Friday, August 31, 2012

25/40: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and BoneDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: 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 otherwordly 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 one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored 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?

NOOOO! I have to wait 3 months for the next one??!!? Don't worry, doesn't end with a massive cliffhanger, just a lot of questions and a new storyline I can't wait to read about.

I really enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Laini Taylor has a way of pulling you in to this world of magic, art and love that makes you not want to stop reading. I felt like I read 2 books back to back the way she had the stories laid out. I kept looking at my page count and thinking that there must be a lot that happens still, I'm only halfway!

For the longest time I could not figure out who Karou was. She has amazing skills, raised by the Chimera and there is always something off about her. Aside from the mystery that surrounds her from the point of view of her friends, as a reader there was something about her I couldn't figure out. I loved the mystery around her and how everything is revealed in due time.

The story to me is split into two chunks. Karou in the present and the past historical story around Akiva. I liked that the last half of the book is all history of the worlds and what happened between the Seraphim and Chimera. How everything tied together was a surprise up to a point where everything aligned.

I can't wait for the next one. Thankful it didn't leave on a complete cliffhanger, but I have so many questions and need to know what happens next!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

24/40: The Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Omartion

The Power of a Praying WifeThe Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: The trials and pressures of modern life can make the prospect of a fulfilled, meaningful marriage seem impossible. In The Power of a Praying Wife, popular Christian author and speaker Stormie Omartian pinpoints common marital struggles and reveals the miraculous way that disciplined prayer can alleviate heartache and sustain unity. According to Omartian, a marriage's success depends upon "laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God's power to transform you, your husband, your circumstances, and your marriage." Omartian attributes the success of her own 25-year marriage to dedicated prayer for every area--however specific--of her husband's life; from his finances and his work to his integrity and his temptations. Each chapter offers insight into areas that are especially important to men, followed by "power tools" (inspiring, topical Scripture) to guide one's prayer life and transform a woman's mind with regard to her husband. This practical read will encourage women to trust God to change their spouse, and undoubtedly refocus one's perspective on God's power rather than one's own personal predicamen

Julie from Book Hooked Blog and I did a Bible study together and this was the book we chose to start. We are both married, no kids. Both God-fearing Christian woman whose faith plays a big part of their life. We both struggle with our faith at times as do most people. We figured doing a Bible study together would help us out. Get us thinking, reading the Bible, praying more and thinking about God first. There are thousands of miles between us, so our weekly (sometimes not so weekly) meetings were done through Skype. I feel like I have gotten to know her more than email and chat could over the past 8 months and thankful that we got it in our heads to take on this journey together. Thanks Julie!!

I think this book is definitely directed at a wife who has more marital experience than either of us do. I also think it's directed at a wife who struggles to keep her faith in check while caring for her kids and husband and working a 9-5 job. That said, I did find a lot of useful chapters and a lot of questions that really made me think, pray and talk about them with my husband. There were a few chapters were far more into a dark place than either of us have been in our marriage. It's hard to think about what we would do if put in those situations. The answers to all our questions was always, pray about it, but we both admitted honestly that it would most certainly NOT be our first response, or second, or even third.

I found that chapters like His Future, His Family, His Faith, etc that were very general and something that no matter husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, single, are something we can all relate to on some level.

I felt that there was a lack of actual Bible study in it. There were readings, yes. But only two or three verses in each chapter. I would probably not classify this as a Bible study and more as a Faith study. There was a lot of time spent on prayer, which was great, and thinking about situations that one may have or need to deal with. The readings were great, what little there was.

It was a good first bible study, but I don't think I'll read any of her other books in the series.

Rant: It's very frustrating trying to find a Bible study for women that isn't "You're Single" or "You're married, which also means you have kids. Because being married without kids is a unthinkable". If anyone knows of a Bible study for the "Double Income, No Kids (yet)" people, let me know!! The two churches I've gone two don't have anything either. What happened to taking care of the faithful that are getting their life together so they can provide for their future children? There are those of us out there that want to have Husband and Wife time before a family; That want to enjoy their relationship just the two of them and have a rock foundation to build a family on.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Piano Teaching

I took piano from the time I was 8 up to 18. Never missed an exam and always did quite well.
I decided earlier this year to begin teaching piano in September. I put off advertising and put off practising  my own stuff until I couldn't any longer. Fear is a crippling thing. I wasn't sure I was going to do it and almost talked myself out of it. What if I don't get any students? What if I suck? What if they hate me?

I have 5 students lined up to start in September. 5! I advertised on Kijiji. Put up a website and put an add in our community newsletter. I'm amazed that I got 5 so quickly. With working full time, 5 is about all I can manage. But thankfully it's a base to start with, get one year of teaching under my belt and see how it goes.
The plan is to teach for as long as I can. (My Nanna is 75 and still teaching.. yah. amazing right?)

I have a small library of piano books started. Another reason to buy books? Why yes! Much to my husbands dismay. The music store I go to has a Teacher Appreciation Day once a year in August. I sent a list of 28 books that I needed for this year. the other 11 I borrowed from my sisters collection. Hopefully this will be all I need for the year (other than Christmas...) and the initial shock of all those will lessen each year.
It takes a while to get a library built up especially when you have students at different levels.

Here's a picture of the stack I bought:

I am so excited to start teaching in a couple weeks. Time to make some lesson plans!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

P90X2 - Getting Mexico ready

I set some countdowns on my phone so I can start to get excited about some of vacations that are coming up. I told Frenchie the number of days to our first vacation and he said enough is enough, it's time to workout harder.

Enter P90X2 from Beach Body. Yes, Tony has a second edition. And no, it's not the Insanity DVD's, which is the comment I get from most people. That was not Tony. Frenchie tired it, and didn't like it.

This is another 3 month program with Tony Horton. 5 days a week, 2 rest days. P90X2 is split into 3 phases. Foundations (3 - 6 weeks), Strength (3 - 6 weeks) and Performance (3 - 4 weeks), plus a recovery week whenever you need it.
It gives a range since some people will need longer for each phase than others. Since I'm not doing the entire program, I'm going on Frenchie's schedule. I think he'll do a full 6 weeks in Foundations. It's the one that will get you through the next 2 phases. Without a good foundation in your body, everything else will be harder to do.

I'm very proud of Frenchie for signing himself up for the program. He loved P90x and I think he'll love this one too. For some reason, the workouts are exactly what he needs to get him motivated, give him results and keep him going.

Phase 1 - Foundations (bold are ones I'll participate in)
X2 Core
Rest or X2 Recovery + Mobility
X2 Total Body & X2 Ab Ripper
X2 Yoga
X2 Balance & Power
Rest or X2 Recovery + Mobility

I'm hoping that by doing the ones mentioned above I should get stronger and increase my flexibility.

The biggest challenge with Frenchie's weight loss program is going to be diet. He wants to lose, I want to gain. We are on exact opposites of the scale. It's hard for him to not eat when I eat, or to avoid high calorie healthy snacks because I'm eating them. On the other hand, it's hard for me to cook low calorie meals and still gain weight. It's going to be a struggle, but I think once we meal plan a little, things will get easier.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

23/40: The Girl in the Garden

The Girl in the GardenThe Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: The redemptive journey of a young woman unsure of her engagement, who revisits in memory the events of one scorching childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to an Indian village untouched by time, where she discovers in the jungle behind her ancestral house a spellbinding garden that harbors a terrifying secret.

This is another book I've read that is just ok. It took a long time for the story to go anywhere and wrapped up in the last 100 pages. And not just wrapped up, SHOVED FULL of reveals. There was too many for my liking and I thought a couple of "secrets" were a bit unnecessary.

The writing was good however. It flowed well, the description was great and I loved the setting. There was just enough description for me to picture where everyone was, what was going on and move on with the story. There were a lot of characters but the few the story followed were easy to feel for and relate to. There were quite a few outer characters that I thought would have a big part in the book but never came back into the story. It irks me when characters are introduced, but then are just left alone.

This was a book for my book club so I'm hoping there will be good discussions about it.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

22/40: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True MemoirLet's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

I had such high hopes for this book. A ton of my friends have read it, loved it, thought it was hilarious. I seem to have a vastly different type of humor I guess.
I thought it was horrible. Not funny after the first couple chapters. I found it exhausting to read and if I wasn't halfway through by the time I realized it wasn't funny, I would have stopped. (I can't quit a book after being so far in, it feels wrong)

I thought some of the stories were funny, but for the most part, absolutely ridiculous. It actually amazed me that someone who seems quite brilliant, can seem so crazy. I know this is a "mostly true memoir" so I truly hope that half the stuff in this book was extremely exaggerated.

This was definitely not one I'd be recommending.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 2012 Book Recap

What I read and started in July 2012

Books read to date: 21/40
According to my book challenge on Goodreads I am 2 books behind my goal. I need to step it up a little.


Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
I can't stop laughing out loud!

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
So far so good. 

Still Reading
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (on audio)
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

Put on Hold
The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I like it, but I have book club books that come first

Monthly savings: $21.36
Year-to-date savings: $174.40