Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Summer Book Challenge

Last winter, I participated in a Blogger Book Challenge hosted by Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. It was so fun and led me to different books than I would've otherwise picked out! So of course, I'm going to participate in her Summer Reading Challenge! Here are the categories and my ideas for each one:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long. 
So many could go here!

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born. 
I really want to do Gone with the Wind for this one, but it's just so long.
So, I'm gonna go with The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett, which was published in 1982.

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around. 
Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore. 
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it. 
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe. 
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge. 

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title. 
The Scavenger's Daughters by Kay Bratt

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014. 
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby or Serena by Ron Rash or Devil's Knot 
by Mara Leveritt or Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern 

25 points: Read a book written by a blogger. 
Maybe Hyperbole and a Half? I have no idea about this one. Any suggestions??

25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir. 
Love Life by Rob Lowe or Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles. 
The Innocent Man by John Grisham and Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Have any good suggestions for any of the categories??  I'm all ears!

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Want the Truth! (Or Just an NG.)

There's nothing more exciting in the life of a lawyer than a jury trial.  When I was young, I'd watch Law & Order and dream of being Jack McCoy.  As I got older, I wanted to be Lieutenant Daniel Caffey in A Few Good Men, which is still one of my all-time favorite movies.
These days, my trial attorney hero is Mickey Haller of The Lincoln Lawyer.  I just don't want his clients...
This week, I'll be in a jury trial-- only the second of my career.  My first came only about a year after I started practicing, and I've been antsy for another one ever since.  My case this week isn't the strongest, but as long as I have something to argue, I'm set.  

I managed to hold off the nerves and anxiety through the weekend, but now that I'm in the office and making final preparations, I can feel the adrenaline and nerves starting up.  There's no rush quite like beginning an opening statement to a jury.  Except maybe hearing the words, "not guilty."

Can't wait to get started tomorrow!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Club Friday-- Lost Lake.

GoodReads Synopsis: Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

My Thoughts:  I can't begin to describe how much I loved this book!  I was not at all excited to read it, but it was due back at the library sooner than the other books I had, so I picked it up.  And I'm SO glad I did.  I immediately loved the way Sarah Addison Allen wrote-- her descriptions of things were such descriptive word pictures.  But the best part of the book were the characters she created-- all of them unique in their own way but all incredibly loveable, from the 90 year old lady to the 40 year old handyman to the eight year old girl.  In fact, Devin (the little girl) was my favorite character-- I want to have a daughter like her.

It's a fantastic story of the joys of childhood, the persistence of love, and learning how to grieve and let go.  I absolutely recommend this book!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Have the Travel Bug.

It's already April, and we don't have a vacation planned for this year.  We are planning a long trip to Texas over Thanksgiving, so we probably won't have another big trip in 2014.  We'll probably do a long weekend at the beach or something close by for Labor Day, but that's all.  Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not already thinking about possibilities for NEXT year!

I'm DYING to go to Disney World.  I haven't been since the fifth grade, and Donny has never been.  It looks so, so fun!!
I've also been wanting to go back to Boston, which is quite possibly my favorite city (after Chapel Hill, of course). Donny has only been for work and not gotten to do the touristy stuff, but I know he'd love the history and beauty of the city.  And we could see Jodi!
Then again, I'm never going to turn down a tropical, relaxing vacation.  This option is probably the least enticing to Donny, as he gets bored just sitting by the ocean, which I do not understand AT ALL.  What's not to love about a week at the beach with a book in your lap and a pineapple daiquiri in your hand??
And finally, the Yankees have been in their new stadium for five years now, and I've yet to go.  That's far too long and needs to be rectified very soon!

Any other ideas for me??

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Love Long Weekends.

Last week, my weekend began on Thursday since our office had Good Friday off!  So Thursday night, I stopped by the redbox (thanks to a well-timed free rental code) to pick up Frozen!  We hadn't seen it yet, but it was SO good!
Friday, I woke up to my lilies blooming like crazy!  They're so gorgeous.  What a thoughtful husband... :)
I spent the day running some errands before haircut time!

I haven't had my hair this short in forever (and it's a little shorter than I had planned), but I'm liking it! I think a few weeks from now will be the perfect length.

Friday night, we went to The Melting Pot around Lake Norman for my friend Katie's birthday.  I had never been to a Melting Pot before, but it was such a fun way to spend the evening with friends!  Our group of six meant that we got to choose two options for all the courses (and three for dessert!), so we got to try a lot of different stuff.  
Me, Katie, and Ali
Green Goddess Cheddar fondue-- oh so delicious
Happy birthday, Katie!
The cinnamon sparks in the bananas foster dessert fondue!
What a hot date, I had!

Saturday, I had planned on reading all afternoon, but Donny and I decided to go see Bears instead.  He loves the Disney Nature movies, and I thought the Bears looked super cute in the previews, so we went.  It was really good, although a little more stressful than I had anticipated.  But I guess I should have been prepared for it, since bears are out in the wild and it's eat or be eaten out there...  
After the movie, I did get in some reading of The Other Typist.  This book is a slow-burn type of story, which is very intriguing but also kind of slow to read.  It's taken me over a week, and I'm not done yet.  Hopefully I can finish it today and move on to another in my huge stack of library books.

Sunday we went to church and then to our annual Easter lunch at Nana's.  My brother joined us too, and it was really nice to hang out with him.  Especially since we won't see him much when he moves to LA this fall!
Yes, I'm wearing the same dress as Friday night.  
It's just too cute and springy not to wear often!
After lunch, I once again had plans to read my book, but those plans were waylaid by my husband, who wanted to go for a bike ride.  It was the perfect day to be outside, so off we went on our bikes!  I hadn't ridden a bike in who knows how long, so I was a little nervous and wobbly.  But it was a lot of fun!  I'm looking forward to getting back out there soon.
After bike riding, we went to Walmart to get some necessities, and they had Frozen on sale!  So of course, we bought it.  Now I just need the soundtrack...
And this morning, I came into the office to find this cute little guy waiting for me from one of my co-workers, Stacy!  What a happy surprise.  :)

How was your weekend??

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Club Friday-- My Story.

GoodReads Synopsis: On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.  Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.

My Thoughts:  I read this book in just over 24 hours.  It was immediately captivating, and I loved the way Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart told the story.  Her ordeal was horrifying and heartbreaking to read about.  But I absolutely loved Elizabeth's perspective.  Her positivity and hope while she was held captive is incredible.  She describes repeatedly how her faith kept her strong, and how she knew that God was with her.  I was so impressed by the perspective that she has-- that those people were evil, she was a victim of a horrible crime, but that those nine months with them do not have to ruin, or even define, her life.  She seems incredibly well-adjusted now, both in this book and in the interviews I've seen with her.  I highly recommend reading this book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Single Girl's Weekend.

Last Friday, Donny flew off to Texas to spend a weekend with the Texas Rangers while I stayed here in NC.  I had big plans for lots of alone time to read, watch the Yankees/Red Sox series, clean, and have a girls' night with our Bible Fellowship ladies.  I know it sounds kind of lame, but it was great!  For an introvert like me, having a weekend to myself really recharged my batteries.  I feel great today, and I'm SO very ready to see Donny tonight!  I missed him so much.  

On Friday, I walked into my office to find these beautiful flowers from Donny!  He's so very thoughtful and knew that I would miss him so had these delivered to work.  They arrived as buds...
... but by Sunday, they looked like this! GORGEOUS!
Friday, I spent the evening cleaning, giving myself a pedicure and DIY facial mask, watching the Yankees beat the Red Sox, and reading The Hundred-Foot Journey.  I really wanted to finish the book on Friday, but I just couldn't stay awake any longer to read it.  
I also stayed up to watch the end of the Rangers game, which went into 12 innings.  It was such déjà vu from the days when Donny lived in Texas and went to Rangers games and I'd stay up until they were over waiting for him to call me.  Boy am I glad those days are long gone...  

Saturday, I had lunch plans with my friend Katie that turned into breakfast plans at Cracker Barrel!  What a delicious morning...
And then after breakfast, her car won't start.  Fortunately, we are two capable women, so we have two sets of jumper cables.  However, he car is parked between other cars, and our jumper cables are not 30 feet long.  So, we have to push her car out into the middle of the parking lot to get mine close enough to jump it. Thankfully, another woman came out to help us, and we were able to get her going without much further fuss.  Then we went to see Divergent, which was SO good!
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting the house ready for ladies' night for our Bible Fellowship class and making buffalo chicken dip.  Yum.  We had a pretty small crowd, but it was really great to spend time getting to know some of the women in our class that I don't know very well.

Sunday was both a relaxing and productive day.  I did loads and loads of laundry, finished all the cleaning that I had planned for the weekend, and just chilled.
I started Beautiful Ruins, reading more than half of it yesterday.  But I'm really just ready for this book to end-- I don't love it at all.  Maybe the ending will be great, and I'll love it, so I'll reserve judgment until it's over.
I finished the weekend watching the Yankees win their third out of four games against the Red Sox.  It was a pretty exciting game-- home runs hit, great catches made, sadly players getting hurt, and then John Farrell (the Red Sox manager) getting thrown out of the game.  Fun times!
All in all, a pretty great weekend.  But after all my alone time, I'm so ready to see my husband!!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend too!
Mingle 240

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Club Friday-- The Silent Wife.

GoodReads Synopsis: Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept.

My Thoughts:  This book has been compared to Gone Girl, and it is similar in the fact that it's about how far a woman can be pushed by an adulterous husband before she reaches her breaking point and then ultimately the drastic measures that she takes.  But it was also very, very different.  I have a hard time writing this review because I want to describe how intricately woven the story is and how intense it is, but I can't go into much detail without ruining the story.  It's SO good-- possibly even better than Gone Girl.  From the very first page, you're told that her marriage has deteriorated so far that it has made her a killer, something she never thought she'd be.  The rest of the story is spent describing the events that led up to the murder and the aftermath.  It's a slow burning story building up to the twist at the end.

It may not be the book for everyone, but I absolutely loved it and definitely recommend it if you like suspenseful books or psychological thrillers.  And I'm incredibly sad that this is the one and only novel from A.S.A. Harrison before her death in 2013.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Club Friday-- Stella Bain.

GoodReads Synopsis:  When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.
A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

My Thoughts:  I've only read one other Anita Shreve book, The Pilot's Wife, and LOVED it.  So, I was really excited to read this one, her newest release.  But I didn't feel it was as good.  Maybe the whole memory loss just wasn't my cup of tea.  It was interesting to see how "shell shock" was treated in the early 1900s, especially the differences in treatment of men and women.  But I just felt sad for her the entire book, even after the mystery of her past was solved and she started to deal with the repercussions of her earlier decisions.

I think it's worth reading if you already like Anita Shreve books, are interested in WWI stories, or are just looking for something a little unusual.  But it's not a lighthearted read by any stretch of the imagination, nor was it truly amazing like The Pilot's Wife.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

15 Things I Hate More than April Fools Day.

Thank you Sarah for today's blog post inspiration!  I too hate hate hate April Fool's Day.  Fortunately no one in my current circle of folks is big on the day either, but there were times in my life that it was a big deal.  But I hate pranks and being pranked and basically being made to look like a fool.  Making me think you're pregnant or have cancer or are quitting your job-- Haha ha ha.  NO.  Let's use our brains and actually be clever to be funny.

But there are a few other things that get under my skin as much or more than April Fool's Day:

1.  Washing dishes.

2.  Also, having a sink full of dirty dishes.  It's quite the conundrum...

3.  Getting stuck in traffic.
4.  Bugs.

5.  The DirecTV iPhone app.  And the fact that it doesn't always tell my DVR to record what I want it to.

6.  The hump day camel commercials.  No no no no no.
7.  The Boston Red Sox and Duke Blue Devils.  (Sorry, Jodi!  :))
All of America knows that Dook sucks.
8.  Having to actually walk into an establishment to pick up my takeout.  Get a drive-thru, people.

9.  Buying books at full-price.  Between amazon, used book stores, and the library, why would I ever do this??
Free books!
10.  Country music.  I'm sorry, but most of it sounds like cats fighting.

11.  Blogs that are full of sponsored posts and self-promotion with no content.

12.  Reality television.  Except Chrisley Knows Best-- that s#!t is funny.
13.  Telephone solicitors who want to chit chat.  Yes it's nice weather.  No, I'm not giving you money.

14.  Vampires.  Books about vampires, tv shows about vampires, movies about vampires...

15.  The HIMYM finale.  Okay, maybe I don't hate it as much as April Fool's Day.  But I couldn't very well post today without addressing it.  And if you haven't watched it yet, don't read any further.  I had an inkling that the Mother would be dead-- it makes sense that that is why Ted is telling his kids this forever-long story.  But to break up Barney and Robin after all that build up and then have Ted and Robin get back together after all that time??  So lame.  I never liked Ted and Robin together, and I was so annoyed that that is how they ended it.  Although now that I've had some time to reflect, I can kind of see it.  He got to have the family and kids that he wanted; she got to travel the world like she wanted.  Now they can be together.  But I hate that they had to go through a wedding and divorce with Barney to get there.  But my absolute favorite moment of the finale was when Barney met his daughter.  So many tears.  Big, fat crocodile tears.
Thoughts on the HIMYM finale?  Do you hate or love April Fool's Day?