Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reading Wednesday - The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

This book is very raw. It covers some topics that many authors shy away from, especially in novels geared towards high school students. Although the story is about Alice, it is told from the perspective of four other students. The entire school believes that Alice slept with two guys (on the same night!) at a party, and then, a couple of weeks later, caused the death of their star quarterback.

Elise is the most popular girl in the school. While confident in who she is, she's still very critical of her own body. Her mother often makes her go to Weight Watchers, and Elise can list the Weight Watchers point associated with pretty much everything she eats.

Kelsie moved from Flint, Michigan, and used to be Alice's best friend. Now she has the opportunity to climb the social ladder and leave Alice in the dust.

Josh was best friends with Brandon, the star quarterback who died in a car crash allegedly caused by Alice's inappropriate texts. He struggles to come to terms with friend's death and through him we see another perspective on Alice.

Kurt is the nobody braniac who would rather sit in isolation reading physics theories than socialize with others who live in his small town. He lived next door to Brandon, and he's been watching and observing everyone from the outside.

I love how this book pieces together a story from four very different perspectives. The voice given to each character is strong and very well written. While I'm not sure I enjoyed the story (just due to the drinking, underage sex, abortion, etc.), you can't deny that the author is talented, and I look forward to picking up another one of her books. I give it a four out of five stars.

(This book is definitely for high school age or older. For me, it is probably a college-aged book, simply because I was a pretty innocent high schooler. As in, the most sexual suggestive book I'd ever read in high school was one of the Twilight novels.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

6 Series to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

For some reason I seem to have an obsession with sweet-themed book series. So here are six different series (for different ages) that can satisfy your sweet tooth. 😊

If I've written reviews for any of these, they will be linked below.

Confectionately Yours by Papademetriou

This is a super cute series about a seventh grader who spends a lot of time in her grandmother's tea shop/bakery. I've only read the first one (review forthcoming), but it seems like a great series. The main character is struggling with the relationship with her two best friends as they are all discovering who they are as people. She is also dealing with her parent's divorce. She takes her experiences and turns them into unique cupcakes - which you could even make yourself as the recipes are included.

1. Save the Cupcake! (review coming soon)
2. Taking the Cake!
3. Sugar and Spice
4. Something New

Love and Chocolate by Farr

This is an adult romance series that follows the family and friends of a large chocolate corporation. While baking/sweets isn't a huge part of the series past the first book, it was still a fun way to meet all of the characters involved.

1. Corporate Husband
2. Marry the Doctor
3. Something Sweet

Bachelors of Buttermilk Falls by Neeley

I loved this series! It is a super cute series that takes place in the fictional town of Buttermilk Falls. Once a week, the owner of a local bakery holds "batter up" night, where she picks one lucky bachelor to have their true love's name spelled out in her cupcake batter. There's a lot of mix up and magical confusion that happens in this series, and I enjoyed reading it. (This is adult reading level as well.)

1. Batter Up
2. Tangled Up
3. Kiss and Make Up
4. Holiday Hook Up

Cupcake Club by Kauffmann

This is another adult level romance that takes place in a super small ficitonal town called Sugarberry. I've only read the first book in this series, which follows a girl named Leilani who has recently moved to the town and is trying to get her bakery off of the ground with such a small local clientele. It was a pretty classic romance, so nothing too exciting, but the cupcakes were cool. :)

1. Sugar Rush
2. Sweet Stuff
3. Babycakes
4. Honey Pie

Cupcake Queen by Helper

It's been a while since I read the first book in this series, but if I remember correctly, it's an upper middle grade/young adult novel. I won't try to review it, because I don't remember it, but it's another one to add to the "sweet" list of novels!

1. The Cupcake Queen
2. Frosted Kisses

French Twist by Byrd

I'm not 100% sure, but this may have been the series that kicked off my whole obsession with bakery themed books. I liked this series because it doesn't follow your typical romance plot, nor does it follow a bakery that is super successful without a lot of hard work. It's realistic and has more of an overarching plot throughout the three books. Plus, there are a lot of options as to where the books are going. I know the main character works with many chefs that speak french as a native language (and not English, like her), and I love that the books address the language and cultural barriers she faces while working in her environment.

1. Let Them Eat Cake
2. Bon Appetit
3. Piece de Resistance

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

This is book three in the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer. Unfortunately, it's been long enough since I read the first two that I really had no idea what had happened going into this book. It was still great, but I definitely recommend reading them closer together instead of years apart. :P

I'm also going to issue a spoiler warning for the first two books because I don't remember what was revealed and what was already known through those.

This book follows Hunter, a "guide" - someone who can sense other elementals, but who is encouraged to eliminate them. The elementals he is familiar with are all other teenagers in his hometown who can each control one element; air, earth, water, or fire. He struggles to balance everything going on with his life. His mother and grandfather mistreat him, especially since other students are framing him for crimes he did not commit. He works to reconcile what he knows about the other elementals with what he's always been told about them - that they're dangerous. He's also intrigued by a new girl in town who seems to have something to hide.

I liked this book, if only because it diverged from my recent streak of romance novels. Although it did have a romance plot line, it focused more on the paranormal aspects of Hunter's life. It gets a four out of five, because it was pretty fantastic.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Guardian Angel Cathedral (Las Vegas, Nevada)

If you're visiting Las Vegas and want to attend mass, there's a great church right at the end of the strip by the Wynn and Encore.

The thing that struck me most about this church is that it is very triangle. The entire building is shaped like a giant triangle (no doubt in homage to the holy trinity). The giant triangle then opens up into other triangles over the windows.

A couple of months later, my parents went to Las Vegas and ended up going to the same church. Except they didn't remember it as triangle at all! They only remembered the "new agey" mural.

That's pretty much all I've got. Know of any other churches I should check out next time I'm in the Vegas area?

💗 Annette

5 years ago: Our Lady of Einseldeln Archabbey (Einseldeln, Switzerland)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Ick

So I try a lot of random drinks, and most of them are quite delicious. However, some of them are just not worth it. So to save you some time, here are three drinks I tried and didn't like.

1. This Kombucha drink. It tastes like fizzy apple cider vinegar. Blech. Yeah, yeah, I know some people like it, and I know it's supposedly healthy for you, but I couldn't get past a sip or two of it.

2.  This cranberry juice cocktail. I know that cranberry juice is supposed to be tart, but since the first ingredient (other than water) was high fructose corn syrup I was sort of hoping it'd be sweeter. This drink was so tart it was almost bitter. I gave it a second chance and mixed the juice with Sprite, but all that did was ruin my Sprite.

3. This watermelon drink. I was so, so excited when I saw this in the store. It looks light and refreshing, and it's watermelon flavored. Perfect, right? No. While I am impressed they manage to suspend the little watermelon particles in the drink, the balance of flavors is off. It's too sweet, but not in a delicious sort of way. It has a weird aftertaste too. It's not the worst drink in the world, but I probably wouldn't pick it up again.

Any other drinks I need to avoid?

💗 Annette

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pool Excersizes

Hello! So now that summer's here (in Arizona, at least), I've been trying out some new pool exercises, and I wanted to review them for you, so you can takes some new tips and tricks with you to your next swim.

I found the exercises here, and for this post I'm going to review the first five that you can do without a fancy pool weight.

1. Bicycle
I liked this one a lot. It's simple and I could do it from the step at the edge of the pool. You might not feel it for the first minute or two you do it, but then it starts to burn! Plus, it beats a stationary bicycle because you won't be as sweaty. :)

2. Double Leg Lift
I tried this one, but I must not have been doing it right. It didn't feel much like an exercise at all.

3. Half Suspended Jumping Jack
This one is okay, but I'd recommend doing it with a one-piece or a snug two-piece. I definitely didn't do this one around other people, because it looks sort of weird. Have fun with it though! :P

4. Flutter Kick
When I got tired of holding myself up for bicycling, I flipped over and started to flutter kick. This is another super simple one that packs quite a punch.

5. Frog jump
This one is another one I didn't want to do around people. It is a lot of fun though! Ribbit! Ribbit! :D

I plan on slowly working my way through all thirty or so exercises on the list. Do you know of any favorite swimming pool exercises I can try?

💗 Annette

5 years ago: Healthy Thursday Food and Workouts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Pure Leaf Pomegranate Tea

I find this drink pretty refreshing and not too crazy sweet. It's not a smooth as drinks such as Peace Tea or Arizona Iced Tea, but if you like the drinks that taste more like tea (and not just sugar), than you'll probably like this one. The flavor is a little bit tart and decently fruity, like a pomegranate. As someone who is a fan of super sugary drinks, I probably wouldn't drink this on a daily basis, but it's fun to pick up every once in a while, especially if you need to cleanse your palate.

💗 Annette

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