Friday, October 31, 2014

hi, i'm olaf and i like warm hugs.

Happy Halloween from Elsa & Olaf!

My baby brother and I are Elsa & Olaf this evening and it's been a real treat so far! While on the topic of our lookalikes, I just wanted to let everyone know that Little Golden Book's came out with a variation of Frozen last year. What a great addition to the collection.  I love Little Golden Books!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

learn how to use your DSLR.

I love photography. It is definitely my true calling. One I have been ignoring for years and years because I just can't stand that everyone with a camera is becoming a photographer these days. I'll just keep taking photos of my best friend's baby and my all of my brother's weddings (he's had 2 so far, I have photographed both - I wish I was kidding) and call it a day.

I recently received the ahhhmazing Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual and Make Creative Photos by Susan Tuttle and she basically just taught me how to use all of my Rebel "scene modes" which I have never really figured out even though I've had the camera for over a year. Thanks girl, that was a big help. Moving on to lenses. My Rebel can use multiple lenses, but I still use the one it came with because I am cheap and extremely ordinary. Well Tuttle has really opened my eyes in this book by sharing her own personal photos while also including the lens she used, along with the focal length, ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings. With the right DSLR camera, you can shoot photos just as fabulous as hers, and it's so easy! Like, I never realized how easy until I read this book. Tuttle even shares her favorite apps so you can create amazing photographs on your smart phone. This lady is speaking all of my languages.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

for the parent, teacher, poet, and reader.

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole by Irene Latham is EXACTLY the kind of children's book I want my future little ones to read. It is SO good, unlike any other collection of children's poems I have ever read kind of good. The poems are rather deep for a K-4 picture book revolving around animals in the wild, and are written in both free verse and rhyme. The giraffes for instance have a poem describing thirst with such imagery, I felt my own tongue swelling and in need for a drink of water. What a wonderful way to teach children about imagery and to expand their vocabulary. The zebras and rhinos have their share of whimsical poetry as well. This is an elementary teacher's DREAM book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

gone girl though...

OMG Gone Girl. I only just read it (snatched up a mass paperback from Target for 8 bucks, worth every penny). Sometimes it takes a bestseller becoming a movie to finally get me to sit down and read it. What a fricken ride, which I can't really tell you about because it will totally give everything away and ruin your lives. But WHOA. Okay, okay, let me digress...

Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott were two New York City writers who met, fell in love, and did what most of us do when we first get into a relationship, don't act anything like our real selves. Oh you know you've done it. You live to impress in a new relationship. You become "cool boy" or "cool girl" - whoever that person wants you to be, you are. Well after a couple years of marriage their true colors started to show and their marriage hit some bumps. They lost their jobs, got a little broke, moved to Nick's hometown in Missouri to take care of his ailing parents, stopped loving each other, etc. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary (on July FIFTH, ahem that's MY wedding anniversary, creepy) Amy disappears leaving signs of struggle that seem to be a little staged and a husband who has a dirty secret making him look super guilty. And I am SO sorry but I can't say anything else. It will be too spoily and I assure you, will ruin your life. But you have got to read the novel because it is unreal.

Monday, October 27, 2014

the story that never ends.

I had a FABULOUS week at the beach with my mom. We spent the week doing whatever we wanted, me on the beach or at the pool reading for hours in the sun, her on the hotel room balcony working. It was like going on vacation by myself only I had someone to eat breakfast and dinner with. What a dream.

The first book I read was Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth which, as an avid Dollanganger Series reader, I was super excited about. I know V.C. Andrews has been dead for some time, but I still love whoever the fake V.C. Andrews is. Here's a background on this perspective of what happened to the flowers in the attic. It's set in modern day, our main character is a teenage distant relative of the Foxworth's named Kristin Masterwood, who lives with her widowed father in Virginia, close to the old Foxworth mansion which has now been abandoned. Her father is a contractor and has been asked to demolish the rest of the mansion (which burned down for a second time), so that someone can hopefully buy up the land and rebuild. On the site, Kristin discovers Christopher's diary, his account of the years their father was alive and the time him and his siblings spent in the attic. Kristin's father doesn't really want her to read the diary because of all the horrible rumors that revolve around this story, he's super touchy about the subject because of his late wife (who was the one related to the Foxworth's) but since Kristin is close to seventeen, he doesn't forbid it and off she goes. Kristin gets so absorbed in Christopher's story (which we get to see lots of entries of along the way) that it starts to affect her real life. She rushes through homework to get back to reading, she avoids friends to get back to reading. She becomes a little obsessed with Christopher and his family. The book ends after only two months in attic, and hopefully the next book picks up right where this one left off because I'm intrigued, and fake V.C Andrews only just started getting to the good stuff.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

a chilly day, a chilly novel.

Today's our last day at the beach and it's a little chilly (just like the novel I am starting, Gone Girl, brrr). Don't worry, I'm making the best of it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

summer and sun and all things hot.

I am in Myrtle Beach this week with my mama for our annual mother/daughter girls trip. We haven't been to the beach in about a year and a half, and it was long, long overdue! Since it still feels like summer from where I'm sitting, I am going to review one of the sweetest novels of the summer titled Butternut Summer by Mary McNear.

Butternut Summer is the second installment in McNear's series (the first being Up at Butternut Lake  which you don't necessarily have to read to enjoy this novel). Caroline's ex-husband Jack who unceremoniously left her and her daughter, Daisy is back in Butternut Lake, hoping to rekindle the flame, claiming he is a changed man. Caroline has her doubts but she is a little caught up with financial issues and Daisy running around with a mechanic who has a seedy history (and in my opinion the best people do) to really give Jack and his changed man speech much thought.

Despite Caroline's attitude and inability to believe that people can change, It is so, so sweet watching Daisy and Will fall in love. Even watching Caroline and Jack figure out where they stand warms the heart. It's all rather predictable, but that's what I'm looking for in a breezy summer romance novel.

Monday, October 20, 2014

some voodoo to better you.

It's difficult for me to explain the idea of sound therapy even after reading Eileen Day McKusick's Tuning the Human Biofield: Healing with Vibrational Sound Therapy because the whole idea of bettering a person by sound is new to me, and a little wild because I have never had it done. So I'm going to leave the educational portion of this review to McKusick herself as she explains the complete practice of Sound Balancing, with pictures and everything right in her (very first) book.

This is right up my hubby's wheelhouse as he's a chiropractor and does all this voodoo with pressure points, massage, and energy yadda yadda. But basically what I got out of this book is that certain sounds disturb us. They disturb our healing, give us anxiety, and negatively affect our well being. Now this is an idea I can get behind. It makes sense, the balance of sound frequencies in different people and all that. No one's the same. McKusick has found a way to remove the "pain and trauma stored in the biofield" with the use of tuning forks. Yeah it sounds a little wacky but she's got the research to back it up and a private practice set up in Vermont where she's making the big bucks. If this is the type of therapy you may be interested, or you're a chiropractor or massage therapist, I absolutely recommend this resource.

Friday, October 17, 2014

kick ass giveaway.

Win a FREE copy of Acid Test!
Contest Rules:
1. Follow this blog :)
2. E-mail your name and this book title to: to enter!
3. Contest ends 10/27!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

this will warm even cruella deville's heart.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. I am not exactly a dog person. Honestly, I think people's dogs smell and they jump on you and sniff your crotch when you're in your workout clothes. It's rude. But I also think that other people's children are smelly and annoying, and I'm still planning on having some of my own. So there's that logic that probably if I had a dog, I'd love it. For now though, I'll just stick to my cats Atticus and Bruce Smith.

Anyways, the point is that even though I am not a super head over heels dog lover, I absolutely loved Linda Gray Sexton's latest memoir about the spotted dogs in her life titled Bespotted: My Family's Love Affair with Thirty-Eight Dalmatians. This book is dedicated to all of the Dalmatian dogs her family has owned, bred, and loved, with their stories compiled into a beautifully written narrative that you won't want to end. Sexton reminds readers how dogs save us, and tells all about how hers saved her from depression. She gets really honest in her writing, even including how to move on after the loss of a beloved pet. Bespotted is sure to warm even the coldest of hearts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

psychedelic therapy.

As a whole, I've tried to stay away from hard drugs, even during my more experimental years. My college boyfriend once called me on a really crazy trip, and it kind of spooked me. It was like talking to a stranger, but one you liked better. Tom Shroder wrote a book all about how trippy (or psychedelic depending on your generation) drugs can actually help treat certain disorders titled Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal. My immediate opinion? I haven't encountered a book as insightful as this one in a long while. What a trip.

Shroder gives a pretty impressive history on LSD and Ecstasy - Albert Hoffman, the experimental years, the abuse, the backlash, the therapeutic powers, and especially MDMA's (aka Ecstasy's) role in treating PTSD, as well as anxiety and depression, which are all serious issues in our country. Shroder shows the role that psychedelic therapy can play in saving lives in a beautifully written narrative, weaving the lives of three men, that just might turn you into a believer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

an eye-opener.

Generation Xer's hear time and time again how we are a generation all about instant gratification. We skip the starter houses and buy houses our parents couldn't afford until much later in life. We buy the fancy washing machine that matches the fancy dryer even though we have a perfectly good set of white ones in the basement. We charge, charge, charge because we want it now, now, now. It's a problem, and although our elder's may blame us, it's really American's problem. Just ask journalist Paul Roberts, he'll tell you all about it in his latest socioeconomic book titled The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification.

Compiled of three parts and nine chapters, The Impulse Society touches on our society and its focus on instant gratification and narrow self-interest which hinders our leader's ability to think about our future as a whole, keeping the long run in mind. Leaders are giving us what we want, not what we need. Roberts talks about how patience, discipline, and self-sacrifice are no longer being practiced, and have become unnecessary. And what has taken the place of these values? Close-minded pleasure that has consequences we are simply delaying. What changes can we make now? For starters you can spend less time on your smart phones and more time with your family. You can buy local rather than from the man. You can live out your values to the best of your ability and hope that it spreads farther and faster than greed and impulse.

Monday, October 13, 2014

the truth behind dysfunctional behavior.

I pride myself on being a pretty independent person. I enjoy spending an abnormal amount of time alone with my thoughts, reading, shopping, etc.. I never spend a ton of time worrying about what people think of me, however, I did deal with that more than usual during wedding planning, but am almost back to my normal self. My point is, even the most confident people (like I always thought I was) have their moments when they feel paranoia, shame, dependent on others for validation. Making Darlene Lancer's Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You all the more universal.

Lancer labels herself a "textbook example of codependency" right in her intro. She touches on past relationships and how she always settled for less than she deserved, less than she needed, because she was so unaware of her self worth. Shame is a huge premise in this book. Hiding what society may view as shameful from others. Shame about your family, shame of a failed relationship (or a toxic one), shame of an addiction. So many people wait to hit rock bottom, shocking those they have been hiding from before they can get the help that they need, that is, if there's still time. Lancer has 8 steps. 8 steps that will help you find yourself. And at this point, it's worth a try, right?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bible stories in rhyme.

I grew up in a Christian household. I know some of you may find that hard to believe what with my snarkiness and tendency to drop a a,f,s-bomb. But nonetheless, I know Jesus and He loves me, flaws and all. My mother was always telling us Bible stories growing up. I know every one by heart and am looking forward to sharing them with my future children. Kelly Pulley is helping with her book titled The Magnificent Tales Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times which features twenty well-known Bible story poems illustrated (beautifully) by her. The gang's all here from Eve to Joseph and Mordecai to Daniel. It's such a fun and easy way to share your favorite Bible stories with your little ones. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

middle grade crowd pleaser.

The Unwanteds series is a group of fantasy books written for ages 8-15 by Lisa McMann that quickly rocketed to the New York Times bestselling list, and for good reason. Book four (out of the planned seven) titled Island of Legends is a fantastic contribution to the series that your middle grade kiddos won't want to miss.

At the beginning of the series we meet Alex Stowe. Every year in Quill (where he lives) there is a Purge where all of the thirteen-year-olds are sorted into three categories: the strong and intelligent ones are Wanteds and go to the university. Others are sent into the Necessities (where they end up working for the Wanteds), and the final group, typically the creative and artistic kids or Unwanteds are sent to their graves. Alex is sent to his death while is brother, Aaron is sent to the university. But instead of dying, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds end up in a magical place where they learn secrets of their world.

A lot has happened since then, and in the fourth installment Alex's magical skills are improving and he is growing more confident by the day in Artime. Aaron's leadership is threatened back in Quill, and more creatures are discovered that can both help and harm these two different teams.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of Lay it on my Heart!
Contest Rules:
1. Follow this blog :)
2. E-mail your name and this book title to: to enter!
3. Contest ends 10/13!

Monday, October 6, 2014

jennifer weiner's debut novel.

I decided to go back in time this week. All the way back to 1999 and Jennifer Weiner's first novel Good in Bed (Cannie Shapiro Book 1) where Weiner herself wrote an updated introduction in 2011 giving background about where her first novel came from and how she got where she is today (well, in 2011). I am a huge Weiner fan presently, but you never know how a debut novel is going to turn out. My honest opinion? Love. I had some doubts along the way about where this story and Cannie were going, but as a whole, it's a love.

Cannie (Candace) Shapiro is a twenty-eight year old size sixteen (truly funny) writer recovering from a breakup that was on her terms. She asked her boyfriend of three years, Bruce for a break for good reason, which turned into a break up for good reason, and sent her into a deep dark depression wondering if she made the right decision and if anyone was going to ever love her again. Bruce, who is also a writer, got a gig at Moxie (a Cosmo type magazine) writing a series of articles on relationships from a man's perspective, Cannie or "C" as he likes to call her, being his muse. Which wouldn't be as embarrassing if his first article wasn't based on him loving a larger woman and how difficult it is doing so in our society in addition to C's insecurities. The novel continues on while Cannie goes through some life changing events that I'm not going to get into as it will ruin the story.

After the introduction I read by Weiner, I am wondering how much of this novel is based on her real life. If so, being a plus-size twenty-something woman sounds pretty amazing.

Friday, October 3, 2014

kick ass giveaway!

 Win a FREE copy of Calculus for Dummies!
1. Follow this blog :)
2. E-mail your name and this book title to: to enter!
3. Contest ends 10/6!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

well this is new.

Scott Westerfeld's novel Afterworlds includes a writing style that I have never seen before. Part one of the book introduces readers to eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel who moves to New York City after getting a contract to publish her novel, coincidentally titled, Afterworlds. We follow Darcy on her move to the big apple with no place to live, no real plans other than getting her novel publishing and being fabulous. It begins to get interesting when Westerfeld takes us into Darcy's novel introducing readers to her protagonist, Lizzie who survives a vicious terrorist attack, and finds herself stuck in a world between our world and death, giving her the ability to see ghosts and solve a murder mystery. Westerfeld takes us back and forth, alternating between the two stories, Darcy editing her novel and Lizzie living it. Darcy meeting a boy, Lizzie meeting a boy. I do think that Darcy had the more interesting storyline, but that's just a personal preference to real-life fiction over unrealistic fiction. All in all, I was super impressed with Westerfeld and his style.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

you can never have too many practice problems.

I never took Calculus, I have more of a reading mind than a numbers mind, but when kids in my study hall started busting out their Calculus homework and their big pathetic puppy dog eyes asking for help (ALREADY), I knew I had to figure something out. And WAHLA! Calculus FOR DUMMIES. I love any For Dummies book, I read and review them all the time because they are cheap ways to learn things (or get better at things) without having to admit that you need help to a real live person.

Calculus: 1,001 Practice Problems For Dummies (+ Free Online Practice) (For Dummies (Math & Science)) by Patrick Jones has (a shocking) 1,001 problems for you to practice along with all of the answers (with full detailed explanations) in the back of the book. This book is not going to teach you Calculus, that is what your teacher is for. It is simply going to help you understand the problems better, practice, and hopefully get the hang of it more so than you're doing now in class. Because face it, you're lost. PatrickJMT also has a YouTube channel, the guy's a savant I tell ya, just in case you need even more help than a thousand practice problems can give you. I absolutely recommend this book to those of you who are just starting Calculus, Pre-Calculus or are taking a class that requires you to brush up on your math skills.