Friday, February 28, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Guilty Pleasures

This is a link up with Novel Heartbeat

This week's topic is: Guilty Pleasures 

When I hear guilty pleasures I usually think of TV shows first. Probably can blame Netflix for that. Two guilty pleasure shows I watch....eep...

Vampire Diaries I actually started watching this show on Netflix because I was tired and just wanted to watch something girly and crappy, something that wouldn't involve much thought process. And I got hooked. Probably, okay definitely, because the Salvatore brothers are so hot. HOT. I've fallen behind on this latest season so NO spoilers here people. And no, I haven't watched the Originals. I am actually incredibly horrible at watching TV consistently. I need Netflix or OnDemand to keep up with anything :/

Oh man. Pretty embarrassed to admit this one. Plus, when I see both shows are about vampires, I look like a crazy. I started watching this one OnDemand and was shocked later to find out it is on NBC, I thought for sure it was an HBO show. While this is definitely not a favorite show, it is easy to get sucked into. I love the back to basics take on vampires. I also love how Dracula isn't completely a bad guy for once. Sure, he is bad, but he has a sad back story and a good reason for his actions....mostly. 

Other guilty pleasures usually involve wine, chocolate, and NAPS!

Can't wait to see what everyone else shares!!

Have you watched either show, or am I the crazy one??

Monday, February 24, 2014

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Check out the author's blog HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal other wordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
About the Author:
Image of Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Lips Touch: Three Times, as well as the novels Blackbringer and Silksinger. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter.

 I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. Amazon is offering this Kindle book for $7.99 today (2/20/14).

My Thoughts:
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is the first in a trilogy with the third installment due out this April. Seeing the 830+ reviews on Amazon and the 3,000+ on Goodreads, I promise not to spend too much time rehashing plot or characters. 

Let's get my dislikes out of the way first. Akiva. Yes, I know. But I don't feel as if I am completely alone when I page through the reviews. I did feel for him once I'd read the whole story, he suffered a great lost, was in great, horrible pain. I mean how do you NOT feel for that. However, I just couldn't get on board with a lot of his decisions. Maybe I just couldn't relate, but after the love of your life dies, do you really turn your back on everything you two had dreamed about, everything you had hoped to accomplish? So I spent a lot of the book saying "What the poo??"

I also didn't like Karou's final decision, but that may have been because I didn't think Brimstone was all that awesome. He was not a spectacular father figure by any means, he was just all Karou had. But we are lead to believe that Akiva and Karou have this epic, perfect love where he gives all to be with her, and she leaves him to go find Brimstone. Some will argue with me about how Akiva killed her people and he is horrible and she should leave him, but are they in this together or not? Are they going to try and end this war like they dreamed together or not? She chooses not. Well, waste of a good love story then. Boo. 

There were a few other minor things I tripped over. Insta-love. The convenience of being suddenly rich. Remembering how much I dislike angels depicted in fiction. But let's move on to what I, and hundreds of others, LOVED: the world building. Fantastic. First we get the gorgeous, quirky Prague which instantly fired up my wanderlust. Then we get this giant fantasy world that just bursts with history and character. War has been raging for centuries, both sides full of secrets, power, and deep rooted hate. One of my biggest motivators for continuing this series is just to read more and see if we get to discover more history, more lore. Taylor's writing also really picked up towards the end and I am excited to see if the trend continues through book two. 

As much as I might complain about the little things the characters were well rounded, the world building was fun and intriguing, and the author's take on Romeo and Juliet was great. "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is getting 4 stars from me. If I get my hands on book two, I am really hoping for that score to go up! Any one who hasn't read this book yet but enjoys great fantasy world building and doesn't mind some serious conflict between angel and monster, should add this to their TBR list immediately! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Introvert or Extrovert

This is a link up with Novel Heartbeat

This week's topic is: Introvert or Extrovert??

Oh yes, I am an introvert. Probably the textbook introvert. Of course, that doesn't mean that I don't like people or hide like a hermit in a dark cave full of books and chocolate....although....... I do like to hang out with people! I love to talk! Being an introvert just means that instead of getting energized by talking with people, instead I usually feel drained. I can have a great time, but man when I get home I just want some quiet and alone time. Preferably a nap. 

I am also a big fan of Myers-Briggs personality types. And if you are too, you will instantly know tons about me after I say this: I am an INFJ. As an insider will know, I LOVE to talk about big ideas, dream, and connect on a deeper level. I want to know people and be known. Check out Myers Briggs website to find your personality type!

In addition, I believe I am so lucky as to also be classified as a highly sensitive person :/ Anne from Modern Mrs Darcy first introduced me to this idea and I instantly saw myself in the description. Someone who is a HSP is more sensitive to things like bright lights and loud sounds found in everyday life. For example, when the baby is whining and Hubby has the radio blaring while cooking, I just want to run away from all the sounds. It almost physically hurts my ears, I get crabby instantly, and just feel exhaustion settle in my chest. I'm mostly sensitive to loud sounds, but when I am already stressed, a pile of toys can quickly become too much visual stimuli and overwhelm me.

Take the HSP self test HERE to see if you might struggle with the same things.

Do you know your MBTI type? Let me know in the comments!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Notes from a Blue Bike

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
Publication Date: February 4th, 2014
Check out the Author's Hugely Popular Blog HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently.

It doesn't always feel like it, but we "do" have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.

The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized "Simple Mom" online community tells the story of her family's ongoing quest to live more simply, fully, and intentionally.

Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, "Notes from a Blue Bike "takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.

Entertaining and compelling--but never shrill or dogmatic--"Notes from a Blue Bike "invites you to climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family needs, and make some important choices. It's a risky ride, but it's worth it--living your life according to who you "really" are simply takes a little intention. It's never too late.
About the Author:
Image of Tsh Oxenreider
Tsh Oxenreider is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Art of Simple, a blog about the art and science of living simply. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe. She is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler, and Organized Simplicity. Tsh is also the main host of The Art of Simple Podcast.

Tsh and her nomadic family currently live in Bend, Oregon, but several dots around the globe have also been called home. Together, they love to travel, read books, go camping, and make homemade pizza for Friday Family Movie Night.

My Thoughts:
Maybe I am not reading the summaries of books well enough, or maybe I am just being mislead, yet here I am again saying: this book was not what I expected it to be. I think I expected some travel stories mixed with tips for living intentionally in a chaotic world. I was reading for tips, lists, charts, facts, I had my pencil poised and my maps out. What I got was a little different, but good in its own unexpected way. Instead "Blue Bike" is like a collection of small topical essays wherein Tsh describes, and defends, her life choices. Along the way there is a connecting thread of intentionality and how she attempts to obtain it.

The first thing that struck me about "Blue Bike" and Tsh's life was that while she is writing and seeking an intentional life, when she peels back the curtain and gives us a glimpse, it seems just as busy and hurried as everyone else. She even defends this at one point saying she loves working and thus checks her phone constantly. I am actually going to use the words of another Goodreads reviewer because she states it just perfectly: "...her descriptions of their life are go-go-go as she and her husband juggle the blog as their primary source of income and three small children. ...I found myself reading a book about a woman spinning her wheels like the rest of us - except that she has the freedom and flexibility of self-employment that so many people do not have." (Anna, Goodreads). And that really says it all. Perhaps that will make superhuman Tsh more human in the eyes of some readers, but perhaps it will make some, like me, feel a little bit let down and wonder if Tsh is really inspiring me to an intentional life, or a green/travel/work from home life. 
"...let the crux of this book sit in your belly and rumble true: we were made to live with intention, beyond the status quo."-pg 88
Something that may have played a part in my feelings: as much as Tsh fights not to be, she does come across as a bit snobby or stand-off-ish. *Eep* I am not trying to attack Tsh in any way!! I honestly believe that she and I probably have different personality types and this is playing a large part. But I have heard several other reviewers, bloggers, people say that she can be a tough woman, and from her (excellent!) writing, you can get the same sense. For example, she places tons of importance and focus on autonomy, stating that because she has a well paying blog business, she is able to live the life she does. Then she goes further and states that everyone should try to do the same. Well, of course everyone would LOVE to do the same! Sometimes it just isn't possible though. Tsh tries to provide some examples in the latter chapters of real people who approached their bosses about work at home options or flexible hours and got what they wanted. I would like to bet that most people who would try that would get a flat out 'No' at best. Plus, the world needs doctors, police officers, baristas...those jobs just canNOT be completed from home. I would hate for them to read this book and feel they cannot live a worthy, intentional lifestyle because they work a job they love. 

I know that this wasn't Tsh's intention, and she writes, several times, that what is in this book is her life and works for her family. But several other little thoughts here and there (her constant frowning on America) just has me thinking that we probably wouldn't be the best of friends. While we may not be best friends, I can certainly respect the lady. She has a take-charge kind of attitude that I can respect and a passion for life that I aspire too. Tsh's writing is superb, not poetic and flowy like many other bloggers and writers I've read lately, but intelligent, snappy, and with a "grown-up" vibe. The writing and layout were warm, inviting, welcoming, drawing you into her life manifesto, creating curiosity about how she lives life. 

"Blue Bike" may not have been as practical as I expected, it was certainly encouraging. Just reading about her life and how she pursues what she wants is inspiring. Tsh also stresses the importance of going out and finding your own simple, your own intentional. For example her words on page 214:
"We're each given freedom to choose our decisions, and that responsibility is the very definition of living with intention..."
I really enjoyed this one, despite my random mini-rant above. Women OR Men could read "Blue Bike" and enjoy it. It is not religiously based so all readers can dive in. A quick, cozy read for readers everywhere who enjoy a good memoir, who crave just a taste of travel, who already love Tsh's writing and/or blog, and for anyone at all with time to read! I'm rating this one as a 4.5 stars and love the way it's still got me thinking. After reading, I think an excellent 'follow' up book would be 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, which while being written in journal entry form, is a more practical intentional living book. Together they would pack a powerful punch and get your booty motivated to live intentionally!! 

Also, before you leave, a favorite quote:
"We would take the beauty of life in a slow, relationship-based culture, and mold it into something beautiful and useful in our native culture, where the prevailing mark of a good day is getting a lot done. We would ask questions like, 'Can we live effectively in the US without productivity as our primary goal?'..." -pg 23

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Life as a Blogger v. 2

This is a link up with Novel Heartbeat

This week's topic is: Plans for the Future!

Oh man. I am not sure I have much plans for the future! My Hubby and I just tried to talk about this but we didn't come up with many answers. 

We both would love to travel, and internationally. Especially ITALY

We are pretty undecided on any more children...though these days full of whining and tantrums, I am leaning towards a firm NO.

My immediate future plans include a trip to sunny, and deliciously warm, Arizona! My best friend is getting married. So right now my life is full of plans, lists, and a giant dash of anxiety and worry. This will be Baby Girl's first time on an airplane, and seeing as she can't sit still for longer than 10 minutes without PBS kids on the's bound to be a disaster. Tangent.

And right now any and all summer plans include just being OUTSIDE and being WARM. Going for walks with Baby Girl and possibly....dun dun dun...a puppy!!!

And on that adorable note I will leave you :)) Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Virtuous Life Review

The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth
The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife by Darlene Schacht
Publication Date: February 3, 2014
Check out the blog HERE
Goodreads Summary:
The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife is written in the format of an 18-part study for daily or weekly reflection. Not only is it a powerful tool for personal growth, it’s also an ideal study-guide for small groups! 

Each lesson leads you through one virtue at a time, offering you applicable and inspiring ways for a wife to grow closer to God and her husband. 
Virtue calls us to action. As we exercise each one, they bring our flesh in line with our Spirit. 

It’s one thing to know what’s good, and it’s another to walk in obedience to the knowledge that we have received. Not always easy, but obedience to our faith is always worth the effort it takes
About the Author:
Darlene Schacht
New York Times best-selling author, Darlene Schacht is an ordinary mom, living an extraordinary life, because of who she is through Jesus Christ. As help-meet to her husband Michael, she guides and nurtures their four children, leading them toward a deeper walk of faith. 

Her work has been published in anthologies by Thomas Nelson, Tyndale Publishing and Adams Media. She the the author of the eBook, "The Good Wife's Guide," as well as co-authoring a book with actress Candace Cameron Bure, Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness.

You can find her blogging at Time-Warp Wife ( where she empowers wives to joyfully serve.

I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Check out the Kindle copy today on Amazon for $4.99 (2/11/14)

My Thoughts:
"Virtuous" is Darlene Schacht's latest book, released first in ebook form and now in paperback as well. The idea was born from a blog series she did just recently. I loosely followed that series, and was happy when I found out that she was going to bind it all together. Also knowing she is a best-selling author, I emailed her about doing a review. Graciously she accepted! 

Immediately I dove in and found myself...somewhat confused. The first chapter was what I expected: an explanation of what a virtue is, where its brought up in the Bible, and how to help ourselves improve certain virtues. A fantastic beginning and it got me excited. 

But then some of the chapters wandered. Each chapter was to focus on a singular virtue, but I think Schacht instead of talking about the obvious (the virtue at hand), tries to take a different angle. And instead of intriguing me, I felt confused and even annoyed me a little. For example, the virtue being discussed was 'trustworthy' and Schacht focuses on gossiping and hardly even mentions trust itself.

Even more confusing, marriage was only mentioned occasionally. I had to check the cover once to see if it did really mention anything about marriage on the cover. I took 'Christ-centered wife' as a yes, but perhaps not. One chapter in particular dealt with Schacht's issues with food, and while I LOVED her honesty, it just had nothing to do with marriage. 

BUT! That's not to say its all bad! Some chapters were pretty good, especially the latter few, like Schacht picked up speed and energy as she went. Her writing was great, smooth and comforting. I can't even count how many times I highlighted her words! There were a lot of fantastic nuggets that I want to hold onto. And as I just mentioned in the previous paragraph, she did share some personal raw insights that I really appreciated and connected with. 

Two other fantastic features of this book: each chapter was just laden down with Bible verses. Just bursting with them. And I love that! To me, that communicates that I can trust this author because she is embedded deep in the Word. I am more likely to then follow that author's advice and continue to read other books by them as well. Secondly, at the end of each section Schacht includes a S.O.A.P. section with a scripture and prayer. This helps the reader refocus on the Biblical virtue and its meaning. It also can lend the book to be read as a devotional as well, an added bonus.

Overall it was a bit of a confusing read, but well written and Biblically based. I would share it with women who are already fans of Schacht's books and blog, married Christian women, and those looking for a basic primer in virtue. I am rating it with 3.5 Stars, but please! Check this one out yourself and let me know your thoughts! So far all the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are positively glowing! 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Life of a Blogger

This is a link up with Novel Heartbeat

This week's topic: If you could live anywhere...

Honestly, at this rate, I just want to live anywhere WARM! I'm just dying for a day with temps above zero. Places I would love to choose probably include, but not limited too:



Or anyplace that looks like this:

How about you?? Where would you live if you could? So many options, it is hard to choose just one! :)

Happy Weekend!!