% off and then their advertising is truthful.  However, I expect clearance prices, not $2 off sale prices. And the real killer?  When they took ONE CENT off the price of an item and called it clearance. I'm not kidding.

Don't believe me?

Check this out:

So we take ONE CENT off the price, and now it's clearance?
A ZERO DOLLAR DISCOUNT IS NOT A CLEARANCE PRICE.

It was the end of the hours for the store and I didn't feel like complaining to some poor store manager who probably had no control over this, but I wouldn't mind hearing from Toys R Us Corporate headquarters about this.  Anyone know who can explain this to me?

I'm not looking for any good "deals" from TRU.  I know that I can get much better toy prices at Amazon, Walmart and Target (like the Imaginext Dragon at Target, I got it for $24, but at Toys R Us it was $40. At Target it was a clearance price with 30% off original price...you do the math, even at full price, that's still cheaper at Target).

However...when I see a sign that brags about clearance prices...I expect to see actual real clearance prices.  A one penny discount is just stupid.  I feel bad for the employee who had to post that sign. It's just embarrassing.  Any thoughts from my audience?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Lovin...

...Had me a blast!

Summer Lovin, happened so fast!

Why am I singing songs from Grease?  No idea.

Anyway, I hope to post this week, but we will see how it goes. I'm having company and my schedule is going to be off.

But to kick off the week...

Things I Learned This Weekend:

1. HGTV has not all prepared me for what my house is supposed to look like post-construction phase.

2. If I don't get on my hands and knees and scrub the floor Cinderella-style, I don't think it's clean.

3. Grocery shopping for visitors is so much better than shopping for myself.
a. I didn't worry about calories, fat or serving sizes.
b. I saw something, said that looks good, and I bought it.
c. I have a lot of food in my house!
d. It's all child-friendly food (the best kind!)

4. It takes a long time for me to clean something.

5. If I suggest going to Walmart for something....Hubby sends me to Homegoods instead. Sweet!

6. If you see something cool at Homegoods, grab it. It's a one of a kind.  When I went back to get something, another guy took it. (darn!)

Have a good week..I'll be back with more Summer Reading List updates!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

SRL: Tankborn by Karen Sandler

Ack! I totally forgot to post this yesterday! For that...I apologize. It was supposed to post yesterday.
I know I'm skipping a book on my list, but I really wanted to pair up my reviews of Stargirl and Nineteen Minutes together. You will learn more next week why.  Why not tomorrow? Because it's Friday and I'm starting my vacation early.  But here's a treat for you!

When I finished this book my first thought was "What? That's it?  There has to be more!!"

So being in the modern age that we are, I went searching the internet. And it's the first in a trilogy. And only the first two are out. OF COURSE!!! (now how do I get myself an advanced copy of the third book...hmmm)

My Summer Reading List has a lot on it right now...so I'll be waiting to do the second book.  But in the meantime, here is my review of Tankborn...and even more exciting...an interview with the author!

First: What's it about?
Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated when the time comes for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. High-status trueborns and working-class lowborns, born naturally of a mother, are free to choose their own lives. But GENs are gestated in a tank, sequestered in slums, and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds a host of secrets and surprises-not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night. With the help of an intriguing lowborn boy, Mishalla begins to suspect that something horrible is happening to them.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan with their new friends to save the children who are disappearing. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, one that may reveal secrets no one is ready to face.
My thoughts:
I got sucked into this story pretty quickly. It was easy to read and the characters were likable. I was a little uncomfortable with how quickly one romance happened, but I got over it pretty quickly. I probably forget how fast I "fell in love" when I was fifteen. The characters were likeable and I found myself really rooting for one of them (Mishalla).  My perspective on books has changed a lot since I became a mother and I could feel the torment that Mishalla went through when the children were being stolen in the night. One interesting thing about the world that the story takes place in, is the different races of the humans that inhabit this future world...and who is "better" than another. The story is told from different perspectives but instead of finding that annoying, I really enjoyed being in multiple characters "stories". I would highly recommend this book for middle school kids (or anyone really).

And...onto the interview with the author!


1. We know how you came up with your idea for Tankborn, but how did you flesh out the multi-racial (multi-caste) characters without falling into the trap of racism? (or was race and pre-conceived ideas a part of that development?)

With TANKBORN, I wanted to present issues of bigotry and racism in a science fictional world divorced from Earth’s history. In the created world of Loka, where the colonists were able to build any society they liked, they still fell into that same trap of bigotry and prejudice. Is it human nature to want to stratify and create the “other?” To some extent, it is, although we do often see people’s better nature come through, often see real people grow and change as they begin to see the “other” as just a different version of themselves.

In TANKBORN, I intentionally built that stratified society, both to explore the issues of racism and to create a dramatic premise. In the real world, we do want everyone to value each other and to get along. In a novel, we need conflict or the story will be very dull.

Something else I was trying to do (this being a young adult novel) was to present teenagers trapped in a world not of their making. Both Kayla, the GEN, and Devak, the trueborn, have to follow what society and their parents demand of them. Kayla, as a GEN, is more obviously restricted in her life, but Devak is too since there are so many expectations placed on him.

2. What kinds of characters are your favorite to write?

I like the underdogs. The characters who have a core of goodness, of dignity, but they’re often left in the shadows. I want those characters to be fighters too, to stand up for themselves. No wimps!

3. When you wrote Tankborn, did you know it was going to be a trilogy?

I did see it as a trilogy, but it wasn’t sold that way. I had to end the first book in a satisfactory way because we weren’t sure if there’d be a book 2 and 3. I had short synopses of the second and third books ready and eventually a contract for the subsequent books came through.

4. What is the one book coming out this year that you cannot wait to read?

I am hooked on Hugh Howey’s WOOL series. Wonderful world-building in this science fiction series. I recently finished the original WOOL books and am now in the middle of SHIFT, the prequel to WOOL. DUST, the follow-on to WOOL, comes out in August.

5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Generally, chocolate. Specifically, Denali Extreme Moose Tracks.


And a great big THANK YOU to Karen Sandler for taking the time to respond to my email and grant me an interview.  Stay tuned to my blog...sometime in the Fall or Winter I'll pick up the second book in this series.

When you get a chance, please go check out the website for the author:
https://www.facebook.com/Tankborn and http://karensandler.net/
And follow on twitter: https://twitter.com/karensandlerYA

Want to get Tankborn? It's available until TOMORROW for only $1.99 on Amazon for your Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1600606628/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1600606628&linkCode=as2&tag=angrysuper-20