Sunday, January 30, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Oh my god I LOVED this book. Seriously, I couldn’t stop reading. I was half prepared to be disappointed because there’s been so much hype around it, but I just wasn’t . At all. It was awesome.

There was a time when I would have given anything to have Anna’s story as my own teen life. The foreign place, the cute boys, the great friends... all of it.

Etienne is totally swoon worthy and I was addicted to him as much as Anna was. I found myself craving more of his story when he was absent from scenes and getting little jolts of happiness when he’d appear. I haven’t had a literary crush like this in a while.

Anna was really interesting to me. She was outgoing and yet shy, she was smart, but not a genius... she was a character I found to be made up of a lot of contradictions and I think maybe that’s why I liked her so much.

In all, the writing was just really great, the story was so fun and everything just had an element of realism that was fantastic to read. I’m really excited to see more from Stephanie Perkins in the future.

My favourite parts....warning: spoilers to come





-Thanksgiving weekend- honestly, I would have given anything for such a romantic (albeit sexually tense) weekend when I was in my late teens. The sleeping together scenes gave me tingles.

-the Christmas emails <3 .... um, adorable and at the same time made me want to scream “HE TOTALLY LOVES YOU ANNA, HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT?”

-The confrontation after the kiss in the park... gut wrenching

-THE scene at Notre Dame... um, ya. Swoon, cry, butterflies in my tummy. SO ROMANTIC and such a relief that they are FINALLY together.

Oh man... I loved this book. I already want to re-read it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Warning: This is not a good review. I don't often give reviews like this but I'm not really sure what else to say about this book:

It took me 25 days to read this book because I really wasn't a fan. Or.... perhaps I wasn't a fan because it took me 25 days to read it? Whatever the explanation, I just couldn't connect with these characters or the story at all.

Firstly the story line seemed to be all over the place and totally unbelievable. I finished the story with a sense of "um........ how did we go from point A to point E to points X and Y"? Nothing seemed to flow or really make sense with the original direction of the story. I think the author was trying to do too many things at once.

The characters were very flat and I didn't particularly care about any of them, even by the very end. And I really didn't buy the romance. In fact, all the relationships felt forced.

I really can't think of much more to say about this book other than that I'm sure it will be hitting the pile bound for the used book store and hopefully it will find someone to love it there.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another one?

Well, since it's been almost 3 weeks since my last post I thought I should find some time to post... something. Here's just another mass update (I seem to do a lot of those lately):

I'm starting week four of SemesterFromHell and so far, so good.  After class tomorrow I will have 4 stats classes, 1 quiz (on which I scored 80%!!),  and 1 assignment behind me- leaving only 7 classes, 1 quiz, 1 assignment and 2 exams left for that class.  I have a paper due next week in MODR which I have a good start on, and the ball is rolling with our marketing plan (although, I'm still really not looking forward to it). I'm still iffy on whether or not my stats tutor is going to be of much assistance, so we'll have to wait and see.  I do know that physically being in the classroom is a lot better than taking it online in this case.

I've really gotten back into working out and eating well again.  I gained some weight over the holidays so I knew it was time to get back on the wagon. 

The exercise bit has been pretty good this time around.  I've found a tiered, 3 level mixed cardio routine that I really like and that I can do it in my basement.  So, I've been doing that 4 times a week.  I'm 1 session away from stepping up to level 2 so we'll see how that goes later this week.  It's really nice to have something I can do at home since a) it's -1 billion out, so running is incredibly uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) and b) I can't afford a gym membership right now. 

I've even convinced Bub to get back to it as well, and he's now working out more than I am (with the exception of last week when he was sick as a dog).

In terms of my diet, I'm trying to stay under 1550 calories per day (with a minimum of 1200), really trying to cut out a lot pre-package/processed foods and trying to make sure that I'm eating a variety of foods from across the food groups.

Example menu:

Breakfast: 2 slices of sourdough toast w/ light margarine (a fave of mine), tea w/ milk
Snack 1: either raspberries (1/2 pint) or 1 banana
Lunch: spinach salad (baby spinach, low fat cheddar cheese, cucumbers, carrots, turkey w/ classic herb dressing)
Snack 2: veggie sticks and yogurt dip and/or banana
Dinner: whole wheat pasta w/ tomato and meat sauce and low fat cheese (extra lean GB, low sodium diced tomatoes, blue menu tomato sauce base)
Snack 3 : a couple of crackers, frozen yogurt

Tonight I have a turkey and sprout pita for dinner (school night) that's is really, really yummy and surprisingly low in calories.

I had a physical last week (my first in 4 years) which went well:
  • I got a rec from the doctor for physio and massage therapy for my shoulder, but unfortunately, she gave me a rec for a location who's hours I can't fit into my schedule.  I'll have to go back and get a general requisition so I can find my own place to go.  I'm really looking forward to tackling this issue.
  • She found a lump in my breast, but since I've had one before and it turned out to be nothing, she wasn't overly concerned.  I go back in 3 weeks to check it again and if it's still there then I'll be sent to the hospital for an ultra-sound and mammogram.  I'm not really concerned.
  • I got my shots up-to-date and got a script for the HPV vaccine which I haven't filled yet because I'm unsure how I feel about it (it's really new so that makes me nervous)
  • my weight and blood pressure are "excellent" according to the good doctor!!
  • Everything else seemed fine
I'm also taking a multi-vitamin again and I'll be making an appointment with my dentist sometime this week.  I figure that with my crazy schedule, my body can use all the help it can get keeping me awake, energized and healthy, so that what I plan to do.

My resolution to be more positive and not let things bother me is going pretty good. I'm trying my best to see the bright side of things and it's really made a difference.  I highly recommend it.

Our nephew Oscar turned 1 last weekend and we had a good time at his birthday party.  I can't believe a year has gone by already.

That's pretty much it! I've been working like crazy this month and other that Forget You which I read on New Years Day, I haven't even finished a book.  I have about 50 pages left of my current novel so hopefully by the end of the week I'll have a review to post and then it' on to Anna and the French Kiss I think.

Ok, now I'm back to work!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Semester 5 (aka: Semester from Hell)

I can't believe starting my fifth semester since returning to school.  Honestly, it feels like I just started and I can only hope that the remainder of my time in school goes just as quickly.

Here's the class line-up for this semester:

Monday nights: MODR- Reasoning in Women and Sexism (continues)
Tuesday nights: Quantitative Methods I (aka- stats I- again)
Online: Marketing I

I'm looking forward to marketing, and I love, love, love my MODR class... so why has this semester been dubbed "Semester from Hell"?  Well, simply because of the over-the-top workload. 

Stats *shiver*
-2 tests
-2 assignments
-final exam

-conceptual analysis paper
-another conceptual analysis paper
-in-class presentation

-15 discussion board postings per class (so, per week)
-responses to fellow students discussion board postings
-2 assignments
-group marketing plan (HUGE assignment we work on all semester)
-final exam

Of course, this is all on-top of readings and lectures, plus a one hour per week stats tutoring session that I'm in the process of setting up today. Oh! and I work full-time.  Did I mention that?  And this is all going down in the next 12 weeks.

Pray for me.

I'm not complaining though.  Not yet anyways. I'm just stating the facts as I see them right now and I find it better to get it "on paper" so that I'm clear on what needs to be done.  And I have my new office at home to comfortably study/work on assignments and Bub is picking up a padded lap workstation for me today that includes a light, cup holder and pencil holder so that I can comfortably read and highlight textbooks in bed.  I've taken on a new outlook about school and I'm hoping it lasts.  I will work hard, but I won't let it run my life. I will be OK with whatever marks I get as long as I know that I did my best and I will take it one semester at a time.

So here I go... diving head first into another semester and counting down the weeks until this one is behind me too.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years "Resolutions"

I never take NY resolutions seriously.  They're usually just a listing of things that I want to do anyways that I'm "resolving" to do in the coming 12 months. 

Not this year. I'm making them fun, nothing too serious, so hopefully I can get them crossed off.

1.  This one was actually Bub's idea:  Try 1 new meal or dish, never before cooked by either of us, at least once every 2 weeks (which is once per grocery shop).  We both love to cook and to try new things, but this will force us to do so.

2. Have more fun and be more social!  Stop being a hermit and go out when friends ask. Visit bestie even though she's 40 minutes away (in the boonies). Host a BBQ and bonfire with friends in the summer. 

3.  Have 3 adventures.  Ideas: take scuba lessons, go bungee jumping, go zip-lining, go whitewater rafting, go backpacking/deep woods camping/canoe tripping... something to get the adrenaline pumping.  Perhaps an encore skydive is in order?

and finally

4.  Don't take everything so seriously.  If I don't get an A on a school project, it's not the end of the world.    And ...mind my own business when it's something that doesn't concern me. I won't get upset with stuff that's not my problem this year.

So... here's to a fun 2011!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Recap

2010 was quite the year.  Although it did have it's great moments, I can't say that I'm sad to see it go.  I will however, do a quick post recapping the major events of the year.


-Our nephew Oscar was born on Jan 15th (Bub's step-brothers son)


-The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver!  Incredible, incredible, incredible.  I was so proud to be Canadian (as I always am) for those two weeks.  We rocked the house, we showed off our beautiful country, our over the top patriotism, our incredible athletes and WE KICKED SOME AMERICAN BUTT IN HOCKEY!!!

-My Baba is hospitalized having multiple heart attacks and strokes. She is put on life support and the family is told that it's the only thing keeping her alive.

-My Aunt in hospitalized with what the doctors suspect is advanced liver cancer.  The doctors tell the family that it's "likely she won't make it much longer"

March 2010

-Baba is taken off of life support and her feeding tubes are removed.  We are told it won't be long until she passes. 
-At the request of her sister, Baba is put back on life support and her feeding tubes are reinserted.

- The doctors confirm, then deny, then confirm, then deny that my aunt has liver cancer.  Her biopsy is scheduled, and cancelled and rescheduled and then cancelled again.  She is transferred to a cancer center and then back to her home hospital.  She starts to show improvement after about a week as is eventually released from the hospital to bed rest at home at the end of the month.

-I receive the following text message from my husband "They found cancer in my Dad".  This starts a 6 month roller-coaster of good news vs. bad news.

-Somewhere in here my sister decides to separate herself from the family altogether and stops speaking to my Mom and Dad


-I wrote my second set of exams.... it was much less stressful than my first round.

-Camping in Algonquin!  Bub and I spent a day and night in Algonquin in early spring warm spell and nature watching.  So fun!


-FIL is informed that he will definitely have to have surgery to remove part of his esophagus as "he's playing with fire and the cancer keeps returning".  This is after 3 visits in which he was told he is "cancer free".

-A weekend or two at the cabin

-We spend an amazing weekend at a Muskoka Cottage resort to celebrate the long-awaited wedding of Bub's cousin Shannon and her fiance Bryan.  It was an absolutely beautiful and unforgettable weekend.

-I play my first round of golf (and LOVED it) and then golf for the first time in the Annual T-Games.


-A couple of weekends at the cabin!

-FIL is given the all-clear that he is cancer free and won't require surgery.

-Vacation on Muldrew Lake.... wonderful as always.


- I wrote my third set of exams

-SIL's bridal shower and bachelorette parties are a success!

- A couple of weekends at the cabin.


-Begin 2nd full-year of University

-Travel with the whole T family to Niagara Falls for the weekend to celebrate Bub's Gramma's 80th birthday.  Great memories.

-I buy my first Coach bag (yes, this is important enough for me to mention!)


-SIL's wedding goes off with just a few minor hitches.

-We host our first Halloween party and it's a blast

-I fail (or come very close to failing) my first exam EVER


-I make the decision to drop my stats class and retake it later with the help of a tutor


-Bub and I celebrate our 10th anniversary (with a weekend getaway to Niagara Falls/Niagara on the Lake)

-Most importantly... Baba spends Christmas day with My Dad and step-mom, my Aunt Bonnie spends Christmas Day (cancer free) with my Nana and cousins and my FIL wakes up Christmas morning still cancer free.

I think those are big signs that 2011 is looking pretty good!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Whoa boy.... this book was certainly able to raise some color in my cheeks.  There were a few steamy scenes that made me forget I was reading a YA novel.  Yowzers.  I read this book from cover to cover in one lazy day, alternating between napping and reading; stopping only to eat a couple times.  I really enjoyed it, but I can't say that I loved it.

First, something about Zoey really got to me.  The book flap said she was something of a control freak and perfectionist, but I didn't get that.  I know the story is based around a really chaotic time in her life where it would be difficult to be in control, but I didn't even buy the fact that she tried.  Some of her decisions and actions through the story made me furious.  I thought she was smarter than the choices she was making and it thoroughly annoyed me.  On the flip side, I really felt for her when it came to her relationship with her father.  He infuriated me and I'm glad that I didn't have to read much about him later in the book.

Doug, on the other hand, was fascinating to me.  I felt instantly drawn to him from the morning after the accident right through to the final pages.  He was real and flawed and yet somehow still managed to be perfect for Zoey.  And he was HOT! At least, the Doug I created in my mind was.  I really enjoyed spending time with this character.

The sexual tension in this book makes it a tantalizing read for sure.  It's definitely a book written for the older YA fans and not something I'd be allowing my young teen to read.  But on the other hand, it did tell the truth about sex, especially the first experience, which is refreshing in comparison to some other YA novels.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this book, but I think I was just disappointed that I didn't fall in love with it.  Based on several other reviews, I fully expected to so it's disheartening to realize you're 3/4 of the way through the book and it hasn't happened yet.  I do recommend it to all fans of contemporary YA and those who like to read those steamy scenes!