Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Reading..

In an earlier entry, I mentioned that one of my summer goals was to read at least one book per week, so I figured I'd make a running list here of those books so you can all squee with me over my progress, recc me more books and just hang out with me while I read. 


Not sure what I'll read next since I'm almost done with book six of the summer, but I'm sure I can find something when I wander into Barnes and Noble tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: In Honor

One of the books I had the chance to read over the last week or so (there's a bunch, why not read when you're stuck in bed with a broken foot?!) was In Honor by Jessi Kirby. It sounded amazing, something I could easily lose myself in and enjoy.

When I started reading - the first thing I felt were the tears. The opening scene of the book broke my heart - for Honor and because of my own recent loss that I'm still struggling with. It's something I still haven't really accepted, and to be honest - it hasn't really even sunk in.

So, here I was - sitting at the pool while the work kids did their swim practice tearing up while I read this book. I was sucked in almost right away, feeling everything Honor felt. I was right there with her, after all - it had been me just a few short months ago.

Honor is grieving her brother, Finn,  - he was killed in action as a Marine. The day he is buried, she opens a letter that he wrote to her. Inside, Honor discovers concert tickets and decides that this letter and these tickets are Finn's final wishes and a challenge to her.

She accepts the challenge.

Except - her brother's ex best friend, Rusty - decides to tag along. He's drunk and passes out in the car. Not what she expected, but Honor is on a mission for her brother and at this point, nothing will stop her. Not even stubborn, drunk Rusty.

The trip from Texas to California isn't easy on either of them. They're both grieving, both trying to cope with this tremendous loss and trying to figure out where to go from here. It isn't easy. It isn't even fun at some parts, but the two begin to become closer and with each other - they honor Finn's memory the best they can.

Every once in awhile, you're bound to pick up a book that will change you. Most of the time, you don't even know that it will when you pick it up and begin to read. This happened to me with In Honor - and the impact it has had on my life in these last few days is still something I'm in awe over.

I said earlier in this post that I could relate to Honor in terms of her grief and loss.

At the end of Feburary, my grandmother passed away suddenly (and very unexpectedly) from a massive heart attack. The phone rang at five in the morning and I knew that something was very wrong. That's the kind of thing you see in the movies - a dead of night phone call to break the worst news.

No one expected it. As soon as I got the news - I was numb, lost, and I felt cold.

I didn't know how to handle it - when my grandpa passed away in 2004, we knew it was coming because he had been sick for a very long time. When Nana passed away - no one expected it. In fact, she had just recently had a great check up with her cardiologist and all seemed well.

We had started to spend more time together, something that we hadn't done since I was a kid. Family outings to lunch or the local zoo, she made me a cloak because I had been wanting one for years. The last time I saw her was at the end of December at my mother's 50th birthday dinner/party.

As Honor took the words from her brother to heart and accepted the 'challenge', I began to realize while reading that there were things that I needed to do in my life. Things that I knew, deep down, Nana wanted me to accomplish and succeed - no matter how long it took or how hard they were.

One of them would be embracing the side of the family I never really got to know. It would mean putting aside past hurts, awkward and tense relationships. I was unsure and nervous and terrified. I knew she wanted this - and I also knew (deep down) that it would have been her death that brought us all together.

More often than not I have been angry. Angry that I didn't get more time with her over the last few months. Angry that we never got to have lunch together again as we had planned. Angry that she was gone and I'm still struggling to accept that fact.

Those few weeks before Nana's death were just as hard - my dad lost the house we grew up in to foreclosure. Two weeks later, Nana died. I'm struggling to get through and deal with some very complex emotions and "things" from my past while trying to live my life to the fullest. I'm wavering back and forth on repairing an old, broken friendship - wondering if it is the right thing to do at the right time.

These last few months have not been easy at all. They've been rocky - full of emotion, exhaustion and a lot of change all at once.

After I finished reading In Honor, I realized that I am going to be okay. Things will get better. I also realized there are a few things I need to do to honor the memory of my grandmother - things she always encouraged me to do and things I never got around to. Now I am, because after reading this story - I have to.

I'm going to learn to drive and I'm going to work hard to earn my GED.  These are the two things that she wanted me to do. She wanted me to do well in life and no matter what, she was always there to support and encourage me.

Just like Honor experiences - it isn't an easy journey to take, but no matter what - we should honor the ones we love, as hard as it is. And we have to remember that they are always with us.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some good and bad news.

Okay, so. Bad news first.

Unfortunately, I have had to make the decision to postpone the readathon until the end of the month. I hated to do it, but I realized this week that I need to. I completely overdid it this week in terms of being up and moving on my foot and got a really bad case of sun poisoning rash (in other words, a very very bad sunburn) and really just need to use the next couple weeks I have off to not do anything but rest.

The good news?

I'm still going to the readathon, the dates will just be at the end of the month! I also hope that by doing this I can get more people interested and involved and really be up and doing better myself so I can host this thing properly and not fall over.

Like I said, I hated making this choice but I need to take care of myself and get better first.

In other news, I've challenged myself to read at least a book a week and I've done pretty well on that so far. It was nice to be able to sit back and read while I've been stuck in bed (which I still am pretty much because of the extent of the swelling).

I'm gonna work on getting a couple reviews up this week depending on how the foot is feeling and if I feel well enough to hobble out of bed to my desk.

Tell me what you're reading or what you've recently read! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Very First...

ARC came in the mail yesterday!

I entered some giveaways on GoodReads and this was the first one that I EVER won, and my first ARC. I'm really excited and if I could have been jumping up and down when it arrived last night, I would have been.

With plenty of time at the pool this week for work (I can't swim with the foot problem), I plan to sit down and start reading this as soon as I can. I planned to today but I never got that far with trying to get into a routine for this week.

I'm so excited to have my first giveaway win and ARC.

With work being so hectic this week, I'll try to finish a book or two in my free time and get a couple more reviews up, I just have to get through Friday and then I'm off work for a couple of weeks ... woohoo!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Magic's Pawn, the book that changed my life.

Time after time, there is a single book that I will go back to re-read and lose myself in. That hasn't changed in the last ten years or so since the first time I got my hands on the book. In many ways, Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey changed my life.

It was the first fantasy story I read. It was the book that made me cry like a baby, ache all over from heartbreak, hope against home and yes, dare to dream. This book spoke to me on so many levels and more than that - it taught me so much about myself

I was a teenager at the time and I had just started to branch off into wanting to read something other than Star Wars novels - and after some searching online and through the piles of books my father had around the house, I came across this book.

I can still remember the feeling of excitement flooding through me the moment I had it in my hands after I pulled it out from the shelf above my dad's bed. I held it tight and raced down the hallway and curled up in my bed to read.

From the first page, I was hooked. I was drawn into an entirely new world, a world I could clearly picture in my head as I read - and I began to connect with the main character, Vanyel, on a level I had never connected to a character before.

His story pulled me into a vast new world where I could see clearly that he was struggling - just as I was, to figure out who he was. He was struggling to break out of the rules and expectations he had grown up, and he was struggling to find out where be belonged as a young adult.

It isn't until he leaves his home to stay with his Aunt Savil, that his life begins to change in many ways. The biggest being his bond with the charming 'Lendel (who stole my heart just as quickly as Vanyel did, to be perfectly honest). 

We see their friendship begin to form - 'Lendel slowly beings to coax Vanyel out of his shell and Vanyel begins to drop his walls that he had so carefully built up to protect himself. We see their friendship begin to grow into something more - and the night they are together - let me tell you, my heart melted.

'Lendel is now getting to know the real Vanyel, just as we are.

Unexpected tragedies strike.

Somehow, Vanyel pulls through - but it isn't an easy road. He fights it. He's lost. He's heart broken, damaged beyond belief and doesn't know how to live his life - a life he had just thought he had put back together once he had his 'Lendel.

It was this single quote that hit me with a ton of bricks, and there have been countless times over the last ten years that I've come back to this quote:

“The great love is gone. There are still little loves - friend to friend, brother to sister, student to teacher. Will you deny yourself comfort at the hearthfire of a cottage because you may no longer sit by the fireplace of a palace? Will you deny yourself to those who reach out to you in hopes of warming themselves at your hearthfire?”

Vanyel, in every way, is struggling to put the pieces of his life back together. Not only is he grieving and lost - but now he's faced with the fact that he's got this immense power he has to learn to control, another burden that he has to handle. One that at first, he isn't sure he even wants to handle - because it is the same kind of power that stole the life he was beginning to know from him.

We see Vanyel being to harness his power, and learn to live this new life he has ahead of him. We see him pick up the pieces as hard as it is and live. He lives to the fullest extent possible, and the ending of this book only proves that no matter what you face and go through - you can still make it out on top. 

There are so many things I can say about this quote, but I want to leave you with this:

No matter what happens, no matter what kind of heartbreak or loss you face, you can still learn to love again. It hurts, it does, I've been there. I'm still healing - but there's always the "little loves" - your friends, your family - you can't lock yourself away and refuse to love again. When you do that - you begin to lose yourself.

When you begin to lose yourself, you run the risk of never being able to open yourself up to love again - and with love, anything is possible.

The Kickback and Relax Read-a-Thon!

I mentioned in my first post that I had something fun planned to celebrate the start of my new book blog, and here is the post I promised!

In order to celebrate my brand new blog, what better way than to kick back, relax and read with a read-a-thon?! We all love to read, it's summer and we can all use the time to relax and dive into as many books as we can get our hands on.

Besides, if you're like me - you've got a stack you want to get through this summer!

Starting June 29, 2012 through  July 6, I'm inviting you to pile up a stack of books, grab some snacks and read! 

Here is where you come in - I want you (yes, you!) to join me in this ten day read-a-thon. I want you tell me what you read, what your goal number is and hang out here and chat with me about the books you're reading.

Each day I'll post an entry inviting you to tell us what you're reading, what you're enjoying about the book (or on the flip side, not enjoying about the book) and to just hang out and relax. I'll also ask you to give us an update on the goal you've set.

So, who is in this with me? Leave a comment with a link to your blog, say hello, set yourself a goal number and settle in to hang out!

I'll make another entry for this shortly where I'll post links to everyone who is participating and open up a little discussion so we can get to know each other, talk about our goals, etc. 

I'm really looking forward to this and I hope you are, too!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Introducing.... Twirly!

After quite a few nudges from friends, I've finally decided to jump on in to the book blogging world. It's something I've been wanting to do for months now - but admittedly, life got (hectic) and in the way. Between a full course load semester, an unexpected move, stuff going on in the family... I never got around to it.

Until now, and I couldn't be more excited.

And besides - what better way to start it than sitting around with a broken foot?! I'm restless and feeling like I need to do something, so here I am!

I am a twenty seven year old northern California native. I've been here my entire life, and as much as I'd love to move away - I honestly don't think I ever will. This is what I know, I've found a nice spot in a quiet part of town, my friends and family are here and well, it's home.

The perks of living here are pretty simple - just hours away from both the ocean and the mountains, plenty of neat places to check out (I'm a couple of hours away from San Francisco!), friends and family galore and plenty of bookstores to spend my time (and money) in. It doesn't get much better than that - and for the most part, we've got decent weather.

I'm a full time student at a local college where I'm studying Early Childhood Education to become a pre-school teacher, but also working on my requirements for a Nursing program. I figure I can put what I've learned in my ECE courses to use in Nursing and make it work. I'm all about being able to help people and with nursing, I know I'll be able to do just that and continue to work with kids.

Speaking of working with kids - I've been working as a nanny for three girls in the area for the last five years. It is exhausting, but it is so rewarding. The last five years have taught me so much about life, kids, families and about myself. I've really come out of my shell and this job is really what made me go into ECE as a career because I realized just how much I adore working with kids and their families. It's just breathtaking, rewarding and a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun adventures together and I couldn't ask for a better job or a better work family.

I'm also a blogger over at The Hob where I get to indulge in another huge passion of mine... The Hunger Games! The series as a whole changed my life and being able to work with such an amazing team is something that brightens my day up. We have a lot of fun and being able to write about one of my favorite things? Can't beat that! We're all anxiously gearing up for the start of Catching Fire to start filming and all the casting announcements.. love it!

I'm also an avid reader, which is really why I started this blog. In the summer all I do is read (it helps that I get a good chunk of time off to do that) and make up for whatever I miss during the school year (because lets face it, reading on top of a full course load? NOT EASY). I come from a family of bookworms - my mother, my father, my aunt and my grandmothers. We all read, between all of us - there's too many books (if there is such a thing).

What do I read?

A little of everything. The Twilight Saga got me into the entire young adult genre and after reading books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, I am hooked.  I also read stacks of paranormal romance (J.R. Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, etc). I am always looking for new things to read - I just started reading a bunch of YA contemporary novels and I'm just as hooked on those as I am the dystopian novels. I'm easy to please when it comes to reading, believe me. Hand me a book and I'm a happy girl.

I wanted to start blogging to connect with other readers, to expand my reading horizons and just have a good time. And let's face it - there's never enough books to read even though you have a growing stack of books by your bed or on your e-reader - that's part of the fun!

Getting to know other bloggers and creating new friendships is something I am really excited about by starting this blog in addition to all the fun things I'll be able to learn about and read - so please, don't be shy about coming over and saying hi! I'm really easy going and love to meet new people. You'll find links to my TwitterFacebook and GoodReads account around here, too. Please feel free to add me and say hi, I'm always around to chat! 

Not only am I kick starting this blog, but I'm celebrating by hosting something very fun, which I'll post details to very, very soon so keep your eyes out!