Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Secret Year, by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Wow, another book review! This is very unlike me. But I had put The Secret Year, by Jennifer R. Hubbard on hold at the library and it finally came in. I have been wanting to read it ever since I first read about it from Nathan Bransford's blog and was super excited to read it right away!

From the book jacket:

Colt was with Julia for a year, but nobody else knew about it. Julia lived on Black Mountain Road in a mansion - with servants - and had a country-club boyfriend to complete the package. Colt definitely didn't come from Black Mountain, and no one would have understood why they were together. But it never mattered to them. Until Julia dies in an accident right before her senior year, and Colt is suddenly the only one who knows their secret. He tries to pretend that his life is the same as ever, but he's haunted by memories of Julia. Things get worse after the journal she kept about their romance falls into his hands. Colt searches every entry for answers: Did Julia really love him? Was he somehow to blame for her death? But the ultimate question - one nobody can answer - is how he's supposed to get over someone who was never really his to begin with.

I fell for the plot immediately! It was juicy and tragic and intriguing. At 192 pages, it was a rather short book and I finished it fairly quickly. I enjoy yound adult books, but I would have preferred for this to be longer.

I had thought that there would be a lot of Julia's journal entries, but there were only a handful that were shared. The meat of the story wasn't so much the relationship that Colt had with Julia, but the social divide between the two and the way he deals with his grief over a relationship that was meant to stay secret.

I have a problem that when I start a book, I already have some preempted ideas about who I am supposed to like and dislike. I felt like I was supposed to like Julia, the poor little rich girl who loves her guy from the wrong side of the tracks (the wrong part of Black Mountain in this case), but is forced by high school's social hierarchy to stay with the guy that was "approved" to be with her. So it surprised me that I didn't like Julia the more I read. I came to realize, however, that Julia was never meant to be an exception to the popular rich girl rule; Julia was getting her hands dirty, toying with something new. Despite all her promises (which I am sure she had meant to keep), her upbringing would always steer her into the path that was paved for her. Colt never stood a chance.

I have to say that this is another book that I very much enjoyed. I loved the way Hubbard was able to smoothly transition between the present and the past. Something I have yet to master with my own book. I think she fully grasped the way that teens are today and the decisions they are faced with every day.

If you enjoy young adult books about forbidden loves, this should be on your list to read. 

P.S. My next book review won't be for a while since the current book that I am reading is a little over 600 pages!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weigh-In Wednesday

Alright, so my weight gain last week wasn't all Aunt Flo's fault. I had gained weight overall, but I am down from last week. I am down 2.2 lbs. I have been so good today, having eaten a banana for breakfast, half of a very genetically altered large fuji apple, and half of a taco salad for lunch. Ok, fine, I will also come clean about my can of Coke that I guzzled at lunchtime too.

That's all I have to say for this Weigh-In Wednesday. Hopefully my morning walks/jogs will make a difference by next Wednesday.

Current Weight: 207.2 lbs.
Overall Weight-Loss: 22.8 lbs.

Random Bella Moment:
John was very generous for my birthday last year and gave me a super cute pink netbook. I was putting it on top of my dresser when it lost balance and fell onto the floor with a loud crash! It was heard throughout the house and it didn't help that I screamed "Noooooo!!!" Naturally John yells up, "What was that?"

After I unconvincingly responded with, "Nothing!"

Bella yells back, "Mommy's computer!"

Thanks for keeping me honest kid.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Godmother, by Carrie Adams

Image courtesy of Trashionista
I was in Target (or for you bourgeoisie, Targé) about a year ago and decide to browse their discounted books. Being the superficial girl that I am, I picked up The Godmother, by Carrie Adams because of its pretty cover. Sadly, this is how I meet a lot of my favorite books, their covers.

I admit it: I judge a book by its cover.

Anyway, I hadn’t heard of The Godmother before, but I liked the plot and so I bought the book. And it has since sat under my nightstand, collecting dust along with other unread titles like Wicked, Audition, and The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank. I enjoy reading and find inspiration for my own writing when I am reading. But I read in phases; sometimes I am so into reading that I will read more than one book at a time and then other times a good six months can pass without one single published word read as life just gets in the way.

Since I wasn’t going to the gym anymore, I found that I had more time on my hands. I decided to fill that extra time with The Godmother.

According to Publishers Weekly:

While 30-something Londoner Tessa King questions her no-strings-attached lifestyle, she also witnesses her friends' difficulties in marriage and parenthood while playing godmother to their broods. Nick and Francesca battle to keep their sullen teenager out of serious trouble; Billy, a single mom, can't break ties to her now remarried ex-; Helen and Neil, fairy tale parents to twin boys, are hiding something; successful Claudia and Al struggle to conceive; and Ben and Sasha have no plans to have children. But Ben also happens to be Tessa's best friend, and perhaps the love of her life. When tragedy eventually strikes the group, bonds are tested, and Tessa is forced to re-examine what she thinks will really make her happy. A painful look into the fears, doubts and desires that make and break marriages, this debut novel from Londoner Adams is notches up from the usual chick and mom lit fare.

I have to agree with PW. I really enjoyed reading this book. So much so that I read the last few pages when I was only 2/3 through the book because I was so impatient to find out what happens!

Tessa King is the godmother to four children, with the possibility of another godchild on the way. She is the single friend, the Bridget Jones, of the group. Her married friends envy her carefree lifestyle while Tessa craves their familial homes. The grass is always greener, right?

Slowly, Tessa learns that perfect couple/parents, Francesca and Nick, didn’t come to their current state of blissful chaos with ease. There were bumps and major hurdles to get through.

Childhood friends turned sweethearts, Claudia and Al, may not get the family of their dreams after numerous attempts at fertility treatments.

Beautiful, exotic Helen’s marriage to D-List celebrity Neil is just as tumultuous and scandalous as the typical tabloid couple.

What happened with Ben in the past, well nearly happened, should probably stay in the past.

Normally, I like a book to end with a perfect bow wrapping up the story. That was not necessarily the case here. The subplots that needed to be wrapped up were, but Tessa’s didn’t quite end with a “happily ever after”. But you know what? The ending was perfect for the story.

Phew! You still reading? Hopefully not all of my book reviews will be this long.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back to the Grind

Normally, I set my alarm for 6:00. I shower at night, so it takes me about 45 minutes to get ready.

For the last three weeks, I have set my alarm at 5:00 am with the intention of walking on my treadmill for thirty minutes and then having enough time to shower right afterward.

For the last three weeks I have hit the snooze button until 5:45.

But today? Today was a success! I woke up at 5:00 (ok, fine, I hit the snooze button but ended up feeling super guilty so I was up at 5:07) stretched out my hip and started a brisk walk at a 2 incline. I was feeling so good that I decided to jog for two minutes. I haven't done any running in months because of my hip, so I really was surprised that I could jog for a measly two minutes. I probably could've gone longer, but I need to do this in baby steps. I don't want my hip to start hurting again.

My plan: I figure that I am young enough that I should be able to get to bed around 10:30 or 11:00 and still be able to wake up at 5:00 am. A woman at my work goes to bed around 9:30 or 10:00 then wakes up at 4:00 am! And she is twice my age! Well, maybe not quite twice my age, but older. Damn, I think I just inadvertently insulted her. Oh well, she doesn't read my blog.

Now, if only I wouldn't allow myself to get sucked into those Jersey Shore kids until midnight on weekdays...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weigh-In Wednesday

I shall keep it short and simple. This was not a good weigh-in (warning: TMI coming up!) and I would like to blame Aunt Flo for this one since she is visiting me this week.

I have tickets to the Usher concert in November. I am hoping this will encourage me to lose some weight so I can get all kinds of cute for him!

Current Weight: 209.4 lbs.

Random Bella Moment:
Bella: Mommy, I am all done with my sandwich.
Me: Good job!
Bella: I'm still hungry, Mommy.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry. Would you like some water?
Bella: Mommy, hungry means food.

Thanks for setting me straight, Bella! Mommy sure does have a lot to learn.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In the Heights

Lauren and I have again bought season tickets to The 5th Avenue Theatre. This is our second year as season ticket holders and one of Lauren's college roommates, Fernanda, decided to join us this year. The more the merrier!

We went to our first play of the season last night, "In the Heights". Per The 5th Ave's website:

"...In the Heights tells a universal story set in Manhattan's Washington Heights – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It's a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind."

I honestly don't know much about Broadway plays and have never heard of this Tony Award winning one. The synopsis made me interested in it and then positive reviews started pouring in, which got me excited!

The set was intricate and amazing. It really held my attention and kept my eyes moving while we were waiting for the play to start. Then Graffitti Pete break-danced onto the scene and I turned to Lauren and said, "I can already tell I am going to love this play."

The play was about Washington Heights, a low income, largely Latino-based community in New York. The main character, Usnavi (pronounced oo-snah-vee), was the name his parents picked when they were immigrating to America and saw a ship pass with the name of "U.S. Navy." Oh how witty! The entire play had fun little moments like that.

The other thing that really pulled me in was the music. I was surprised how urban it all was; Usnavi did very little singing and rapped the majority of the time. The singing itself isn't what Broadway goers are used to either. Instead of the usual sing-acting (as I like to call the traditional Broadway belting), the actors sang songs that are easily radio friendly. Their naturally strong, melodic voices rang through the entire theatre. It was the type of singing that gives me goosebumps!

"In the Heights" was full of characters with large personalities (think Gloria from "Modern Family"), even bigger voices, and a beautiful set to match the terrific music. I don't normally buy soundtracks to musicals, but this is definitely one to own.

This really was a wonderful play to open up the 2010/2011 season and I can't wait for more!

I never wear dresses, but I wore one to the play last night. I now remember why I don't wear dresses. I felt like I forgot my pants.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I won!

No, not the lottery.

No, not a literary agent.

No, not my battle with weight (yet!).

I have won immortality!!! Muah-ha-ha-ha!

Well, kind of.

I helped name the Thursday title posts for Melissa! Yay me. Ok, ok, so I didn't win a trophy, but I really was genuinely excited to see it. Go check it out.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go win some money from a radio station. I am feelin' lucky!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weigh-In Wednesday Numero Uno (Again)

I have decided that there isn't anything wrong with constantly "starting over" on my diet. Actually, starting over on anything repeatedly is fine by me. I mean, it's better than giving up, right?

Ok, so my convictions aren't very committed. But here I am again. Starting over.

Last Wednesday I wrote a post, but didn't publish it because I re-read it and was super ashamed. As a matter of fact, I had titled that post as "Ashamed". Here it is in all its sadness:

Post Dated 9/29/10

I weighed myself for the first time this morning. I was scared. I knew it would be bad.

212.2 pounds.

Looking back on my weight-loss tracker, I have gained 16.6 pounds since June. I have gained nearly 17 pounds in the last three months.

I am shamed.

I know I have "started over" many times through the course of this blog, and I am horrified that I am doing it again. But I have to if I want to reach any of my goals by this time next year. I am already one year behind on reaching the goals I originally declared.

I have so many other wants, dreams, and hopes, but my weight is the one that I can control and accomplish as fast or as slow as I choose. I don't want to be a human yo-yo anymore. I have 48 weeks until I turn 30. I need to lose 78 pounds to reach my goal of 135 pounds. All I would need to do is stick to a reasonable 1-2 pound weight-loss for the next 48 weeks and I will reach my goal.

Can I do it? Can I be reasonable? We'll find out - slow and steady.

I know, you want to stop reading my blog because I am such a failure! But wait! Read on...

I'm afraid that I am a Paper Tiger, a term I learned from reading The Ex Hot Girl's blog (who in turn got it from this guy). I failed in my goals and when the going got tough I didn't post. This week ended up being a good week and so now I post. Paper Tiger, that's me.

I will again try to be more consistent on Wednesdays, I can do once a week, right? And if my ups and downs helps someone else go through their ups and downs, then all the better!

This last week I didn't eat out as much and I went to the gym for the first time. It appears to have paid off because I weighed in at 206.8 this morning, for a total loss of 5.4 pounds this week.

Now, let me disclose that I did something on Monday to help me get into the mode of eating right: I fasted. Not for the entire day, but for a good 24 hours. I finished dinner on Sunday at around 7:30 pm and ate my chicken and hearty salad around the same time on Monday, after the gym.

Why did I fast?

I appreciate food so much more after a good fast. Not in the "give me a burger STAT" kind of way, but in a "banana, all I need is a banana" kind of way. I am hoping that my brain will reset itself and I can now proceed with my weight-loss in the normal way of thinking. I hope.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hello, Gym, Missed Me?

Last night was my first visit to the gym in... umm... well, it's actually been so long I don't even remember the last time I went! I didn't do any kind of physical activity for the entire month of September - unless you count hefting up my big behind to go get some Tillamook's Limited Edition Grandma's Cake Batter Ice Cream. That's right, Limited Edition.

My boot camp fee is $64.07 and my gym is $49.13. That is a grand total of $113.20 wasted last month.

I have a legit reason for not being aggressive with my workouts. Before you ask, no, it was not a legit excuse to stop watching what I eat. Anyway, I got my MRI results back and I have a "benign stress sclerotic lesion." No, I don't know what that means. I tried to look it up online but couldn't find anything. But the doctor's office wasn't concerned so neither am I. The only comment was, "If the patient is still in pain, consult sports medicine doctor." Well, I was a bit achey, but nothing serious. So I wait a couple more weeks before I hit the gym again because I really don't want my hip to start hurting.

I wanted to ease my way back into working out, so last night I was on the incumbent bike, catching up with my US Weekly's that had piled up (I only read these at the gym). To my surprise, I was on there for an hour. I was nervous that I would wake up this morning with my hip hurting again, but it was totally fine. The gym rat is back!

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Favorite Day of the Week!

TGIF, people! And welcome to Breast Cancer Awareness month. In honor of this cause, I am wearing my obligatory pink. Are you?
Pink.jpg picture by melaniehokin

Fridays really are the best days of the week. Ok, maybe Saturdays are, but it is going to be a beautiful (and certainly unusual for this time of year) 75 degrees today!

In keeping with the whole pink theme, here is a beautiful pair of shoes that I have been lusting after for the last year or so:

Retailing at a little over $300, these babies fall under the category of My-Broke-A$$-Can't-Afford. But oh how pretty!!! A rounded toe! Patent pink! A bow! Oh be still my heart, Mr. Jacobs - you really had me in mind for this one!

On another note, I have made a huge declaration: I will only go out to eat once a week!

Ok, for most of you, that isn't anything unusual. But if you personally know me, you know that I go out to eat pretty much everyday for lunch. I am killing two birds with one stone with this declaration of mine. First, I will lose weight because I don't always make the best decisions when I go out to eat. Second, I will save money because I am pretty sure that a good 50%-75% of my paycheck goes to the neighboring restaurants.

Can I do it? I really have no choice. I must.