Tuesday Treasure Trove  September 1, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

Today marks the start of September. Which, among other things, means I get married THIS MONTH. !!!! Actually, most everything is taken care of by now. August was NUTS, but productive, so now I can [try to] relax for the next very few weeks before the big day. The shops are going into vacation mode today, and I’m going to schedule a few book reviews, but otherwise this blog will probably also go quiet for a few weeks. Have no fear, though! There will be an explosion of picture posts when the wedding and honeymoon have passed.

Speaking of honeymoon, for some of our time we’ll be staying in Airbnb rentals. Neither the boy nor I have ever used Airbnb before, so we’ll see how this go. But what better way to get a bit of European charm on vacation than by staying in an actual home? We picked places that had good pictures, good locations, and good host reviews, so fingers crossed!

Now to go hunt down those last pesky RSVPs.

What will you be up to in September?

Tuesday Treasure Trove  August 11, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

So, it’s supposed to get up to 105 today. This is a problem. See, the boy and I have tickets to a baseball game, as per usual for our anniversary. Baseball games are outdoors. And if I remember correctly, our seats are going to be directly facing the sun (until it goes down). Kind of thinking maybe we’ll just go long enough to grab a hotdog and soda (consumed in the shade!) and then take off? We did other fun anniversary stuff on Sunday, our actual anniversary, so the occasion was celebrated. It’s just… guys, I live in Austin and am used to some heat, but 105 is ridiculous!

This all caused me to look up average temperatures for our wedding date next month. Anywhere from 64 to 88. Hrm. Let’s aim for 75-80, sky, how does that sound?

Are you feeling the burn of climate change where you are?

Taking Stock  August 10, 2015

Sienna reluctant to leave her cushy bed. Possibly her favorite birthday present ever.

Sienna reluctant to leave her cushy bed. Possibly her favorite birthday present ever.

Taking a page from Pip’s book and using this list to do a life snapshot.

Making: myself take deep breaths and consciously relax my tense muscles.
Cooking: nothing. No energy for cooking. We are living in a frozen food or fast food land right now.
Drinking: My usual morning French vanilla cappuccino.
Reading: the various news email subscriptions I get.
Wanting: to go back to sleep. I wasn’t ready for Monday.
Looking: at my planner and my Trello boards, and kind of panicking at how full they are.
Playing: lately I’ve been playing the Talos Principle via Steam, and I quite like it. Puzzle games are my jam. Guaranteed to distract me/get my head wrapped around something else for awhile.
Deciding: So many things. All the wedding and honeymoon things. All the new-business-after-name-change things.
Wishing: my dream client existed (creative work, fun brand, interesting product/service, huge budget, prefers freelancer to agency).
Enjoying: the quiet around the house while Sienna spends the day at PetSmart.
Waiting: to get my headshots by Chelsea back. We had a fun mini session on Saturday, and I’m excited to see how they turned out!
Liking: home-made fudge topping on ice cream.
Wondering: if stress/anxiety can actually cause seriously sensitive skin.
Loving: what we ended up doing for our 6-year anniversary yesterday. We did dim sum for lunch, then went to a local vineyard for a wine tasting, and then just hung out together at home.
Pondering: ways to drum up more business, in this my slow season.
Considering: the wording for all of my business website pages.
Watching: Homeland with the boy, and Charmed on my own.
Hoping: for more people to RSVP to the wedding! We’re at a 45% response rate so far.
Marvelling: at how quickly time is flying. The wedding is 6 weeks from yesterday. !!!
Needing: like a week vacation where I can just sleep and read and Netflix and nothing else.
Smelling: Nothing right now. Just normal house smell.
Wearing: jeans and a black tee and silver necklace.
Following: interesting people on Twitter.
Noticing: the weather forecast for the week and holy crap it’s supposed to be 105 today and tomorrow. !!!
Knowing: I’m probably overthinking or overreacting to wedding-related things but I can’t help it. At this point I’m just stressed and there have already been so many things I had to change, any more changes/things going wrong sets me off.
Thinking: we should have eloped. Kidding. Sort of.
Admiring: people who do event planning for a living. Very high pressure/stressful a job, I don’t know how they do it.
Sorting: all of the wedding stuff for the crap ton of appointments I have this week, for what needs to get dropped off where.
Buying: a shorter leash for Sienna, and some cardstock for wedding programs.
Getting: our tickets printed for our traditional anniversary baseball game date tomorrow (closest home game date to our actual anniversary).
Bookmarking: things for Tuesday Treasure Trove tomorrow.
Disliking: how the stress of the wedding is overshadowing my excitement about getting married. Because I am still very happy to be marrying Ian.
Opening: new browser windows, all the time.
Giggling: over inside jokes/commentary with Ian after our wine tasting yesterday was fun. :)
Feeling: tired but determined.


How are you doing lately?

Book Review: Magonia  August 7, 2015

Magonia (#1)

by Maria Dahvana Headley.

magonia Let me just take a minute to point out that gorgeous cover. Beautiful, no? And a good reminder on the importance of cover design. I had never heard of this book or author, but came across this cover on Pinterest or somewhere, and had to look it up. And then read it. And I’m glad I did, because it is a unique book.

Aza Ray has suffered from a mysterious lung disease since she was 1 year old. The prognosis is not good- it’s gotten steadily worse over the years, and doctors are surprised she’s lived this long. As her 16th birthday approaches, things get worse, and weird. Her new meds cause her to hallucinate, everybody says. What else would explain the ship she saw in the sky, and voices calling her name, and birds acting strangely? Her best friend Jason is the only one who believes her. He stumbles across some old legends of a land called Magonia, where a race of beings live in ships in the sky. Aza’s lungs start to fail once again, and suddenly she finds herself snatched into a whole new world, where she can breath normally for the first time. And she learns that nothing she thought about her life or world was as it seemed.

This is not your usual fantasy book, and I love that about it. The land and people who inhabit earth’s skies aren’t quite like any other fantasy civilization I’ve come across. They have an interesting mix of magic and technology that helps keep them hidden and afloat, and lets them do some pretty cool things (like flying!). We don’t get a full picture in book 1, but it seems life in the skies is not exactly heavenly. I also liked the contrast with what was happening back on earth, through Jason’s eyes. And the overall language was very poetic and vivid.

For me, though, the characters fell a bit short. Aza spent most of the time floundering, just being passive and letting things happen to her, which is not what I like to see in a main character. Jason was more interesting and proactive, but the book didn’t focus on him. And with the introduction of another young man in Magonia, there is the oh-so-overdone-in-YA love triangle gearing up, which I am heartily sick of. And the character who drove most of the plot/action in the latter half of the book- I never really understood where it was coming from or what the real motivation/end goal was.

But so many of the details of this book’s world were unexpected, that I enjoyed it for just that reason. The underlying idea and premise was something new and interesting, and for that alone, I’d like to see where the series go.

If you like unusual fantasy YA and have ever dreamed of flying, give this a try.

Also see this fun What Is Your Magonia Name? chart. Mine is Milekt Quel.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

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Tuesday Treasure Trove  August 4, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

It’s less than 7 weeks til the wedding, which basically means my brain wants to collapse into mush. But it’s not allowed, because August is the Month of Final Coordinating Meetings with pretty much every possible vendor. Ok, not every vendor. But just next week, I have 3 wedding-related appointments/meetings. And then my bridal shower that weekend (woo!), so it’s not all bad. It just feels like a lot. Because it is a lot. Mush-brain me is afraid she’s going to forget something. Also, summer is my slow time for business and this is also the month where a lot of the final wedding bills come due and let’s just say that’s a bit of a source of stress. I need a massage, but that costs money, too. Ha! I am still super excited and happy to be marrying Ian, but I’m also starting to understand what people mean when they say they were glad when the wedding was over.

Ok, enough whining. What’s new in your world?

Book Review: We Never Asked for Wings  July 30, 2015

We Never Asked for Wings

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

We Never Asked for Wings Longtime readers may remember my review of Diffenbaugh’s other novel, which netted a rare 4.5/5 star review. So it should come as no surprise that I jumped on the chance to read an advanced copy of her new book, out next month.

We Never Asked for Wings is similar to The Language of Flowers in that it deals with a troubled soul finally learning to cope. And it again has beautiful language and great storytelling. But that’s where the similarities end. Wings tells the story of Letty Espinosa, a young single mother struggling to make ends meet. Until now, she’s relied on her mother to raise her two kids (Alex and Luna). But with her parents’ decision to move back to Mexico, Letty finds herself suddenly in charge, in a way she’s never had to be before. A good portion of the book focuses on her struggles to learn how to be a responsible adult, then how to be a good parent, all while working, tentatively stepping back into the dating pool, and trying to realize the potential cut short when she got pregnant as a teenager. It’s understandably a lot to handle, and there are some missteps. I’ll admit I didn’t really like Letty as a character at first, because she was just so clueless about really simply parenting things. But she grew on me.

The other parts of the book focus on her teenage son, Alex, as he navigates high school, his first real crush, learning about his father, and helping take care of his little sister. He’s skeptical of his mother’s ability to actually be a parent, with good reason at first. But then she comes up with a plan to get them out of their bad neighborhood, and her kids into a better school. It’s a risky plan, but if it works it would life-changing for them all.

The balance of perspectives between Letty and Alex is nice, and gives an unvarnished look at what it’s like to be smart but poor in America. The picture Diffenbaugh paints of this drab stretch of land and bad neighborhood where they live is very vivid, and a bit depressing. There are some pretty great supporting characters- particularly a small family of undocumented immigrants who become very important to the Espinosas. It’s an emotionally charged book, but not so rough that it’ll make you cry.

This book officially comes out on August 18th. If you like strong contemporary fiction that doesn’t shy away from social issues, give this a try.

I give it 4/5 stars.

I received a free advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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We Never Asked for Wings