Friday, January 29, 2010

The City of Bones (Immortals # 1) by Cassandra Clare

I'm a little unsure of where to go with this review, so I will keep it brief.

Overall, the book was intriguing and kept me interested enough to keep listening. To be 100% truthful, I think it was the audio narrator (I listened to this on audiobook) more than the actual story that I had a hard time with at some points. I just don't think her voice/style fit the story.... but that's just me.

This book was a little more "fantasy" than I normally read and it was certainly "out-there" but entertaining.

This morning, one of the girls on my book club asked me what I thought about it, and I said "There were some very good parts, there were a few "meh" parts and one total W.T.F. part at the end that both weirded me out and insured that I would continue with the series". I realize now that when I continue I will need to actually read the book because I have a hard time with the narrator.

All in all, I would say this book is just good. I enjoyed it, I will continue with the series, but I'm not in a huge rush.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Focusing on my health again....

Okay- here’s the deal. I’ve blogged before about my weight loss and the trails/tribulations surrounding it, but I feel the need to write a quick summary because I need reminding of what I worked so hard for that I am now allowing, albeit slowly, to slip away.

In July of 2007, I decided to rejoin weight watchers, having had success there just before high school. I went to my first weigh in and I was… *gasp*… 212lbs! Yep- that’s right. 212lbs on my 5’8 frame. I was heartbroken. I had struggled with my weight since 6th (ish) grade, but this was the heaviest I had ever been. My husband, who has always been a very large person (hence the nickname Bubba), was at his heaviest at the same time at about 350lbs.

Aug.  2007- Celebrating1st Wedding Anniversary

To make a long story short, after a conversation with my Mum expressing concerns that my husband was literally killing himself- which led to a complete breakdown in the middle of the night complete with tears and one very surprised husband- we decided to make some changes. We didn’t diet, but just made changes to what we were already eating (such as switching to low-fat, low-cal, whole wheat options) and how much of it we ate and we started walking for 30 minutes a day, rain or shine. The weight literally fell off. I’m not kidding. My husband literally transformed before my eyes. The best part was that we never felt deprived, we ate pretty much whatever we wanted, just in moderation and the time spent walking was a great time for us to catch-up with each other. It was so easy and I remember thinking “how could I have struggled so long with this…. look at how easy it is now”. The end result was a combined weight loss of almost 180lbs less than 2 years later (110lbs – him, 68lbs- me).

May 2009- Vacation in Florida

For me, it transformed into more than just walking. For 2 winters, I would get up at 6am and hit the gym or pool for running and lap swimming. In the nice weather, I started running outside. I had plans for a 5K and even took a women’s outdoor boot camp class and was the likely the fastest and most fit person in the class. Aside for not being able to kick my smoking habit, I was LOVING being healthy and feeling great.

Then, for whatever reason (and I still don’t know what it was) last summer, the number of days between runs grew longer and longer. The dogs weren’t getting their regular walks anymore and I stopped tracking my food intake. In September, when I started back to school full-time (while keeping my regular full-time job) my running shoes were permanently hung up. I have not been out for a run in over 5 months. I have not slipped back into anything near what I was before all these changes (I’ve only gained back 3lbs), but I feel it going that way. My husband had also stopped regular exercising and he also quit smoking which had led to a 15lbs weight gain since last April.

As much as I truly don’t have time to fit exercise back into my days, I have to find a way. I don’t have the money for a gym membership this year so I will have to settle for the old cross-trainer in the basement, running/walking outside when possible, and starting the 30 Day Shred. I miss being able to say “I had a great run this morning” or “ugh, what a terrible work out today”. I miss being one of those fit people.

So here’s my plan:

1. Start tracking my calories again. A lot of people say this is a waste of time, but it really helps keep me in check. I have to stay under 1600 calories a day to lose.

2. Three mornings (minimum) per week, get up and go for a walk/ do 30 Day Shred.

3. Once I’m back in the groove of morning work-outs, start Couch to 5K training program again mixed in with the strength training from 30 Day Shred.

I’m determined to become that person again. Everyone was so impressed with us, and we still get questions like “are you still running every morning” or “are you still swimming every morning” and now I have to answer no. I want to make taking care of my body part of my daily routine again and the time demands from school are going anywhere for the next almost 4 years, so I have to find a way to make them work together.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lookie what I found!

I found a great new book blog with a fantastic giveaway going on right now.... check it out!

Steph Su Reads: Blogoversary Giveaway!

I'm dying to get my hands on an ARC of Linger or Sisters Red! 

Monday, January 25, 2010

School Update

I got back an assignment we handed in at the beginning of November as preliminary research for our papers this term (for my humanities class). I only got a 75% which would have been the worst mark I’d received yet since returning to University. I had a couple of concerns about the assignment, so I made an appointment with my (tutorial) professor to discuss them with her. I didn’t really want to argue my mark so much as I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track to start my paper and to do well on it since it’s worth 30% of my mark.

She stood me up for my first appointment after I left work early, drove down and paid for parking, on the same week that I arrived to my ECON class with a completely dead laptop and no other method to take notes (ya… it was a craptastic school week). But we rescheduled for last week and I went in to speak with her. The long and the short of it was, she up’d my mark to an 82% after re-reading my assignment and gave me some really good tips. She hadn’t actually been the one to mark it to begin with as she was off for surgery and her replacement marked them. I’m so happy I took the time to go in there because a) I ended up with a better mark and b) I now have a much better idea of what she will be looking for when she marks the paper. It was good for my ego too because after she re-read it, she basically discounted the comments made by the replacement, told me NOT to follow her suggestions and instructions and said “this is definitely an A assignment, I’m upping your mark right now” and I watched her update my mark on her spreadsheet.
I’m still dreading the paper, but not as much.

So, I can still officially say that I still haven’t received anything lower than an A as of yet. Hopefully I can keep that up.

I'm facing some frustrations with my OB class (my online class) because of the infuriating professor, but I got an A in her class last term so I'm gonna work just as hard to do the same this semester.

T-R-O-U-B-L-E with a capital T!

Since we purchased our home about a year ago, the budget has been tight. Then when I decided to go back to school, it got even tighter (yes I’m still working, but tuition, books, the commute, and parking are expensive!). Then we had to buy a "new" car because our old one was finally no longer worth repairing and so we were once again strapped with a car payment & the budget became super-duper tight.

What did all of this mean? It meant that along with many other things, I had to stop purchasing books. I did really well. I was a regular at the library and any books that I absolutely had to own, I asked for, for Christmas or bought used/on sale, and I just stayed away from Chapters.

Then, one of the ladies on the forum that I frequent posted about this site. The Book Depository is a site where you can order pretty much any book, including international versions, with free shipping around most of the world. And the prices are fantastic.

Remember my post about not being able to get my hands on a copy of The Dark Divine? Well, I found a copy on this site for 50% off- so it was worth the wait! I also ordered a copy 2 old favorites: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry to add to my library. My total order including tax? $16.71. For three brand new books!!!

This site is going to be trouble for me. Within minutes of placing my first order, I was searching for and building a second order. I’ve made a decision not to place order # 2 until order # 1 arrives and I can ensure that there are no catches or extra charges. But if it goes like I think it’s going to, my library is about to get a whole lot bigger!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

What a great read! Easy and super fast, I loved this book from start to finish. 

First of all, Patch = HOT! I’m always drawn to the bad boy type, and Patch, as sort of the ultimate bad boy, was no exception.

This was my second brush with Fallen Angels and I really, really enjoyed it. Having been raised Christian and now being completely agnostic, it’s interesting to have references, however brief, to the stories I was told as a kid and to be able to look at them from a totally different perspective.

I’ve read several reviews that say it was another copy of previous YA paranormal romance books, and I can definitely see the similarities- but let’s be honest; it would be incredibly difficult to write a book that had absolutely no similarities to others in the same genre… that’s why it’s called a genre. I really had no idea where the story was going. Yes some parts were obvious (based on the cover of the book, or the genre that it falls under) but Patch’s secret where it related to Nora was very surprising to me and the identity of some of the other characters shocked me as well. This makes up for the similarities in my head. As long as I don’t know what’s coming the whole way, it’s a winner for me.

Were there a few things here and there that bothered me? Yes. However, there are very few books in the world that don’t have elements that I don’t like or don’t “get”:

-I never seem to like the best friend… ever. Vee was meh to me.

-I can’t stand that parents are made out to be completely clueless or incredibly gullible in most YA novels… my parents were usually one step ahead of me. Nora’s Mom just buys her stories without much question and it’s a little unbelievable to me. Maybe I just had really smart parents?

-Nora was obviously really flawed as most girls would have run the other way if they suspected Patch of what she did. But I guess you have to have a flawed protagonist to write a story like that or they would all end the same boring way- mysterious boy, perfectly smart and rational main character gets weird vibes and is afraid of him, immediately tells her parents and they move far, far away to somewhere safe, never see the boy again, girl meets “safe” boy falls in love, marries him and has babies, everyone lives happily ever after, book ends.

Beyond the few things I didn’t like or the few things that bothered me, I really loved this book. It sucked me in more than any books I’ve read in a while and I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait to read Crescendo even though I was happy with the ending of Hush, Hush. It was refreshing to read something that wasn’t concluded as a setup for the next book.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm just not meant to read this book...

Ever since I accidentally came across a summary of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain early last fall I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. Apparently it's just not meant to be.

It was one of the books on my Christmas list that I didn’t end up getting because my husband was done his shopping by the time it was released (Dec. 22).

My library doesn't have a single copy, nor do they have any on order.

My local bookstores and even the bookstores that I frequently pass in Toronto on my way to school never seem to have any in stock. My local Chapters shows 1 in stock, but they can't locate it.

It's too new for used book stores.

I'm not willing to pay $8 shipping for a $20 book on

It's seriously TORTURE!  I don't know why I'm so intrigued by this book (beyond the stunning cover), but it's killing me that I can't read it yet. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A girl can dream....

I’m a purse and shoe girl at heart. I live for the perfect pair of boots or shoes and a great bag. I also adore fashion and trendy clothes. However, I’m also a full-time student and homeowner, which means that I don’t have money to support my own habit. My own wardrobe is incredibly limited (like under 10 outfits- it's really sad), especially since I’ve been consistently losing weight for 2 years and can’t keep anything for longer than a season. I have a couple pairs of great shoes and couple pairs of great boots, but that’s it. I’m envious of those ladies with real shoe collections and fabulous clothes to choose from every day. I hate most of my clothes.


I’ve always said that when I go to New York City, if I only buy one thing it will be a pair of Manolo’s (that's Manolo Blahniks for all you shoe neophites- GENIUS shoe designer). I have my eye on these lovelies right now….

hello beautiful....

well aren't you sexy... the perfect pairing for a LBD

::sigh::  Oh sorry... you're still there?  Right.  Back to blogging.

The day that my size 9 foot slides into a Manolo for the first time will be one of the happiest days of my life.  Too bad it's nowhere in the forseeable future.

On a more exciting note, I’ve decided that I’m going to save up to buy myself a great bag. Nothing major, just a couple hundred bucks (if that) but something fabulous. I have my eye on a few Guess and Coach bags.  The Guess bags are a little more realistic price wise but we'll see. 

I did some online browsing and a couple things caught my eye.

Guess- Folklore Shopper

 Kathy Van Zeeland- North/South Tote

As you can see, when it comes to bags, the bigger the better IMO.
And here is the dream bag... the bag I will buy myself when I graduate from University.  The bag I've been coveting for ever.... THE bag.
You can't get any classier than Chanel.  Every lady should have a Chanel.

It's just so pretty!!
I think my Dad and step-mom got me a Kathy bag for Chistmas so I was going to hold off. But, then I thought that I haven't bought myself a new purse in a lonnnnnng time and I'm due AND a girl can never have too many purses.
So, I'll try to wait patiently while I save the money (it will be a long process) and then treat myself.  I can't wait.  There's no better feeling than having a fabulous new purse on your arm.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's Complicated

I took my Mom to see It’s Complicated yesterday afternoon. Oh.My.God…. it’s too funny! Meryl Streep is beyond awesome (as always) and the chemistry between her and Alec Baldwin and her and Steve Martin is perfection.  I'm not generally a huge fan of Baldwin, but he is GREAT in this movie.

If you haven't seen this yet, go see it.  Luckily it's not one of those movies where all the funny parts are spoiled in the previews and the story is not what you'd expect.  It's a feel good, laugh-out-loud movie with a great story and awesome cast.

Quick Getaway

We took a spontaneous trip to Niagara Falls this weekend. And by spontaneous I mean we decided at about 2 o’clock Friday afternoon. I gave Bub a list of stuff to pack for me since we wanted to leave as soon as I was done work at 4:30, and that was that.

I, of course, had something come up at work at the last minute so I sent Bub to drop the dogs off with my Mum while I finished that up and then we hit the road. We made really good time and arrived in just a little over 2 hours (including a pee break!) and checked in to the hotel.

We hit up Mick and Angelo’s for dinner, which was really our primary reason for heading down there since its Bub’s favorite restaurant. And man… I have to admit. The Chicken Calzone is To.Die.For!!!!! We took a little drive down to the falls and through the light tour and then went back to the hotel.

The light tour- I can't take credit for this pic. I just did a google search.

We spent a good portion of the rest of the night and the following morning in the Jacuzzi. Bub just kept saying to me... “yeah, we need one of these at home”.

We got up, stopped at the IHOP for breakfast- which was nothing special IMO- and then hit the outlet mall. I came home with a super cute wrap sweater and a new hoodie.

We both love Niagara (we go a couple times a year and honeymooned there) so it was super nice to get away like that. I think it was even more fun because it wasn’t planned at all. It was totally spur of the moment, and that somehow made it more exciting.

I'm wishing I was back there right now... lazing in the jacuzzi.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

I've been dying to get my hands on this book since I came across a summary of it before it was released. Long reserve lists for my library's single copy kept me waiting for months, so I was more than excited to get my own copy as a Christmas gift.

I have to say that when the story started out, I was a little disappointed. I think it was one of those situations where the hype and anticipation had built to breaking point before I read it and my expectations were too high. I was really enjoying it, but I wasn't IN LOVE with it like I had expected (or hoped) to be. However, by the end of the story I was totally hooked. I was completely attached to the characters and loving the story.

The writing style is absolutely beautiful. The use of Sam's lyrics are haunting and somehow make his character so much deeper and yet easier to understand.

I think one of my favorite parts of the story is the idea of the Wolves.... and that they are a more "realistic" kind of werewolf. There is no magic or ancient battles... it's simply a boy who becomes a wolf, a real wolf, in the winter. No magic powers, no super human strength or immortality, just a boy and the wolf he becomes.

The final pages made me physically ache and were, in my opinion, the best writing of the entire book. The last paragraph was stunning. I can't wait to get my hands on Linger so I can revist Mercy Falls, Sam & Grace and Stiefvater's fabulous writing.

Definitely an all time favorite.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who doesn't love a free book contest?

I just started following "Only Sexy Books Allowed" (I mean really... who can resist that title???)

There's a contest going on over there right now for an ARC of Something Like Fate by Susanne Colasanti... go check it out!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 baby

When we brought Baby Lola home when she was just 10 weeks old, I went camera crazy.  Seriously.  I had so many pics of that dog it was kinda sickening.  But she was just the cutest puppy ever!!!!!  Until, one day, I turned my camera on to find that the memory card had errored ("memory card requires formatting") and I had lost all of my pictures.  I was heartbroken because I had yet to do a backup of any of the pics onto my PC.... which meant they were gone.  All the baby pictures of my sweet, sweet Lola were lost forever.

That was in late 2005 and early 2006.   Today, a friend of my Mum's contacted her to ask who I had used for my wedding invitiations.  I couldn't remember the vendor name so I logged in to my (very) old email address to look through my saved files for a confirmation email from the company to pass along. 

While searching through my saved messages, I found an email from December of 2005 from my Uncle titled "Baby Lola, Jake & Sydney" and another entitled "Baby Lola and the Doug-mister".  Jake and Sydney are my Uncle's dogs and Dougie is my Mum's dog... so I opened it up and LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!!!

Lola and her "Ma" (my Mum) on Christmas morning

Lola and Dougie on the stairs at my Mum's

My sweet girl giving sweet kisses

Baby pictures of my little Lola Bean!!!!  She looks so different now, but my GOD she really was the cutest puppy in the entire world.  You have no idea how happy these pictures make me.  I was so sad that I didn't have any pics from that time.  It's not many, but it's something.

I so love that little girl.  She's my furry soul-mate.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm broke this winter so...

I broke down and bought this....

The last two winters I have got myself a gym membership and alternated swimming and running 4 or 5 mornings a week, and although I'm really going to miss is this year I just can't afford it.  On top of that, we've been rocked with snow this year and running outside is just not a safe option right now. So, I had to find something to keep me busy until I can get back outside. 

I've heard good things about this and am hoping that I find it effective.  I'm worried that there won't be enough of a cardio workout (I'm sure the strength training will brutal since I don't really do any) but we'll see how it goes.  Perhaps I can start getting up in the morning and walking my dogs for the time being to supplement a little?

Regardless, it's better than the nothing I've been doing since going back to school.  My running shoes have been lonely in the closet since September and I MISS IT!  This should tie me over until I get back to running. 

I hope to start tomorrow morning... so here goes nothin'.  We'll see what all the hype is about anyway.

I forgot to post...

got an A in Microeconomics?

Yep-  A

I thought I bombed the exam.

Whatevs... I'll take it.

Time for a happy dance!!!!