Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
Source: Swoon Reads

Goodreads Summary:

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. 

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

My Thoughts:

This book sat on my shelf for months, until the other night when I was blessed by a case of insomnia. Wandering the house, looking for something lighthearted to sink into, I saw this on the bookcase, grabbed it, and retreated back to my bed. Where I proceeded to read this book cover to cover.

A Little Something Different is a YA book, a simple little book really, not too complex or crazy. Just fun and easy breezy. It is written from 14 multiple viewpoints, which seems like it could be annoying, but it really wasn't. Interestingly enough, the one point of view missing was that of the main character Lea, and it didn't seem to matter. We see her through the eyes of many different people, and in some cases, non-people; these points of view are enough to give the reader a clear picture of the character. Were some of the character a little flat? Yeah, I would say so. There just wasn't enough material for each character to be given a chance to grow or be expansive. Were some of the characters unlikable? Yes - in my opinion the college professor was the worst! She was a catalyst for movement in the plot, but at the same time I couldn't get behind some of her actions. She is one of the few adult points of view, yet she behaved questionably a few times, in my opinion.

Overall though, I found this book to be enjoyable. It was perfect for the moment I was in, needing something light and fluffy to read. I wouldn't read this book expecting big things - it is more of a sweet little read, quick, easy, and fun.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Sunday/Monday Update!

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

I have been really enjoying working with students again! While I miss my old job sometimes, subbing is working out much better for the "right now"of my life. The husband and I haven't been out much lately, focusing mainly on getting stuff ready at the house and doing what needs to be done, which carries with it its own sense of accomplishment and actually, fun as well. I am going to drag him out next weekend though ~ the man just works too hard! 

Thanks for all the comments regarding cable last week! We went ahead and cut the cord, and knocked our plan down to basic. So far it doesn't seem too bad, although I am desperately missing the end of Top Chef!!! I am pretty sure I can watch it online though, I just need to figure that out.

Read Last Week:

My reading habits have been a little erratic lately ~ a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I did manage to finish  two books though! 


Baby Bliss by Dr. Harvey Karp: Apparently this guy also did The Happiest Baby on the Block~ I think this is the exact same thing, just in different packaging. It was pretty interesting! Review soon.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall: I read this one night when I couldn't sleep~ I just had too much on my mind, go figure! Lol. This book was a super easy, lighthearted read. I enjoyed it although it was just a super simple story. It did have like 14 different points of view it was written from, and none of them was POV of the main character- which was a little something different! Review soon.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: This book is really good - but a little slow for me right now. It's not grabbing me and making me read it, but I don't mind going back to it here and there and reading a little at a time. I never read a book this way, so this is a new and different reading experience!

The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier: This book is cute, but I can't figure out where it is going yet. I will keep reading it, probably in the same way I am reading The Little Paris Bookshop. 

Reading This Week:


Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler: From NetGalley. I am so excited to read this book! I loved Shotgun Lovesongs and this sounds really good as well!

I'm a Mom! Now What? by Susan Laurent: Yeah, these books will be trickling in. It has come to my attention I have no clue about babies. In fact, my husband is much more baby savvy, so I lucked out there! I know these books can't really prepare me totally, but until a few months ago I wasn't sure if a newborn sat in a high chair. Lol. 


I found House Hunters International on Netflix and can't stop watching! Does anyone else watch this? What I can't get over is how people want to move to a new culture yet want it to remain exactly like they are in America! It drives me crazy! Lol. We are also watching Parks and Recreation as well as assorted network television shows, mostly CW. 

Posted Last Week:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Gardening with Art (my Uncle Art, that is!)

My Uncle Art and I have a tradition: every January we meet one weekend morning, drink coffee, eat pastries, and pore over our new seed catalogs together. Some years we plan our gardens together, and split the costs of seeds. Other years we veer off course, each going our own way in our garden planning. This year is going to be one of those years. 

Last Sunday, I braved the icy cold Michigan weather, stopped for a Cafe Mocha from Tim Hortons, a current addiction, and while I was at it, picked up a few doughnuts too, including my favorite, the chocolate dip. I had my few catalogs of choice with me, and when I arrived, my uncle was waiting for me at the dining room table surrounded by his lists and catalogs. My aunt was just pulling her homemade scones from the oven , and the tea kettle was rattling away on the stove top. There is nothing like a cozy morning, thinking about spring and budding plants and sunshine, when the sky is gray and snow is piled up on the ground outside.You almost feel like you are getting away with something, by skipping the gray and daydreaming of bright arrays of colors and fresh warm fruit and veggies from your garden.

I had two catalogs with me- one from Botanical Interests, another from Baker Seeds, which is full of rare heirloom seeds. I love to sit and flip through this one, and can look at it for hours really- it is so full of old varieties that are weird and so different than what I usually see, plus the descriptions are pretty amazing too. This year though, I am doing a scaled back garden. I am due in April and don't foresee having a huge amount of time to spend in the garden this year. I chose to limit what I am ordering, and am going strictly with my choices from Botanical Interests this year. I am a bit of a nutter about GMOs, and that is one reason I like this company as well - no GMOs. Plus, they have a ton of heirloom varieties, which thrills the historian in me. I think it is pretty cool to grow something that has been around for generations!

Doesn't this just scream spring?

After a good bit of discussion with my uncle, who grew up on a farm in Canada and has a humongous garden which is even more awesome when you realize he is 70 plus years old, I decided on: a trellis of sugar snap peas and lima beans, a favorite of my husband's; a bed of strawberries, because there is seriously nothing better than eating a freshly picked strawberry, warm from the summer sun; a huge bed of free ranging herbs; and my favorite of all, a very small pumpkin patch! I am going for two varieties, one that is good for Jack O'Lanterns and another all white kind of pumpkin. I just think it would be such a fun photo op for our son! He will be only 6 months old in October, so I am not sure if he will be able to sit up or not, but if not, we will still carve his first pumpkin for him from our garden. Plus we can take his picture anyway, with one of us holding him, or even all three of us in our modest pumpkin patch. I am pretty excited about all this can you tell? 

My uncle is doing a giant garden again this year, and soon we will be getting together to start our seeds. I love this tradition with my uncle. I am the only one thus far who shares his love of the dirt and the satisfaction of eating something you have grown yourself. Maybe this is something my son will enjoy one day as well. Our catalog planning session is a day I look forward to all year, especially once winter sets in when we are bundled against the cold and dreaming of the spring . 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two Short Reviews: Station Eleven and Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Source: Library

I really enjoyed this book! As a Michigander, I of course loved that it was set in my state, although that is not a main reason I liked the book. I thought the premise was pretty interesting~ dystopia that cares about the arts. In a world that needs all your wits just to survive, being devoted to music or literature would usually fall to the wayside. But in Mandel's book, it is a focal point, as a troop of musicians and thespians travel from town to town performing Shakespeare. I did have a few issues with the book however. I found some of the flashbacks slow, long and just unnecessary, while wanting more about what the characters endured just after the fall of society. What brought them to the present day? How did they end up where they are now? I would have liked more of their world after things went to hell, and less of the flashbacks from before. Otherwise, I really liked this book.

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Source: Christmas gift

This is the third book in the Raven Cycle series, which I love. My husband is also a huge fan of this series. If fans thought they were finally going to get the Adam book they have been wanting, I hate to spoil things, but this isn't it. I was pretty sad too, I am so ready for an Adam book! I guess I should have known from the name though. Lol. I think these characters are the best Steifvater has written; even the minor characters who show up in this book are amazing, causing you to really care about them right away. They just endear themselves to you. The gang also gets further in their quest for Glendower, although to me, that central plot is less interesting than the small, personal things the characters are going through. I can't wait for the next book in the series, and I can't believe I have to wait all over again to find out what happens next!

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

This week is going to be a repeat of what I was supposed to read last week. I am still waiting on one to come in from the library, although I think it got stuck in transit. I cancelled the hold and started a new one, just in case. So now hopefully, it will actually come in. Last week was super busy for me - I started subbing and I am not used to really working outside of the house. I came home on the days I worked and just crashed out, and in the case of one job where I had to get up at an ungodly hour, took a huge nap the next day too. I think I am getting used to it though now, and am getting smarter about which jobs I accept right now.

Read Last Week:


A Rough Guide to the Heart by Pam Houston: I love Pam Houston. She writes the most heartbreaking, beautiful essays. I had forgotten I had ordered this book when it surprised me by arriving last week. I immediately started reading, to realize, I can't read her while pregnant! Some of her essays make me sob on a regular day. Add hormones to the mix and it was a horror show. I will have to wait to finish this book, although I do love her work.

Reading this week:


The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: I started this last week, and have really enjoyed what I have read so far!

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado: I am starting this book as well. I am sure I will take it slowly due to the material, but I read an essay from it that was really well done.

The One Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier: I chose this based on the cover.  

And of course, if that elusive book that will not be named finds its way to me, I will read that and not start a few of these others.

Posted Last Week:


My husband and I are toying with the idea of cutting our cable plan to basic and relying on Hulu Plus and Netflix. Has anyone else done that? I really wish you could pick and choose your channels, a la carte style. Anyway, we started watching Vikings, which I was reluctant to watch and now I love, and also 30 Rock, which I find hilarious!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Week of Pinterest Meals

I don't talk about food much here, with the exception of mentioning restaurants we have eaten at. However, last week, feeling so tired of making the same things all the time, and needing a new infusion of recipes, I decided I would find a Pinterest food recipe for just about everyday and stick to the plan. This is hard because sometimes my pregnant self really doesn't always want what I have planned days in advance, but I made it work. I felt like too, I was introducing new flavors and tastes to the baby, because I read that at this point in his development, he can actually taste and smell the food I am eating, which is so crazy to think about!

Here are the recipes we made, with my thoughts on them. Bear in mind I am a vegetarian. Also, I didn't take photos of our recreations, due to my taking horrible photos of food. I just can't do it, they all turn out horrid, so all photos are from the blog the recipe came from.


This was amazingly good! It was also fast and relatively easy. I wouldn't be put off from it by fear of it being risotto; it was actually much easier  to cook than people make it sound. It was delicious, and we will definitely make it again. 


Another winner in our books! Easy, fast, nutritious, delicious. Vegetarian and low carb, and protein from the cheese and eggs!


This was something I have actually had once before, but hadn't actually made myself. I think it is my favorite thing that I made all week! It was hearty, flavorful, thick, creamy, and perfect for the horrible cold weather we are having. It was even better the next day, I just added a cup of broth to thin it back out! Again, this made our permanent list of winter recipes.

Friday night we cheated and went out to dinner, but we did make Pinterest food for breakfast on Saturday.

Saturday Morning:

This was awesome!! We liked it so much, we actually made it again, this time for a quick dinner on Monday, and what we didn't finish, my husband has packed up and taken with him to work to warm up as breakfast when he gets there. It was fast, cheap, filling, and warm. Another win!

Overall, the week went very well, and we really enjoyed everything we made. Most of the recipes did not involve many ingredients, and therefore the cost in making them was low as well.  My husband and I are just your average home cooks, and everything was easy to prepare, another plus. 

This was an experiment we will definitely try again!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Southern Lit Challenge

I love this challenge! I didn't participate last year, and I really missed it, so I am not going to let this year go by without signing up. I am a huge fan of southern lit - it's the wannabe southerner in my blood. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

Read Last Week:


First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen: Loved!!!! 

Let It Snow by John Green, etc; This was a reread, and I enjoyed it all over again.

Reading This Week:


Posted Last Week:

Friday, January 9, 2015


This week has been arctically cold, with sub-zero temps reaching into the -20s with windchill. These are the types of weeks that I can usually be found under a pile of blankets, reading long into the day, being lazy and staying warm. But not this week. This week I have been a flurry of activity, as I take advantage of the weather forcing me to stay put, and I have been preparing our home for the baby that will be here before we know it. There is only so much I can do while my husband is at work, and the poor guy has been coming home to bags and boxes of items that I am donating, plastic containers full of things that need to go into storage, like my clothes that I can no longer wear, and boxes of books. I realized that I am going to need to cut my book collection down by at least half. I decided to have fun with it, and invited my reader friends over to check out the books for giveaway and to take what they want - they just need to bring their own bags. The forecast for tomorrow is like end of the world cold, so I hope some of them brave the temps for books! Pretty soon we will be getting the baby's room all ready for him~ I am so excited to see it all come together!

With all of this cold weather and snow, my bird feeders have been attracting a lot of attention. My good husband filled them for me yesterday, but I need to go out today before the temps drop to refill them again. My regular visitors include sparrows, bright colored cardinals, swiftly darting black capped chickadees, the tuxedo clad dark eyed juncos, and the occasional loud blue jay. I find it so peaceful to just watch them, from my warm spot on the couch, cup of tea in hand in the morning. I can't wait to introduce my son to the world of nature, and to look for birds with him. I figure if I can get him hooked when he is young I am set! Lol.

We also ordered our baby shower invites! The one pictured is the one we are using, although that is the sample from the Etsy store website. I highly recommend MyExpressionInvites if you are looking for invitations for a particular event. Turn around time for the design was less than 24 hours, and you can either choose to print them yourself or utilize the store's printing services. We chose to do it ourselves, as my husband works for a company that actually does mailings and printings, so we only paid for the invite, which was very reasonably priced! Our shower is going to be a wintry forest type theme as it is in February, and I thought this invite was perfect and adorable! Plus I just really love foxes. 

I hope wherever today finds you that you are safe, warm and happy! Or safe, cool, and happy if that works better for you!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

First Book of the Year: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: First Frost
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begin.

My thoughts:

I was waiting this year, for a book I really wanted to read to be my first read of the year. My patience paid off because NetGalley approved me for First Frost, which is probably the book I most wanted to read of them all! I was a little book starved by the time I read it, and I devoured it. I probably would have anyway, as this book was amazing!!

The time before the first frost is a time of wild restlessness for the Waverley family, a time where anything can happen. The apple tree is dormant, and there is a sense of tension, of waiting, of what is waiting around the corner. It's ten year later, and when we meet up with Claire, she has gone into the commercial candy making business; Bay is her after school assistant, Sydney is running her beauty parlor, and her hair is getting redder on its own by the day. All three are experiencing the unsettledness of the time before first frost, which has been forecast for Halloween, much later than normal. To make things even more uneasy, there is a lurking stranger in town who seems to be overly interested in the Waverleys.

I enjoyed reading about the issues plaguing the family in this book, and how they found their way out of them. It is a book about family, forgiveness and acceptance, about trust and love.  I loved every word and moment in this book, the magic and the history, the wonder and the normal everyday simple moments, such as a home cooked family dinner. Definitely a five star reading experience for me! I sincerely hope there is another book planned for this family!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year! I know that I have been enjoying some quiet time with my husband the past few days, and it has been amazing. 

I also managed to read a few books!

Read Last Week(ish):

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: This book was really good!! I have to admit, I found some parts of it super slow, like some of the flashbacks, but overall, I really did enjoy this book. And how cool that it took place in Michigan!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: I finished! I am so proud. Lol. My first Dickens. I feel that this was an easy one to break me in though.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: This was a gift from my husband for Christmas- I love this series, and this book was no exception. 

Reading This Week:

I am having a hard time landing on a first book of the year! The problem is that I am waiting on a bunch of holds from the library. So, whatever I read will be one of these: 


Us by David Nicholls: This is our book club read for December. I have been waiting and waiting for it. 

My True Love Gave to Me by assorted authors: I have to admit, this is the one I want to read most. I saw it on Bits and Bobs and knew I had to read it!

The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless: I have a feeling this will be sad.

Posted in the Last Week or Two:


Ensconced in our bubble, we have been watching The Originals. We are fans of The Vampire Diaries, but The Originals is even better! We finished the first season, and are bummed that we can't get the second season streaming!! We also watched The Big Year, and went to see The Hobbit, which was good but I felt it was a little long. Plus it made me cry. We are hoping to see Wild today, before the arctic cold slinks in to the area.

A Peaceful Start to the New Year

The holidays were such a rush of activity, and my husband's work schedule was actually a bit relentless, so when New Year's Eve rolled around, we opted for simplicity, and a slower kind of a night. We kicked the evening off with dinner with my brother and his wife, stopped by my cousin's for an hour, then pretty much stayed home in our pajamas watching television until the ball dropped, where the two of us ushered in the new year together. It was a quiet way to celebrate, but it was exactly what we wanted, and also what we needed.

New Year's Day for me is always an intentional day - I feel on some level what you do sets the tone for the year. Billy and I had planned on taking a short hike around our favorite metropark, but the weather was so bitter cold that we ended up driving around a few instead. We were rewarded with some beautiful views, a herd of deer, and an eagle soaring low above our heads. Afterwards, we made dinner - he made a southern good luck dinner complete with cornbread (he seriously makes the best ever cornbread), and I made a vegetable soup. We ended the evening watching one of my favorite movies, The Big Year.

The second day of the year we enjoyed the same sense of deliberation and ease. Billy had managed to get a day off work besides New Year's Day, so we had a wonderful long weekend planned. We began Friday with breakfast at this newish diner in Detroit, called Rose's Fine Food. It was huge on charm and personality, and my pancakes were delicious! Billy wasn't as thrilled with his choice, but is willing to give the place another shot. One cool thing about this restaurant: the servers all make a living wage and gratuity isn't necessary. If you do choose to leave a tip, it goes to a Detroit charity.

We took a post-breakfast drive around Belle Isle, one of my favorite places ever, to look for birds, then headed home to be lazy for a few hours before joining two of our friends for dinner.

 All in all, it was a perfect way to break in the new year - minus the harried rush of Christmas. It was about spending time in nature, trying new restaurants and most of all, spending quality time together, without an agenda or schedule to be stuck too. That will come soon enough, on Monday when we head back to reality. But until then we are going to remain in our cocoon of calm, and maybe then when Monday comes, we will be ready to face the crazy again, but this time with a little more peace and tranquility in our demeanor, that will carry us through the week, and hopefully, maintain the same the sort of attitude through this year.