Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Club Friday

I know, I've been way behind on my book reviews for 2014. I decided to link up with Book Club Friday (it's been a LONG time since I'm participated in it). I know I'm probably only supposed to review one book for that link up, but I decided to get totally caught up on my reviews (since I'm actually making time to sit and update my blog). I'll keep them short so you won't be too overwhelmed. And, as always, you can follow me on GoodReads here

(3.5 out of 5 stars)

Summary: Ten months after dropping out of all-girl Tarble College, Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year, a time marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that caused her to question her sanity.
When a mysterious suitcase arrives bearing Ruby's name and address, she tries to return it to its rightful owner Beth, a dorm-mate at Tarble, only to learn that Beth disappeared two days earlier.
With clues found in the luggage, including a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which Ruby believes instigated her madness, she sets out to uncover the truth. 

After the first few chapters, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book, BUT, I'm so glad I kept reading. I guess the story wasn't what I thought it was going to be, so it took me a while to get into it, but after I did, I really enjoyed it. There were parts of the book that I didn't see coming (and I'm usually good at figuring out stuff like that). And I thought the ending was really good! This was the author's debut novel, I plan to check out her next one. 

(4 out of 5 stars)

Summary: Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in "The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived-and famously testified that her 15 year-old brother Ben was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club, a secret, secret society obsessed with notorious crimes-locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history. She'll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club- for a fee. As Libby's search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started-on the run from a killer. 

I found a list of 16 books to read before their movies came out this year (see list here) and this book was listed. I decided to give it a try. Hence the name, it was pretty "dark". If you like books about puppies and happy thoughts, I don't recommend this for you. It's kind of a mystery, but can get pretty graphic, especially recalling the murder scene. I wasn't sure what I thought of the Libby character at first. I assumed you were supposed to sympathize with her because she went through something so tragic as a child, but she seems to want to profit from it, even 25 years later. Honestly none of the characters are very likable (it doesn't take away from the novel though). The character Lyle kinda grew on me after a while. BUT, it's still a good read. I plan to check out some more Gillian Flynn books soon. I also plan to see the movie when it comes out later this year.

(4 out of 5 stars)

Summary: Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her "happily ever after" begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill, but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in the trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!
Well, perfect except that the phone's owner, businessman Sam Raxton, doesn't agree. He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents, she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

After reading such a dark and gory book like Dark Places, I needed something "light" to read, so I turned to a Sophie Kinsella's book. Sophie rarely disappoints with her novels, this was a cute story. As someone who lives through text messages, it was fun to read the correspondence of Poppy and Sam's texts going back and forth. I could so relate to having a relationship through texts. Was it a realistic story? Not really. What is predictable? Absolutely (well, for the most part). But like most chick-lit, it was a fun read. I read it in less than a day.

(4 out of 5 stars)

Summary: When Special Agent Kathryn Dance, a brilliant interrogator and kinesics expert is sent to question the convicted killer Daniel "Son of Mason" Pell, as a suspect in a newly unearthed crime, she feels both trepidation and electrifying intrigue. Pell is serving a life sentence for the brutal murders of a wealthy Croyton family years earlier. Pell and his cult members were sloppy. Not only were they caught, they even left behind a survivor, the youngest of the Croyton daughters, who, because she was in bed hidden behind her toys that night, was dubbed the Sleeping Doll.
But when Dance's party goes terribly wrong and Pell escapes, leaving behind a trail of dead and injured, she finds herself in charge of her first-ever manhunt. Dance turns to the part to find the truth out what Daniel Pell is really up to. She tracks down the now teenage Sleeping Doll to learn what really happened that night, and she arranges a reunion of three women who were in Pell's cult at the time of the killings. The lies of the past and the evasions of the present boil up under the relentless probing of Kathryn Dance, but will the truth about Daniel Pell emerge in time to stop him from killing again?

This is the first book by Jeffery Deaver that I have read. I'll be honest, halfway through the book I was expecting to only give it three stars (it was good, but was kind of dragging), but during the second half of the book, the pace picked up, earning it an additional star from me. I like the character Kathryn Dance and look forward to reading more books in her series. This isn't nearly as dark as Dark Places, but there is some mystery and murder throughout the book (you have been warned). The one thing I found kinda funny (I guess I should put spoiler alert, although it's not really and it won't ruin the book), is that the book is called The Sleeping Doll, but that character is only in the book for a very brief time. Regardless, I thought it was a good read.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mobile Monday

First, I KNOW, I KNOW, I'm so behind on my book reviews. Soon, I promise. I'll catch y'all up on what I've been reading.

I meant to update my blog last week, but the past few weeks have been just nuts. My niece has been in the hospital for almost two weeks, so life has been kinda crazy. I just got back from spending a few days with her. I don't want to get too much into it right now, but prayers and good thoughts are appreciated for her! 

After visiting my niece in the hospital on Thursday, I helped out by watching her three kids (my niece is 29). I hadn't seen my family since Christmas Day, so it was good to be home and to spend time with them.

My great-nephew E and my great-niece K
My great-nephew C
After leaving the hospital on Friday, I had to make a stop someplace, and I found this lip balm. Of course I had to buy it!! 

Baseball lip balm!! It's perfect. :)
I stayed with my parents while I was home. I found a page on Facebook recently called Vintage San Antonio where they upload old pictures from around San Antonio. Since my dad is from there, I thought he might like to look at some of them. He doesn't have Facebook, so I logged on and we looked at the page on my laptop. He really enjoyed it, and he told me some fascinating stories when he saw a picture from the time period of his childhood. There was one picture of a campaign rally for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1948. My dad told me a story how he had been there with his neighbor and that after the speech, he was able to shake LBJ's hand. My dad was studying the picture, then I saw him lean in real close. He realized that he was sitting on the front row in the picture!

My dad is the kid on the ground to the right of the picture. This picture is courtesy of Vintage San Antonio. I hope it's okay that I used it. All credit goes to them!
I tried to blow it up a little so you could see my dad. :) Photo courtesy Vintage San Antonio

As you can imagine, the past few weeks have been kinda crazy with me worrying about my niece. I also had a few rough weeks at work. One day one of my sweet guy friends sent me this text. I honestly have the bestest friends ever! Just a text like this made my day. :)

My friend's kids are also awesome. The daughter of my sweet friend Kelly sent me this Valentine's.

A few weeks ago, I found a $25 gift card to Half Price Books that I got for Christmas (and by some miracle, hadn't spent yet). I had a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase, so I decided it was a great time to use it! My total came to $25.09 but the cashier spotted me the nine cents, so, I got 8 new books to read! :)

Well, the book Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret, is actually replacing my old copy I lost when I was a kid. I read the Sophie Kinsella book last week. Book review to come soon!! 
If you are on Facebook, you've noticed all these quizzes where you can find out what character you are from a movie, book, or TV show. While I was in the hospital with my niece, I did the Sesame Street Quiz. I'm Grover. It works for me, blue is my favorite color. :)

Okay, I PROMISE this week, I'll have at least one of my book reviews for you. I'll try to get to all three!! Hope you are all doing well!!


Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Okay to Be Single...

A few days ago someone mentioned the post I wrote last year on Valentine's Day and how much they liked it. First of all, I'm honored that they not only liked it back then, but they are still thinking about it a year later. I decided for those of you who weren't following my blog (or maybe didn't read it back then), I would re-post it this year. I had to make a few updates (like my age and stuff), but this is pretty much what I said. 

My Name is Rachel, And I Am Single

I've been debating all morning if I wanted to write this post or not. And when I say all morning, I mean since 3:30am when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep (blast you sinus trouble!) Even as I'm typing all of this out, I'm not sure I'll end up publishing it. We shall see (obviously if you are reading this, I'm publishing it). :)

I normally keep my posts kinda silly (because I'm a silly, yet delightful person), but today I might lean more towards my serious side (yes, I do have one). If I was a gambling person, I would be willing to bet money that most blog posts you read today will be talking about Valentine's Day (whether positive or negative). At first I thought, you know what, I'm going to be the exception and not say anything at all. I'll just do my normal "It's OK Thursday" and not even mention it. Then last night I received texts from a few single female friends and after talking to them about almost the exact same thing, I changed my mind and decided to post something after all. 

It's kinda hard being single on Valentine's Day (and not for the reasons you are thinking, hear me out). If you don't mention it at all, people think, "oh, it's just too painful for her to talk about since she's single." If you DO say something about how you don't really care, they think, "oh, she's just bitter and sad because she's single." LISTEN UP PEOPLE (yeah, I'm talking to you). Don't you realize that people can be single AND happy? I know lots of people in relationships (dating and married) who are miserable, so don't tell me I can only be happy when I'm in a romantic relationship. 

I feel at times singles are treated like we need to be in a support group. "Hi, my name is Rachel. I'm 27 years old (okay, I'm really 35*, I just like to think I still look 27), and I'm single". If you are single, you know what I'm talking about, right? You show up at a party, a wedding, or a family function without a date or significant other, and you feel like people are giving you that sympathetic, "oh, I'm so sorry you are by yourself" look. Thanks for making me feel like I have a disease.

After texting my friends last night (we were all agreeing we keep hearing the same things from our friends about our dating life), I decided to come up with a list for you to consider when dealing with your single friends (this is probably more for single ladies, but I'm sure it would apply to single guys too). These were items that my friends and I agreed on. And I'm not saying this applies to EVERYONE, it's just something to think about. Also, I say this with all the love in my heart so please don't think I'm mad or saying this in a mean or bitter way. I do love you all!

1. Please, for the LOVE OF STEVE AVERY, stop saying, "You are such a great person and a wonderful 'catch', I don't understand how you are single." You know what, I am an AWESOME person, you don't have to tell me that. I already know it. I love sports, action movies, and can cook 8 meals not using a microwave- what's not to love? I AM a big deal (I mean, I DO have 1520** followers on Twitter- people who don't even know me like me). I know you think you are being encouraging when you say that, but you know what, you aren't. So please, stop.

2. If you have a single guy friend you want to introduce me to, first of all, please don't make it awkward and have a one-on-one meeting. Have a party or get together where there are other people there so it's not obvious we are both single and you are trying to set us up. That makes it uncomfortable for both parties involved. Second, just because he's single and has a pulse doesn't mean we are going to hit it off, so don't be offended if I don't like your friend (or vice versa). 

3. Don't tell me I'm being "too picky" when it comes to guys. Now, I have accepted the fact that I'm not going to end up with Craig Gentry or Ryan Gosling (I'm a little sad about it, but I've accepted it), but I do have things I'm not willing to negotiate on when it comes to my dating relationships.

You know my faith is very important to me (if you didn't know it, you know it now). If he doesn't love the Lord, it's not going to work. I can tell you that right now. He can be the sweetest and nicest [insert religion or non-religion here] out there, but I just know from my past dating relationships, if we don't agree on our faith, there is no point in even trying. I'm not trying to sound snobby when I say that, so please don't read that as me being conceited or that I think only Christian guys are worthy of dating me, I'm not saying that at all. I've dated some Christian guys who were really NOT worthy of dating me (but that's a story for another day). I just know when it comes to ME, faith is THE big thing. I could accept the fact that he doesn't like country music, or Dr Pepper, or even if he wasn't a Texas Rangers fan (although that would make baseball season very awkward for us). :) That being said, don't think just because he goes to church that means we are going to hit it off. If Christians just needed to find another single Christian and they would immediately fall in love, there would be no single groups at churches. :)

4. If you haven't seen me in a while, please don't ask, "so, are you dating anyone?" If I'm dating someone (and if I want you to know I'm dating someone), I'll let you know, trust me. That being said, yes, I've dated and haven't talked about it on my blog or updated Facebook about it. I'll let you know when I'm ready to let you know. I even dated a guy close to a year that my family and some friends never knew about (I'm pretty sure that statement is going to open a can of worms next time I see people). Seriously, ask me questions like "what's new?", "anything interesting going on in your life?", "Has Craig Gentry put a restraining order out against you yet?" etc. If I'm dating and ready to tell you, I will.

5. One of my friends last night was dealing with this situation and she knew I could relate. Please don't criticize my morals and what I do (or in this case, DON'T do) in my dating relationships. I respect your beliefs/morals and how you live your life, please respect mine and don't tell me I'm crazy for it.

This wasn't meant to call anyone out or to sound like I don't appreciate your concerns about my life (because I do), but again, I feel at times married people (or even people in dating relationships) all of a sudden forget they were ever single and they are now the expert in what you should and shouldn't do. Think back to when you were single and ask yourself if you would have wanted someone to say or do that to you, that's all.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox. I really hope that didn't offend anyone. It was not my intention at all. I hope you are still with me, thanks for reading. I do hope that you all have a great Valentine's Day (whether you are single, married, dating, etc). Just think- tomorrow all Valentine's Day candy is marked down 50%. :)


*Changed from 34 to 35
**Changed from 1307 to 1520 Twitter followers

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's OK Thursday!

I haven't done one of these in forever so here I go.
(I know it's not an official link up anymore, but I'm still doing it). 

It's OK...

...that the Rangers have gotten rid of some of my favorites. I will be okay. Baseball season is almost here and everything will be okay (I figure if I say it enough times, I will believe it). :)

Yes, even Craig Gentry is gone. You won't believe how many text messages and tweets I got the day he was traded to make sure I was okay.

...that the Rangers renamed The Ballpark to Globe Life Park. Everyone will still call it the Ballpark anyway.

For the record, I had NEVER heard of Globe Life Insurance until they bought the naming rights to The Ballpark. Interesting enough, the next day, I got an email from Globe Life Insurance. Guess someone sold my email address.
The text message I received from my Bubba about the new name. I'm not sure if he was that passionate about not liking it, or if his phone sent the text more than once.
...that my office sent us home early because of snow and ice last week. I took this picture on my way home. I never want to live any place where this amount of snow won't send me home from work. :) For the record, I take back streets to get home, so those roads were not as bad as the highways. Also, there was more concern about ice forming later in the day. 

...that I can't seem to go into a bookstore without buying something for myself.

I have never read The Wizard of Oz so I bought it to see how different it was than the movie (I'm halfway through, there are some big differences). I also have never read H.P. Lovecraft, but he has been compared to Edgar Allan Poe (who I like). I'll let you know what I think.
...that I'm the only person who takes antibiotics and thinks "Oh, these are pretty colors".

Hoping my sinus infection goes away soon. I've been miserable for about a week!
...that it took me so long to get a library card in Dallas. I went by yesterday and checked out three books. I may or may not be over halfway done with one of them already. 

...that I haven't done my book review from last week. I'll get to it this weekend. I'm too busy reading. :)

...that doing this post has made me miss blogging. I've been trying to get back in a writing groove. Maybe this will start something! :)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Brass Verdict-Book Review

I told you I was going to try and do my weekly book reviews. I just finished The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly. This is only the second book of Connelly's that I've read, but I'm becoming a fast fan. 

The first book I read was The Lincoln Lawyer (yes, the movie with Matthew McConaughey is based on it, but the book was better). I really liked the main character, Mickey Haller, so I picked this book up (book 2 in the series). I was introduced to another character of Connelly's- Harry Bosch. I now have to catch up on the Harry Bosch books-from what I read about Bosch in this novel, I think I will like him. 

I like Connelly's writing style. His books are easy to read (that is not an insult, it simply means that his writing flows well and it's easy to get caught up in the story). I really like his characters. There are some minor characters introduced in this novel that I hope make an appearance in another Haller stories (one of them being Patrick- if you read the book, you will meet him). I would like to see where Connelly takes them. 

The only problem with reviewing a mystery book is that you don't want to say too much. I don't want to give something away in the story (as minor of a detail it might be). I will say there were some things I didn't see coming, so I was surprised!

If you read this book, I would recommend reading The Lincoln Lawyer first, just to get some background on Mickey Haller. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014


As if I wasn't already too lazy busy enough to deal with my blog and other forms of social media, I have added another site to my list (makes sense, right?) A few years ago I signed up for, and kinda forgot about it. A friend of mine (thanks Mel) mentioned to me last week it was a great way to keep up with the books I have read, and to also write reviews. So, after some slight issues with my account (very long story I don't feel like going into right now, but it ended with me having to start a new account), I am now officially on Goodreads. Check out my page, follow my reviews, add me as a friend, whatever you feel like. It's actually a pretty cool page. Now, I just need a lot of extra time to read all these awesome books I'm discovering. You can check out my page here.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

New and Improved 101 in 1001...

Some of you might remember I did a 101 in 1001 list a few years ago. That is 101 things I want to do or accomplish in the next 1001 days. After months of working on my list (and being too lazy to post it), I have an all new 101 in 1001 list for you. You can always check my progress by checking the tab at the top of my page (New and Improved 101 in 1001). I'm going to hopefully be better about updating you on how I'm doing on it. Here is my new list (for those too lazy to click on the link above): 

Places to Go, Things to See. 
1. Travel outside of the United States
2. Visit at least 7 of the 12 places in Texas that I've never been to before (click here for that list) (0/7)
3. Visit Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame)
4. Attend games at five MLB ballparks I’ve never been to before (0/5)

5. Visit three Presidential Libraries that I've never been to before (0/3)
6. Go to a George Strait concert
7. Take a cruise
8. Visit Hollywood

9. Visit three states I've never been to before (0/5)
10. Go see the London Bridge in Arizona
11. Visit a National Park that I’ve never been to before
12. Go snorkeling
13. Go to a Spurs game in San Antonio
14. Go to Las Vegas
15. Take a trip to the beach
16. Visit Nashville

Home is Where the Heart Is. 
17. Organize storage unit
18. Vacuum apartment weekly for a month
19. Keep apartment organized for a month 
20. Organize book shelves
21. Catalog all my baseball cards into an Excel spreadsheet
22. Complete scrapbook for college
23. Complete scrapbook for junior high/high school
24. Organize photo albums

25. Organize craft closet
26. Make clothing donation once a year to local charity (0/3)
27. Take books I'm not going to re-read to Half Price Books or library donation drop-off

Money, Money, Money. 
28. No impulse buys, unless I already have money saved up
29. Pay off personal loan
30. Pay off student loans
31. Pay off last credit card
32. Buy nothing but groceries for a month (meaning no shopping sprees)
33. Spend less than $50 a month eating out, three times (0/3)
34. Create a budget and stick to it
35. Tithe at least once a month to my church (0/33)

It’s Not Personal—It’s Just Business. 

36. Volunteer to work at my company's career conference
37. Actually attend company's career conference
38. Take a lunch break away from my desk twice a month (0/66)
39. Keep personal email inbox under 7 unread messages by end of day
40. Take some online classes offered by the company
41. Look into job postings in the public relations department
42. Volunteer at the annual company seminar
43. Clean desk average of once a month (0/33)
44. Volunteer for company's Habitat for Humanity team

No Pain, No Gain. 
45. No fast food for a week, 7 times (0/7)
46. No Dr Pepper for a week, 10 times (0/10)
47. No sweets for a week (not including sugarless gum), 4 times (0/4) 
48. Cook dinner at home every night for a week, 10 times (0/10)
49. Learn to cook 10 new meals
50. Try out 10 restaurants that I've never been to before (0/10)
51. Attend a dance workout class with a friend
52. Do 100 crunches 4 times a week for 6 consecutive weeks (0/6)
53. Take dancing lessons
54. Work out three times a week for 10 consecutive weeks (0/10)
55. Go on five hikes (0/5)
56. Go on 20 walks (0/20)

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. 
57. Read at least two new books per month (0/66)
58. Make one of #48 Jane Eyre (been trying to read it since 1994!)
59. Complete three group Bible Study courses (0/3)
60. Watch 25 new-to-me movies from the AFI top 100 list (10th Anniversary Edition) (0/25)
61. Read 15 books I haven’t read already off of the 50 Banned Books list (0/15)
62. Keep a prayer journal for two months
63. Attend a symphony
64. Write and post a book review on at least half of the books read from the Banned Books list

65. No TV for five consecutive days
66. Attend 7 musicals/plays I have never seen (0/7)
67. Spend a day at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History 
68. Spend the day at the Dallas Art Museum, listening to the audio for the permanent exhibits
69. Have a quiet time every day for 3 months (0/3)
70. No social media for a week

Do Unto Others… 
71. Leave an anonymous "you are doing a good job" card on a co-workers desk
72. Volunteer at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter.
73. Pay for the meal of the car behind me in a drive thru
74. Mail a friend an unexpected gift (non birthday or holiday related).
75. Make a sack lunch to give to a homeless person 
76. Make a monetary donation twice a year to a charity (doesn't have to be same charity)
77. Host a Girls Night Out at least 7 times (0/7)
78. Call someone I don't see on a regular basis
79. Give a generous tip for a job well done (restaurant, nail salon, or hair salon)
80. Have dinner with relatives that live in Dallas (that I don't see on a regular basis)
81. Treat a friend to a nice dinner (non birthday related)
82. Send 15 snail mail cards to friends (non holiday or birthday related) (0/15)

Just for Me. 
83. Go to a day spa
84. Treat myself to a manicure
85. Treat myself to a pedicure
86. Spend a day in bed resting
87. Set aside one night a month for "me time" (0/33)
88. Watch a sunrise
89. Watch a sunset
90. Treat myself to a Chick Fil-A milkshake once a month
91. Buy myself a nice gift twice a year (0/6)
92. Start practicing the piano again
93. Go horseback riding
94. Spend a weekend away from electronic devices
95. Update my blog at least once a week
96. Treat myself to a nice steak dinner twice (0/2)
97. Decide about getting a CHL.
98. Decide about getting an iPad

I’ve Loved These Days. 
99. Blog about met goals at least an average of once a month (0/33)
100. Create new 101 in 1001 days
101. Donate $1 to Special Olympics Texas for all items not accomplished