Five on Friday

  1. I finally got around to putting batteries in the Rock ‘n Play, and have discovered that if Baby E is freaking out, she will almost instantly calm down if I turn the vibration on. She’s sleeping peacefully in it now as I type this (although for how long, no one knows). It’s still not the miracle product everyone makes it out to be, but she will catnap in it and will sometimes even just calmly sit in it while I get things done around the house (i.e., pee, scarf down a sandwich, etc.).
  2. I’m thinking of starting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my next read, as soon as I can find some time. Right now any spare time I have is usually spent sleeping, and by “sleeping” I generally mean closing my eyes and praying that the baby doesn’t wake up. And then the baby wakes up. I swear there is an alarm in her head that goes off anytime hubby or I are about to relax.
  3. Usually I would have started decorating for Fall already, but I haven’t been able to this year. I was going to skip the Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations and just save up all my energy for Christmas decorating, but now I’m having second thoughts. Hubby stopped at Target the other day to pick up Baby E’s Halloween outfit and he surprised me with these really cute kitty Halloween towels. I think I’ll take some time this weekend and pull some stuff down from the attic. I’m not going to go all out, but I really do need SOME stuff around the house to make it feel festive.
  4. I had my first pumpkin muffin of the season last night and it was glorious! Again, if I can find the time, I think I’ll make a quick batch of my own to have on hand.
  5. Every day I tell myself that we are going to get outside and go for a walk, and every single day I fail. Either she is too fussy, it’s too hot/sunny, or the day just gets away from me. I really need to start getting outside, though, while I still can. Before I know it, it’s going to be winter and we’re going to be trapped in the house day after day. Not only does she need the fresh air and stimulation, but I could use the exercise. I only gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy, and 20 of those came off instantly after birth, but I’ve still got 10 extra pounds of flab hanging around that I’d like to get rid of. My diet right now consists of anything I can eat one-handed and/or quickly during the day, and whatever is fastest at night for dinner (this usually means pizza or some kind of takeout now that my mother-in-law is away and not cooking for us anymore).

What I’m Reading

Honestly, I finally finished reading Prep the other night while hubby had the baby. I was able to lie on the couch with a snuggly blanket and read just like I used to. It was fabulous. However, I don’t have the time or energy to form the correct words to write a proper review. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. Also, it took me being more than halfway through it before I realized the author is a woman. I was so impressed with how well Curtis was able to write from a teenaged girl’s perspective. Haha.

These days, I’m doing a lot of much lighter reading…

Baby E’s Godmother got her this book for her Baptism a couple of weeks ago. We read it together for the first time the other day and I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it as much as I did. I managed to get a couple smiles out of her when I showed her the pictures of the bears.

The baby bear asks mama where he came from, so mama explains how they asked God for a baby and they got him. She tells him how her stomach got bigger, how they went to doctor’s appointments, and how they prepared the nursery. Obviously Baby E has no idea what any of this means, but I think this will be a good book for when she’s a little older and starts asking the same questions as baby bear.

I liked it so much that I immediately went on Amazon and ordered every other “God Gave Us…” book by these authors.

Go, Dog, Go was one of my favorites when I was little. I especially liked the big dog party in the tree at the end. However, I didn’t realize how ridiculous the story is until I’ve started reading it to Baby E recently. There is one particular subplot of two dogs that keep running into each other. The female dog asks the male dog if he likes her hat. He is extremely rude and keeps telling her that he does not like her hat and then he leaves. I still love it – all of the dogs are adorable and I enjoy the drawings – but it’s definitely a weird one.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? was a gift. I had never heard of it before, but we’ve read it several times and it’s cute enough. I’m guessing it teaches sounds? I kind of feel like an idiot when I’m reading it to her because of all the weird noises, so this is one that we read when we are home alone during the day.

Five on Friday

I attempted to write a blog post last week, but Baby E just wasn’t having it. I am currently sitting in the dark in her nursery listening to her Sleep Sheep play water sounds while she fights sleep in her crib. She is just over six weeks now and thinks it’s her job to not nap during the day anymore. It’s like she’s afraid she will miss out on something awesome.

Anyway.

  1. I realize I haven’t posted anything book-related in quite some time. I am actually currently reading Prep, and by “currently reading” I mean that I haven’t touched it since just before she was born. In fact, that is the book I was reading the night I went into labor. That was almost 7 weeks ago. Oops. I bring it down to the living room every morning with the intention of finishing it as soon as the baby falls asleep, but then I realize I would rather be napping.
  2. Baby E has been congested since birth, and the doctor keeps saying that we need to get the boogers out of her nose. Problem is, the nasal aspirators don’t work all that well. I read really good things about the NoseFrida online, but the idea of sucking her snot out with my own mouth kind of grossed me out. I asked a friend about it and she said it is the greatest thing ever. She ended up buying me one so I had no excuse not to try it. Oh my goodness. It is a lifesaver! I will be buying one of these for every expectant mom that I know. It’s so much less gross once you actually try it, and it gets EVERYTHING out with a little saline spray beforehand. Baby can breathe much easier now.
  3. I tried hard during my pregnancy not to made any bold “I’ll never…” statements. One thing I was very iffy about was baby wearing. I thought it was for hippies. I’ve never seen anyone wear their baby around here and I didn’t know if any of my friends did it. I registered for a basic wrap (K’tan) anyway and my coworkers ended up buying it for me. I finally tried it one day when I really needed to get off the couch but Baby E couldn’t stand not to be touching me. She screamed for a couple of minutes at first and then promptly fell asleep. FOR HOURS. The K’tan is good because there is no wrapping involved – just put it over your head and go. But, the downside to that is that you can’t adjust it to fit either more snugly or more loosely. Also, it’s REALLY hot. I keep the baby in a onesie and I wear a tank top and we still both sweat like crazy. A friend let me borrow her Boba wrap and I like it a LOT better. Yes, you have to tie it, but it’s so easy. I can do it by myself without any problems. It’s also a little more breathable so we don’t get as swampy when we use it.
  4. Apparently my company is having a BBQ tomorrow for everyone and I wasn’t invited. One of my coworkers texted me to ask if I was going and I told her I never received an invitation. My boss then emailed me and told me he forgot to include me. Thanks a lot, that makes me feel great. I know I’ve been out since May, but I’m still an employee.
  5. Last week was the baby’s baptism. I was really nervous that she would cry during the whole thing and cause a scene, but she was a perfect angel and slept for most of it. She only cried when the priest dumped water on her head and then went right back to sleep. Whew!

Bumpdate: 35 Weeks

Whenever anyone warns you about pregnancy, they seem to only focus on the first trimester aches and pains. No one ever really mentions the “fun” stuff that happens at the end: the feeling like you’re carrying around a bowling ball in your pants, the sensation that your pelvis is going to crack in half if you dare to roll over in bed in the middle of the night, the getting up to pee 42 times every night, the popping hip joints, the acid reflux that appears for NO reason whatsoever, and the difficulty going to the bathroom (Let’s just say I had to ask hubby to make a special trip to the store for prunes — and I don’t even like prunes, but boy do they work. Something else that works to get things moving, if you’re suffering like I am, is drinking a cup of hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. Thank you, Google.).

Other than that, baby and I are doing well. I had a check-up today and I am 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced, but my doctor is not concerned and feels that I still might make it to 40 weeks. I have to keep taking the medicine and resting for the next week and a half, and then she said I can resume normal activities. At this point we are out of the woods and she said if I go into labor, they won’t do anything to stop it. Exciting and horrifying all at the same time! Baby is still measuring small, but the doctors seem to think it’s because I’m tall (???) and some people just make small babies. S/he is still having a dance party in there every night, my ultrasounds look good, and his/her heartbeat is normal.

Hubby is in the process of painting the nursery. We went against everyone’s advice to choose a gender-neutral color and we chose blue instead. The room has a white chair rail, so I chose a light blue for the top half and he chose a darker shade for the bottom. With the white furniture we’re going to order, it is definitely going to be a little heavy on the Frozen side of things, but at least my youngest niece will approve. She has told us numerous times that we should name the baby, boy or girl, Elsa.

I’m not sure if we have everything we need, but I think we have all the essentials for now. We have a car seat to get the baby home from the hospital, we have onesies and socks and hats and little mittens, we have towels and washcloths, and we have a small supply of diapers and wipes. We have a Rock ‘n’ Play, a Pack ‘n’ Play, an activity mat thingy, a bathtub, nail clippers, a thermometer, a nasal aspirator, and I have all kinds of breastfeeding gadgets. I want to order the stroller tonight, along with a few more receiving blankets and whatever else is on sale at Babies R Us that I think we might need. The major item we’re missing is a bassinet – my friend had promised me hers once her son is done using it, which should be any day now. If that doesn’t pan out, then I figure we’ll just go grab our own from the store.

We met with pediatricians yesterday. The first office we went to came highly recommended by my sister-in-law and two family friends. I had high expectations going in, and honestly, I just wasn’t wowed. Neither was hubby. Everyone seemed nice enough, but the building and office were kind of run down and in need of work, none of the doctors took the time to talk to us (we met with a nurse instead), and even getting in there to have the consultation took days of effort because no one ever answered the phone or returned my calls. It took my sister-in-law calling on our behalf for someone to finally get back to us.

The other office we went to was just one that I found online that got good reviews. What a difference! Everything was clean and in good condition, TWO doctors took time from their lunch breaks to sit with us and answer all of our questions, and the rest of the staff we met were friendly and nice as well. It’s a bit of a further drive — 20ish minutes versus literally driving down to the street to the first place — but we think it’s worth it.

I’ve been trying to read more and have breezed through the following:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children — This was excellent, and not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be sort of a thriller, and I suppose it is in a way, but it’s also just a really fun story.

Prey — My husband loves Michael Crichton books and he recently started this one and was telling me how good it is. He encouraged me to try reading the first chapter, which I did one night while I was making dinner. I finished the book in two days, that’s how much I liked it. It really surprised me. The science-y stuff went a little over my head, but the rest of the story was fantastic.

In Her Shoes — This was a fluffy, easy read. I wanted something mindless, and this book was exactly that. It was fun and cute, and I enjoyed reading about the sisters’ relationship, but I also found myself skimming lots of parts just to get through it.

Jemima J — I’ve always wanted to read a Jane Green book because the company I used to work for designed her website and I remember that she had a HUGE fan base. I picked this up at a used book sale and while it was ok, I felt like it was just another version of Bridget Jones’ Diary. I felt like it dragged on for a bit and could have easily been edited down.

The Descendants — This is what I’m currently reading. I did not see the movie, at my dad’s advice, but I saw the book lying around on a table at the same used book sale, so I grabbed it. I’m far enough removed now from my mother’s death that I can (somewhat) better handle similar stories. I’m doing ok reading it, but I can see how watching the movie would have probably been difficult for me. The story is pretty good so far, but the characters are driving me CRAZY. The dad comes across as such a pushover, and the daughters are just rotten little brats with no discipline or manners whatsoever. I kind of just want to smack them most of the time. I’m about three-quarters through, so I’m definitely committed to finishing it at this point.

Bumpdate: 31 Weeks!

IMG_7171Life on “limited bed rest” is, well, pretty boring. I spend most of the day on the couch watching trashy TV and old reruns, reading, playing Candy Crush, and drinking what feels like gallons of water (then peeing approximately 4582 times). Monday was spent ordering large amounts of baby supplies in an OMG-we’re-not-prepared-at-all-panic. Tuesday and Wednesday I spent researching cars, and today I’m supposed to be calling pediatricians to set up some kind of meetings so we can ask them questions and decide who we want to be our baby’s doctor. Note to self: Google a list of questions for pediatricians.

I had my first weekly follow-up appointment with the doctor yesterday and she seemed confident that everything is fine so far. Although I am still having sporadic contractions, she assured me that they are not “real” and I will definitely know when they are. She wants me to keep taking it easy until the end of next week and try to keep my stress level down. Apparently the medicine I am taking (Procardia) has no proven effect on preterm labor – if the baby wants out early, it’s going to happen regardless of the medication. She told me that it is mostly used for a patient’s peace of mind – it relaxes the cardiac muscles as well as other muscles, therefore reducing the number of contractions felt, and finally making the patient calmer because she is not experiencing as many contractions. So it’s a head game, mostly. What with my history of anxiety, she thinks it is in my benefit to continue taking it, so that’s what I’m doing.

Aside from the contractions, I’m also experiencing bouts of hot flashes and really glamorous night sweats. While I think these are related to the medicine, the doctor says it’s not possible (Dr. Google says differently…) and it’s typical of the third trimester. All I know is I usually wake up drenched and have to take multiple showers per day. Maybe this is the “pregnant lady glow” everyone refers to? Also, I’m finding that eating even the smallest amount of food makes me feel absolutely stuffed for hours. I ate a yogurt for breakfast yesterday morning and you would think I ate an entire Thanksgiving dinner single-handedly.

Baby is kicking up a storm – and not those cute and gentle little flutters like before. These are purposeful, it’s-getting-crowded-in-here punches and shoves as s/he tries to shove my organs out of the way to get more comfortable.

Book wise, I’ve been reading lots of Sarah Dessen books. I would love to review them here, because I’ve loved all but one of them, but honestly… they’re all pretty much the same. She follows the same formula for every single book, it seems: teenage girl with a chip on her shoulder meets a quirky boy with an unusual name. Girl falls for boy against her better judgment. Girls does something on purpose to ruin the relationship because she can’t stand to feel happiness. Girl apologizes, boy forgives her, and everyone lives happily ever after. Despite this, I keep devouring each and every novel of hers I can get my hands on. Maybe it’s the predictability that I’m enjoying right now. I know going into it that I’m going to have a good reading experience, and sometimes I need that rather thank risking time on a book that ends up being disappointing.

I’m currently reading Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You and plan to get back to reviews once I finish it. I’m only 50 pages in, but I like it already and am excited to see where it goes.

Staycation Success

I somehow acquired 21 sick/vacation days at work this year, and I realized there is no way I will be able to use them all before July when I go on maternity leave – they’re giving me five months after the baby’s born, so I won’t be going back until next year and I can only carry over three days. Since hubby had off this week for Spring Break, I figured I might as well take a week and stay home with him and rest. I had grand plans of getting all kinds of stuff done around the house: cleaning out what will be the nursery, cleaning out the spare bedroom that will one day be an office, rearranging the furniture in our room so that I can get in and out of bed more easily, putting a bunch of stuff in the attic, treating the lawn, raking the remaining leaves, buying and putting down mulch, washing the windows and curtains, fixing the broken window screens, etc. I was in way over my head and I should have known it.

It rained on and off all week, so my outside plans were shot. I figured we could still do lots of stuff inside the house, though. What I underestimated was my lack of energy, hubby’s ability to get sick, and our preference for reading and watching movies over actually doing grown up things that need to get done.

I am happy to say that we did do some stuff that makes me feel slightly productive:

  • Put away all of the Christmas boxes in the attic (and in the process we have possibly discovered a new problem up there that needs to be addressed)
  • Washed the windows
  • Cleaned out the washing machine
  • We both got long overdue haircuts
  • We found time to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant that we haven’t been to in probably close to a year
  • Bought concrete caulk to patch some cracks in the steps
  • Bought plumbing tape to install our new shower head
  • Went through hundreds and hundreds of pictures on our hard drive and picked out some to print and frame
  • Narrowed down our laptop choices for hubby
  • Narrowed down our car choices for me
  • Picked out a definite boy baby name, and agreed on some girl choices

I managed to read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which was a long time coming. It’s been checked out of the library every time I look, but they finally had it on Monday and I read it in one day. It was a little heavy on the TV stuff, but I really enjoyed it. I think she’s hilarious, and it was fun getting to read more about her personal life and how she got her start.

I also read A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks. I picked this up at a huge used book sale at a nearby library (fill a paper grocery bag for $8!) and although I saw the movie when it came out and thought it was OK, I thought the book was so much better. Isn’t that always the case?

I’ve read about 100 pages of A Million Little Pieces (also snagged at the used book sale) and I think I’m done. I am having a very hard time getting through it. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m reading it now, after all the hoopla, and I know that a lot of it (most of it? all of it?) was fabricated, but I just CANNOT get into it. His writing style is horrific – the fact that there are no quotes around the dialog really throws me. I am constantly re-reading sections to make sure that I understand who is saying what to whom. It’s exhausting. I think this one is going to get thrown into my Donate pile and taken over to Goodwill one of these days.

We tried out DVD Express at our grocery store (like Redbox) and watched Big Hero 6The Imitation Game, and Mockingjay. All really good and highly recommended. It’s been a long time since I finished the Hunger Games series, which is probably the only reason I liked the movie – I couldn’t remember if they stuck close to the book or not!

IMG_7143Baby-wise, we are doing well. Hubby felt the baby kick for the first time yesterday and he was thrilled! I’ve felt him/her squirming around in there since week 17, but the kicks and jabs have gotten a lot more frequent and pronounced lately. My nosebleeds are at an all-time high, and I’ve been having what I think are Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple of weeks. At first I thought it was just some kind of cramping or stretching, but I read the definition of BH and realized it fits me to a T. Other than that, I’ve just been really, really tired and uncomfortable. I get cramp-y pretty easily, so I’ve been resting a lot and trying to limit how much walking I do – unfortunately. I had high hopes of being able to go outside for walks like we used to do after work every evening, but the fact that I can’t even walk around the grocery store for long without feeling yucky leads me to believe our walks will have to wait until the fall.

I think I am finally starting to look a little more pregnant instead of just fat. As much as I was not looking forward to getting bigger (and I’m still not, if I’m being honest), I’m anxious for that bump to grow and be more obvious. Thankfully no strangers have yet asked me if I’m pregnant or tried to touch me – I am dreading that day! I think I might put off enough of a Don’t talk to me vibe to avoid it, though.

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s taken me nearly five months to finish the Legend series by Marie Lu. I brought the first book with me on a business trip to Europe back in October/November, and I finished it while I was over there. June and Day are a bit of a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet – she is wealthy and well-educated, he is poor and more street smart than book smart. They end up on the same side and obviously fall in love – honestly, the whole thing was a little cliche and transparent. I liked the story enough to continue the series, however.

Prodigy was a struggle to get through. I think that maybe the author should have stopped at the first book and left well enough alone instead of trying to make a trilogy out of it. This installment took me the longest to complete – about 3 months. To be fair to me, though, pregnancy exhaustion is real, you guys. Case in point: our Christmas tree just came down on Friday night and it’s March. I haven’t had much energy at all, and the little I do have is usually spent on showering and keeping the house somewhat clean-ish. To say I have no time to read is an understatement. I want to, but I’ve been falling asleep on the couch before 9 pm most nights, so the chances of me reading in bed at night are slim to none.

Anyway. I finally finished Prodigy and as much as didn’t want to start Champion, I knew I had to see it through and I kind of just wanted to get it over with. There was way too much flowery description in this one. The author has a weird habit of describing people’s outfits in detail quite frequently. I understand the need to paint a picture, but I don’t need you to spell out for me exactly how many shiny gold medals so-and-so has on their lapel. This adds nothing to the story, in my opinion. Also, while the overall plot was interesting, I feel like scenes were dragged out and there was a lot of filler just to make this its own book. I think that Prodigy and Champion could have easily been smushed together into one, rather than splitting them up into two. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I mostly skimmed the last one hundred pages last night just to finish it and find out what happens. I don’t feel like I missed anything important by doing this.

Now that I’m done with that, I need a completely different genre. I’m burnt out on the Hunger Games-Divergent-Legend sort of reads. Naturally, then, I’ve turned to The Catcher in the Rye. I read it in high school and it was instantly everyone’s “favorite” book of all time, more so to make themselves look smart and hip than because they actually connected with it. I remember liking it well enough, but it didn’t stand out. I found a copy in decent condition at a library book sale a few weeks ago, and since it was “fill a bag for $8” I figured why not? I’m only a few chapters in right now, but already I like Holden. His “I hate everything and everyone annoys me” attitude reminds me a lot of myself, which is not necessarily anything to be proud of.

Books #27 through #37 of 2014

After a little friendly encouragement from a fellow blogger, I’m back! I’ve been debating all summer whether or not I want to keep writing here. Does anyone care what I have to say? Should I really be putting myself out there for the world to see? Is it safe to do this? The world is full of weirdos, you guys.

But, I’ve come to the conclusion that (1) It doesn’t really matter if anyone cares what I have to say because I started this blog for me, not anyone else, (2) I enjoy writing and as long as I’m careful and don’t share too much personal info, I should be fine. So here I am, and I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

I’ll be honest – I have no motivation to go back through the last ten books I’ve read and write individual reviews. I looked at my reading challenge on Goodreads and there are some books on there that I couldn’t properly summarize in a real review even if I tried. Here is a quick recap:

Book #27: After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
This story is told from Alice’s point of view, at times skipping into the past to explain her relationship with a man, and then fast forwarding to the present day as she’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Was she in an accident? Did she try to kill herself? This one was dark and kind of depressing, but I also really enjoyed it. It kept me guessing the whole way through and I greatly enjoyed it overall.

Book #28: The Giver by Lois Lowry
I was beyond excited to read this, because I felt like it was a book most of my peers had read in school at some point. I felt like I was missing out. Plus, it was short and I figured it would be a fast read, thus bumping up my read count. Turns out this wasn’t the book that everyone had read – I was thinking of Bread Givers. Oops. That’s ok, though, because this was a delightful read. I didn’t know what to expect, really, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Jonas’ world and his experiences. I don’t really know how to describe this one, but I would recommend it to anyone. My only complaint is the ending, which I won’t spoil. Let’s just say that I interpreted the ending one way and then after researching the book, I was disappointed.

Book #29: Finding Me by Michelle Knight
I can remember sitting at work and seeing the breaking news alert on my computer that several young women had been rescued from a “house of horrors” in Cleveland. I had never even heard their names before, let alone their story, but I was immediately drawn in and wanted to learn more about them. When I discovered that Michelle Knight was writing a book, I knew I had to read it. She spared no details, which meant that certain excerpts were difficult to read. It pained me to read about what she experienced, not just during her time held captive, but in her earlier life as well. Although at times it read a bit child-like, I appreciated the simple approach and her down-to-earth writing style.

Book #30: Every Day by David Levithan
A is a disembodied entity (soul? spirit?) who wakes up every morning in a different body. S/he takes over a different person’s life every morning and has to function as that person for 24 hours without causing too much permanent disruption. This proves difficult when s/he wakes up in a family who speaks a different language, or if s/he can’t access the person’s memories quickly enough to respond correctly in a conversation. One day A meets a girl and breaks all his/her rules about how involved to be. A unique and fun concept, the only problem I had with this book is that you have to suspend all belief in science and reality, and allow yourself to believe whatever the author tells you.

Book #31: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
When her daughter, Amelia, mysteriously dies at school after falling from the roof, Kate begins to investigate what actually happened. She doesn’t believe the theory that Amelia got caught cheating and then killed herself – she knows there is more to the story. We get to hear from multiple characters and the story flashes back between the recent past and the present to reconstruct what exactly happened to Amelia and what led her to the roof that fateful day.

Book #32: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
This turned out to be one of my favorite recent reads. It took me over a month to finish, including some overdue fines at the library because I brought it on vacation with me. It wasn’t especially difficult to get through, so I’m not entirely sure what took me so long, other than I was completely engrossed in Gemma’s life and I wanted to really read every word. It follows Gemma from the time she is a little girl up until she is a young adult. We experience her parents’ death, her move to Scotland to live with her uncle, his death and her expulsion from his house, her adventures in boarding school and as a nanny. I felt like I was watching a movie as I was reading. This was well-written with just enough drama to make it interesting, but not so much as to make it unbelievable.

Book #33: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This was another one on my must-read list because I never read it in school. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I won’t bother with a summary since it’s such a well-known book and movie, but I just could not connect to these characters or care about them at all. Perhaps the worst part for me was the dialogue – it felt so uncomfortable. The movie actually came on TV the day after I finished reading it, and I thought maybe that would help me appreciate it more. My husband was excited and told me it was one of his favorite movies of all time. It did nothing for me. I am glad I gave it a chance, though, because now at least I have my own opinion of it.

Book #34: Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
I was excited about the concept of this book: that it is impossible for anyone to truly know every side of a person. Everyone has secrets and everyone projects a certain personality depending on who they’re with and what the situation is. However, the book really fell short of my expectations. I learned that the author would receive a photo from a colleague and then write the story around the photo. This really showed in the finished product because the whole thing felt forced and disconnected, and well, just plain strange.

Book #35: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
My husband is really into comic books and he had heard that this graphic novel was supposed to be very good. He’s wanted it forever and he’s been trying to convince me to give it a try. I ended up buying volumes one and two for him for our anniversary, and I picked it up because I was out of books and jonesing for something to read. I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was. It’s based on the author’s life growing up in Iran, and it spans the time form when she was a very young girl until she was a teenager. I loved hearing about the wars and fighting from a child’s perspective. She had a basic understanding of what was going on, but she also just wanted to hang out with her friends and have fun. I highly, highly recommend this.

Book #36: Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
Naturally, since I enjoyed the first volume so much, I was excited to continue reading about Marjane’s experiences. I don’t know if my expectations were too high, or if I just didn’t care for it, but this one was a struggle to get through. The author came across as somewhat whiny, and I couldn’t relate to her life choices at all. I found myself rolling my eyes and judging her a lot, even though I didn’t mean to. Whereas the first one made me smile, laugh, and even cry, this one made me just want to hurry up and finish it so I could move on to something else.

Book #37: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
I absolutely loved the Percy Jackson series of books. I can remember starting to read this one several years ago, but then I think Hurricane Irene happened and our life got turned upside down and this book got lost in a box somewhere for quite awhile. I decided to pick it back up and start from the beginning since I couldn’t remember anything about it. It’s no Percy Jackson, but it was fun and entertaining. It did connect to Percy because you do get to revisit Camp Half Blood and some of the original characters. I felt kind of lukewarm about it while I was reading, but then the ending completely left me hanging and wanting to continue the series.

And now I’m working on Insurgent, which I’m loving, although not as much as Divergent. I’ve heard that a lot of people were disappointed with this one and the last installment, but I’m trying not to let that cloud my judgement.

Book #4 of 2014: The Time of My Life

I’m obviously a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern, and have read every one of her books that I can get my hands on (some don’t seem to be available in the US, unfortunately). I really wanted to love The Time of My Life, and I did like it, but it left me with mixed feelings.

Lucy is recovering from a break up, getting fired from her job (she totally deserved it), moving from a gorgeous apartment into a studio that comes with a free nutty neighbor, and is just generally having a bad time. She’s a pathological liar, doesn’t get along with her family (with good reason), and is pretty awful to her coworkers and friends. She keeps receiving letters from the Life Agency, but she ignores them until she can’t any longer. She sets up an appointment to meet with her Life, although she doesn’t take it seriously until about halfway (maybe longer?) through the book.

Her Life turns out to be a dirty, depressed man working in an office – and this is kind of where the storyline fell apart for me. There is very little explanation about how this whole Life Agency works and what it is. I like the concept – that each of us have an actual Life represented in human form, someone who keeps tabs on every single thing we do and say, someone who knows us better than we know ourselves. But the author never explains the details behind this. Is Life really just a person working in an office? Does he go home to a family at night? Does he die? Is he human? The reader is expected to just take this idea at face value and not ask too many questions, but I had a lot of trouble with that.

As you can probably guess, Life helps Lucy get her life organized and together, but not without some hijinks along the way. She has to deal with the issues surrounding her break up, she meets a new man, she is forced to come clean about her lying to both her boss and her friends, and she has to patch things up with her family.

While I enjoyed this story, it was not my favorite by Cecelia Ahern. If you like her work then I would recommend it, but it’s definitely not going on my “to re-read” pile.

Book #3 of 2014: The First Phone Call from Heaven

It has been a trying week, you guys. A week full of emergency room visits, and leaving work early, and fretting, at least one panic attack, and just now, a teaspoon of Nutella straight from the jar to ease the anxiety. Normalcy is slowly resuming, and I actually found a few minutes to myself to write, so I thought I would FINALLY post a review of Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call from Heaven.

I’ve been a fan of good ole’ Mitchie since Tuesdays with Morrie, I loved The Five People You Meet in Heaven, so I was beside myself with excitement when I saw he had a new book coming out. I didn’t even read the description — I knew from the title that I had to have it, so on to the Christmas list it went.

The gist is that a handful of people in some middle-of-nowhere small town start getting phone calls from their deceased loved ones. The calls are brief, usually only lasting a few minutes, and they don’t get into too much detail. They seem to come on the same day every week. One woman in particular starts speaking out about the calls and that inspires others to discuss theirs as well. It soon hits the national media and the town becomes overrun with reporters, news crews, and religious fanatics.

There’s at least one person who doesn’t buy it all — he lost his wife not long ago and is struggling to adjust to life fresh out of prison, AND with a young son who misses his mom more than anything. He begins investigating and eventually discovers the source of the calls, but not without a shock or two along the way.

I really enjoyed this book, both because I like Albom’s writing style and because the subject of the story fascinated me. For obvious reasons, the idea of receiving phone calls (or ANY kind of communication, really) from people in Heaven is high on my wish list. Maybe the fact that I don’t think it’s impossible added to my excitement over the book? I mean, I think anyone who has lost someone has at one time or another hoped for some sign that they are OK, happy, and still in the loop on what we’re all up to down here on Earth. This book, even though it’s fiction, gave me hope (however false and deluded it might be) that just maybe there is life after death.