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The Fire Horse Girl

August 11, 2014 Book Review 0

Why did I read The Fire Horse Girl?

The Fire Horse Girl is yet another book that I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read. Early last year I saw a few reviews for The Fire Horse Girl. It wasn’t everywhere, but sounded like it could potentially be a book that I would enjoy, so I requested it on Netgalley. 

It was so much better than I could have ever imagined! 

What is The Fire Horse Girl about in 100 words or less?

Jade Moon has big dreams that make it impossible for her to fit in.  She lives in a small village in China & hasn’t been anywhere else. Her life has been planned out for her by her elders and she feels trapped. Then Sterling Promise arrives with promises of a new life in America. It seems as if she can be anyone and the possibilities are suddenly endless.  She will do anything to get there. The Fire Horse Girl is a tale of survival and sheds some light on what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant in 1923. 

Characters

loved Jade Moon. She is incredibly strong-willed and wants only to find her place in this world.  I think a lot of people will find that despite coming from very different cultures they are able to relate to Jade Moon. There were also some secondary characters that were really well done, such as Neil, the Irish bodyguard. There were also some secondary characters that I just didn’t really like all that much. I’m mainly thinking of Harry and Sterling Promise. Both of them were characters that I just didn’t understand. It’s weird though because I thought I understood Harry up until he started freaking out. The way he behaved didn’t really make sense to me based on how he had behaved throughout the novel. As for Sterling Promise, I just didn’t really like him because he seemed so weak.

Romance

Sterling Promise and Jade Moon have quite the love/hate relationship. It is a relationship that is incredibly complex and it actually feels somewhat plausible to me.  I enjoyed seeing their relationship evolve and, in the end, found myself rooting for those crazy kids. 

Setting

The Firse Horse Girl takes us on quite the journey. We start in a small Chinese village, take a trip to Hong Kong, spend some time on a boat, spend more time than expected on Angel Island and finally find ourselves in San Francisco. I think that the setting was a very important element of the tale. In order to understand Jade Moon we had to understand what each of these places looked like to her and how they made her feel. The author does a fantastic job establishing the setting! I’ve never been to some of these places, but I could picture and sometimes could almost smell the various locations. 

Overall Opinion

The Fire Horse Girl was a book that I could not put down. I wasn’t sure whether or not I would like it and now it’s one of the best books I have read thus far in 2014! I would recommend this to anyone who had any interest in history, enjoys realistic fiction and has some time to kill. 

Don’t take my word for it. . .

Good Books & Good Wine – “If . . . you want a book that draws you in from the first chapter and won’t let you go until the last page, The Fire Horse Girl might as well be your next read.” 

Ivy Book Bindings – “Not only will it transport you into another time period, era, and culture, but it will gift you with incredible friends in its characters”

 

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Winger

July 31, 2014 Book Review 0

Why Did I Read Winger?

My very favorite book is A Separate Peace by John Knowles. If I had the time I would sit here and count the may reasons why I think I A Separate Peace is a must-read for anyone who enjoys reading even just a little bit. The reason I mention that fantastic novel is because that fantastic novel has a lot to do with why I picked up Winger in the first place. While reading the synopsis I couldn’t help but think about my favorite book. They share many similarities:

  • boarding school
  • male narrator
  • sports.

Okay, so that really isn’t very many after all but that is where my mind was as I went into my read of Winger. I was fully prepared to love it and place it on the shelf next to my well-loved copy of A Separate Peace

What is Winger about in 100 words or less?

In Ryan Dean’s own words, this is “the story of what happened to me and my friends during my eleventh-grade year at Pine Mountain.” I know it sounds like it has the potential to put you to sleep, or maybe that was just my junior year, but Ryan Dean is a fantastic storyteller with a great sense of humor. Should you find yourself about to doze,  there are also some very entertaining comics and illustrations along the way. Ultimately this is a story about friendships.

Characters

 The only character we ever really get to know is Ryan Dean and I found him to be an incredibly entertaining narrator and character. Since he is narrating it is hard to get a clear view of the characters who surround him. There are a handful who kind of blend but there are also some fairly memorable characters. It was a well-rounded cast overall.

The Romance

 Ryan Dean is your typical, horny, fourteen-year-old boy. All the girls are hot, even Isabel in her “faintly mustached kind of way.” You would think as a fourteen-year-old junior that he would be at a disadvantage when it comes to the love department. What junior girl is really that interested in a twerpy fourteen-year-old genius? Apparently at Pine Mountain there are quite of few girls who are interested in just that. Our Ryan Dean only really has eyes for Annie and I think some of the best moments happen when he overcomes his horny self and can be honest about his real feelings for Annie.  They actually have a very sweet relationship that adds a lot to the story.

Overall Opinion

 Obviously, I really loved Winger, but I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It seemed that unnecessary drama was added for sheer shock value, which I never appreciate. However, this was still a great book. It had so many elements that I adore and deserves a place on my shelf next to my beloved copy of A Separate Peace.

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“Get Your Game Face On”

July 14, 2014 Book Review 0

I am still so surprised by how much I have enjoyed The Sweet Trilogy. I was so close to not giving this series a chance and I’m so happy that I stumbled upon the read-along of Sweet Evil that helped to ignite my love of this trilogy. In general, I kind of hate to review a series, especially the last book in a series, because I’m so worried that I may give something away. Without giving too much away, I can happily say that fans of  The Sweet Trilogy should be very satisfied by this concluding novel. Sweet Reckoning provided exactly what I was looking in so many different areas. Some relationships that I was rooting for prosper until the final pages. New relationships are formed between characters I love. Sweet Reckoning is action-packed and suspenseful until the conclusion. I rarely stumble across books that I have a hard time putting down and I’m pleased to say that Sweet Reckoning was one such book. In fact I daresay that each book in the trilogy was nearly impossible for me to put down. There are some circumstances that were very sad that could have led to me not liking Sweet Reckoning, but what is great about Higgins’ writing is that she is really good about helping the reader to understand why things are happening the way that they are. All in all Sweet Reckoning was a great book and I think fans of The Sweet Trilogy won’t be disappointed. 

If you haven’t yet started any of the books in The Sweet Trilogy I would definitely recommend that you check them out! Despite the cheesy covers this is a trilogy that I would like to have grace my bookshelves sometime in the near future.

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Tale Told by September Girls Cover

July 10, 2014 Books - Other 0

I often find myself picking books to read just based off of the cover alone. It usually proves itself to be a terrible idea but this is just one of those habits I can’t seem to kick. September Girls is one of the many books I added to my TBR list based off of the cover. I actually really don’t know what this book is about but I thought it might be fun to see if I could take some guesses to get an idea of what the book might be about.

September Girls by Bennett Madison

Cover-Inspired Summary

Chuck is your normal teenage-male, 11 months of the year. His dating life during those 11 months is next to nonexistent and he has very little game. Inexplicably, every September his life resembles an Axe commercial. Maybe it’s because Summer is ending or maybe there is just something in the air. The girls seem to flock to him and his signature move is to take them skinny dipping. He very rarely remembers their names, but that’s okay because he is a gentleman the rest of the year. When referring to these girls he calls them the September Girls as they all seem to lump together. Then he meet Andi. There is something so different about Andi. Chuck finds himself drawn to Andi and he realizes that he wants this relationship to last beyond September. What will happen when September ends? Will Andi still find herself drawn to Sam? 

 

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My Blogging Confessions

July 8, 2014 Books - Other, Life, Top Ten Tuesday 0

TOP TEN

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/Top Ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. 

For some reason every, single time I think of the word confession Usher’s song “Confessions Part II” starts playing in my head. Without fail. I literally cannot think of anything else now so “I guess I gotta give part II of my confessions.”

Oh my goodness. Now I have another song with the word confession in my head. (Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby. . . One More Time.”) 

It’s going to be a long day.

  1. I study other blogs when I’m in a blogging slump. There are so many talented and creative bloggers out there! I’m not saying you should go out there and copy everything, but just taking a half an hour to study a blog you really admire can really inspire you to create some of your own features or can help you to twist a feature or an aspect that you really appreciate.
  2. I’m a collector of fonts. Chrome is such a cool browser, it seems like it has an add-on for just about everything. To help collect my fonts I use the WhatFont add-on.
  3. I’m also a collector of colors. Another super awesome Chrome add-on ColorZilla will tell you the color code for anything. It’s been incredibly helpful!
  4. I knew virtually nothing about HTML until fairly recently. I was actually already fairly decent at manipulating code to get it to do what I want via a ton of trial and error. However, my husband is very into computers and coding and he finally convinced me that maybe I should at least check out Code Academy so I could understand why everything worked the way that it does. 
  5. PicMonkey is my BFF. Ain’t nobody got the cash for Photoshop. Okay, obviously some people do, but I don’t. Creating via PicMonkey is all I can do.
  6. I judge books by their covers and I judge blogs by their design. I don’t have the best looking blog on the block, but it’s simple and clean. My blog is free of the frou-frou. Bottom line, I’m not a fan of cutesy things. If your blog looks cutesy and juvenile then I probably won’t stick around. 
  7. I confess that I hate proofreading. Sometimes I just don’t and I almost always regret that.
  8. I didn’t understand the difference between Categories and Tabs. In my defense I’ve only been on WordPress for. . .7 months. Oy vey. I’m working on it.
  9. I’m really bad at commenting even on my own blog. Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.
  10. I record vlogs a lot, but I hardly ever post them. Some jerkasaurous left a comment on one of my vlogs saying that my videos suck. I actually agree, but sometimes I just prefer to talk instead of type. #firstworldproblems

 

What are your blogging confessions?

 

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Who is That Boy on the Porch?

July 7, 2014 Book Review 0

The name Sharon Creech automatically fills me with warm fuzzies. While growing up I read and re-read her novel Bloomability and later discovered a love for Walk Two Moons while enrolled in a Children’s Literature course during my undergrad days. When I read the description for The Boy on the Porch I found myself thinking of the cute, yet odd film The Odd Life of Timothy Green and hoped that this book would also fill me with some warm fuzzies. I’m sorry to say that while there may have been a slight warm fuzzy discovered at the end, overall, The Boy on the Porch just didn’t do much for me.

Perhaps the novel is simply too short to fully develop and explore the characters involved or maybe doing so would be too much for a children’s book. Without that thorough character development the tale never quite reaches the depth that it really should for the topic involved. I do like the uniqueness that The Boy on the Porch has in that it ultimately deals with becoming a foster parent and the reasons one may have to become a foster parent. I haven’t really encountered a lot of books that tackle that topic so it was refreshing to read something along those lines.

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Don’t Forget You

July 4, 2014 Beyond the Small Talk, Books - Other, Conversations, Life 0

As I reached the end of The Time of My Life I found myself reflecting on my own life, the choices I had made, the people I had met so on and so forth. I also started thinking about the choices I am making now, on a daily basis. I’m a fairly busy person and I’m sure that life will just become busier and busier, however, I should be making time for myself. I should be consistently checking in with myself and making sure that I balance everything the best that I can. How useful is a frazzled, stress-out, unhappy person anyway?

If I met my Life in person the way Lucy does what would he/she look like? Honestly, I have some pretty bad habits and there are some areas of my life that are really lacking. I worry that my Life would be kind of a greasy, overweight, frazzled, uncertain mess and I want to take the steps now to fix that. There are a lot of things that I want to fix, but I’m going to start with my health and fitness.  For months I have been making the excuse that I can’t really make a huge change right now because it would be too hard with the little one, but then I realized that I am exhausted and overwhelmed and I bet my current habits and imbalances have a lot to do with that, so I cut back on work, I started Blogilates, and I’ve been working on taking things one day at a time. 

My plan for my health and fitness is to continue on my Blogilates journey. I finally made my way through the entire beginner’s calendar and I can see that I’m getting stronger. It’s so awesome to see these muscles in my legs that I had never really noticed before! I’m not really getting to the place I want to get though, and I won’t until my diet improves. It’s so important to me to start setting a good example for my daughter. I want her to be healthy and have good habits but if I continue to drink so much soda and binge on YOLO food then that is much less likely to happen.  A couple of months ago I saved up the meal plan and the New Body Makeover calendars. When I read this post I realized that I had no more room for my excuses. Starting on Sunday I am going to make this part of my life. 

 

“As long as you’re around, your life is too. So just as you shower love and affection and attention on the husbands, wives, parents, children and forever friends who surround you, you have to do so equally with your life, because it’s yours, it’s you, and it’s always there rooting for you, cheering you on, even when you feel like you can’t do it.”

- Cecelia Ahern

 

What are you going to do to make sure that you don’t forget you?

 

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Date Inspired by: The Time of My Life

July 3, 2014 Books - Other, Date Inspired by 0

Date Inspired by: The Time of My Life

 

My Review | Goodreads | Amazon

I have a 9-month old so legit date nights are kind of a thing of the past. . . for now.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally think about or plan awesome, make-believe dates. While reading The Time of My Life I found myself struck with inspiration for what I think would be a pretty awesome date even with a 9-month old! 

Setup

Lucy met Don by calling the wrong number and they got to know each other via text, mainly in the form of pictures. I always think that dates are way more fun when some anticipation and build-up occurs prior to the date itself. Throughout the day of the planned date send your date some picture clues as to what the date will entail. For example at some point during this date you will be playing 2 truths and a lie so you could send a picture of Pinocchio. Like this one:

Pinocchio

Practicing Parents.com

Food

 

In my opinion Food is an essential part of any date. Lucy and her friends often frequented a French restaurant where their waiter pretended he was French as he really needed the job and fluent French was required in order to get it. French restaurants tend to be on the expensive side and also tend to have menus that I cannot read. French Bakeries though have delicious desserts and chances are that you will find something that you really like. If you live somewhere close to a French Bakery, apparently Salt Lake has a decent amount, then the date will start with some sort of French dessert. If you don’t have a bakery nearby then why not try your hand at making a French dessert?

Here are a few links to some French desserts:

game

Lucy was a compulsive liar, so tonight you too will practice your lying abilities by playing Two Truths and a Lie. If you know your date really well then this game might be really easy. This game might also be easy if you are just an incredibly bad liar. 

Rules: It’s exactly what it sounds like. You take turns telling two truths and one lie about yourself. The other person has to guess what the lie is. You could make it even more interesting by instituting consequences for the loser of each round.

Do you have any ideas for a low-key book inspired date?

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Impulse Watch: Girl Most Likely

July 2, 2014 Impulse Watch, Movies 0

Girl Most LikelyTitle: Girl Most Likely
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Where? Netflix

What is Girl Most Likely About? 

Imogene moved to New York to pursue a career as a playwright but that hasn’t quite worked out the way she had hoped. She did find herself a Dutch boyfriend and has a current “in” with the socialites. When her Dutch boyfriend breaks up with her she loses it and stages a suicide attempt in the hopes that the Dutch boyfriend will realize his mistake. She also quickly discovers who her friends are and finds herself back home in Ocean City, New Jersey. Her family is dysfunctional to say the least but somehow she finds a way to accept and love them while she is trying to get her New York life back. Along the way she learns a lot about herself as she has to finally a bunch of truths. 

Why I watched this and why you should too:

  • Kristen Wiig. Despite this being a more serious role for Wiig, she is as funny as ever and part of me wants to be her when I grow up.
  • Matt Dillon.  Every single time I watch him in a movie I can’t help but think of his role in There’s Something About Mary. His character in Girl Most Likely is so incredibly absurd and hilarious.
  • Dysfunctional Families = entertainment. This family is all kinds of dysfunctional. Mom used to be a go-go dancer and is addicted to gambling/love. Brother spends most of his time with crustaceans. Wiig is super delusional and at times reminds me of Lucy in The Time of My Life.
  • Dysfunctional families are often made up of quirky characters. Each character in Girl Most Likely has some absurd quirk that you are bound to appreciate and enjoy.
  • So many familiar faces, including the super-cute face Darren Criss from Glee.
  • You will actually laugh. 
  • Girl Most Likely is funny but also leaves you with some warm fuzzies. 

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