Reality TV

Open Book BH 2This week we’re talking about reality television on the Blog Hop.

In some cases I enjoy reality TV. Shows like Undercover Boss and Who Do You Think You Are? are wonderful and in a lot of cases make me cry. I was watching one episode of Undercover Boss where they were at a water park and when the owner revealed herself and started handing out college education and raises, I seriously started crying.

There are other cases, though, and it is they that give reality TV a bad name. Stuff like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Bad Girls Club is almost entirely trash. Spoiled rich people acting spoiled is not my idea of a good time, especially when there are way better shows to watch. Some shows, like 16 and Pregnant may actively promote teen pregnancy because they glorify it and gloss over important things like how teenage mothers have to drop out of school and often end up on welfare or food stamps. And shows like Toddlers and Tiaras…I just don’t have the words.

I also tend to like shows like Pawn Stars or Storage Wars where people find crazy stuff buried in junk (I used to be a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow). Not only do you get to see cool collectibles and treasures you also get to learn the history behind them in a lot of cases, which is pretty great too.

There are some shows that kind of walk the line for me. I like watching Hoarders but feel kind of guilty about it, and I love the art of Miami Ink and LA Ink but could really do without the drama. Drama makes shows like Kitchen Nightmares fun but if I have to watch one more episode of Say Yes to the Dress I will throw something.

So I guess I’m kind of in two minds about reality TV! Everyone has their own favorite show, I’m not about to judge you. Unless you watched Honey Boo Boo. Then we’re breaking up.

Want to share your opinions? Join the blog hop!
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Blue LadyJust because Christmas is over doesn’t mean that Stephany Tullis doesn’t have anything for you to read! Blue Lady is another of her great books, and you can find it here at Amazon!

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Lazy Lazy Week

Happy New Year! I hope 2016 is super for you – it’s going to be exciting for me!

I have been so incredibly lazy this last week, due to my sinking myself into a side project and being completely engrossed in the Flawed series, so I don’t have a finished project to show off. Instead, I have a couple of halfway made WIPs that I am embarrassedly showing you.

Pastel Sweater

First up, half of a baby sweater. I decided I was going to make another one in pastel because I have a ton of purple and white yarn left over from the polka dot baby blanket and I thought it would be fun to make one in a smaller size. This is what I finished a couple of days ago before I threw everything aside to read Outsider.

Scarfy

Second half-finished project is a super-chunky scarf that I’m crocheting for a gift basket! It’s really bulky and warm, and I can’t wait for it to become someone’s new favorite scarf. I like crocheting with bulky yarn because it works up quickly and you can see the detail in the stitches, which makes double crochet look totally fancy.

I’m going to finish these projects over the weekend with any luck (definitely the scarf, maybe on the baby sweater) so I can move on to working on the Christmas Exchange blanket…a week after Christmas.

I never said I was punctual.

Next week my crochet posts move to Wednesday, my Open Book posts to Monday, and I’m going to really try to do a Friday writing post. Thursdays are going to be book review days. One of my 2016 goals is to read a book every week, so I’ll be on the lookout for new stuff. I don’t like to be pinned to any one genre, so there’s always the possibility that I’ll tell you all about Stephen King’s newest at some point. You’ve been warned!

Book Review: Outsider (Flawed Series #2)

OutsiderAll his life Josh has felt a little bit like an outsider in his family, and it only gets worse when his two siblings end up with special powers and he remains painfully normal. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s about to get a crash course in what it means to be one of the special Schuylers.

This is the second book in the Flawed series, and it started out a little differently. Instead of one of the Schuyler siblings that have their own special powers, it’s about Josh, the one sibling who was completely normal and a little introverted compared to his brother and sister. It was interesting to see how the others were viewed through his lens of “normalcy,” especially when he’d always felt a little left out.

Once again we are taken through a villian’s perspective in each of the chapters, only this time he met the siblings and their friend Alex almost immediately, with disastrous consequences that also revealed that Alex had a power of her own. Josh was really feeling left out by this point and I felt really bad for him until he had what they should just call a “Schuyler Family Incident” and things completely turned upside down for him.

One thing that kind of bugged me about Outsider (that didn’t bug me in the previous book) was how irritating Chloe became once we spent more time with her. She seemed completely oblivious to the emotions of everyone around her and always got her way. Whether this was just something we were seeing from Josh’s perspective remains to be seen, since her other brother Cam seemed to adore her and want to protect her all the time.

You definitely need to have read the first Flawed book, Empath, in order to fully enjoy this book. Many of the characters that she introduced in it are brought back here with little to no backstory, so it’s not a standalone by any means. In a way, I like it because I don’t have to read the same story over, especially since I just read Empath.

When Josh finally developed his power was when things got really exciting, and it wasn’t long after that the villain(s!) caught up with Alex in a very similar way to how Jade was trapped in Empath. It was more creepy and unsettling than in the first book, however, because there was more description of the violence. It would be easier to say that Outsider was more violent, but that would only be because Campbell went into greater detail.

The ending had me gasping in frustration again, and I can’t wait to see a couple of characters get what’s coming to them. I can only hope it’s in the next book, Protector, because I’m starting it tomorrow. What I’m going to do when I actually have to wait for the next book (providing there will be one) is beyond me.

Check it out on Amazon!

Book Review: Empath (Flawed Series #1)

Empath

Ever since she was a child, Jade has had to deal with an empathetic power so strong that her first day of school started with convulsions. Since then she has been protected by her family and her own fear of herself, but all that changed when her college didn’t offer an online version of a course she needed. Thanks to that, she met Cam Schuyler and his welcoming siblings but at the same time something dangerous is hiding around the corner.

I really liked this book! I was hooked right away, not just by Jade but by the mystery of the sadistic serial killer whose story was told right alongside hers. I was really interested to see how the two of them would end up in each other’s worlds, especially since she had such heightened empathetic power and he was just plain terrifying. But whereas Jade’s story was told pretty much right away, Ethan’s took a little longer to tease out.

The supporting characters were fun people, from Jade’s friends from home to the Schuylers that kind of become her family, and though I’m not sure I could handle hanging around with them too often they really did make a good counterpoint to Jade’s reclusiveness due to her “handicap,” as she puts it.

I really liked Logan, one of the love interests, right from the start, which was why I was disappointed that after a couple of chapters that heavily featured him, he sort of disappeared for a third of the book and apart from Jade talking about him he was just kind of gone. It made me wonder if he was going to be the subject of another book in the series and not explored further.

I’m not going to give anything away, but the ending was really exciting once the serial killer and the friends’ worlds finally collided! Once I got there I couldn’t put my reader down, and though the ending was satisfying I was dying to find out where one of the characters was headed. Literally.

Empath is a fun, quick read and I think it is the beginning of what promises to be a great series of books. You should definitely check it out on Amazon!

Book Review: Hesitation Wounds

Hesitation WoundsDr. Susanna Seliger is a renowned psychiatrist who specializes in treatment-resistant depression. The most difficult cases come through her door, and Susa is always ready to discuss treatment options, medication, and symptom management but draws the line at engaging with feelings. A strict adherence to protocol keeps her from falling apart but she is haunted by  feelings that she could have helped the people closest to her.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is beautifully written and intensely sad. Not surprising, considering it’s a story about a doctor who works with treatment-resistant depression and ECT, but Hesitation Wounds is more about the emptiness inside the doctor than the sadness of her patients.

The first person perspective plus her writing style made me feel like I was reading a very long series of blog posts. This is not to say it was a bad thing, just that it felt less like a story than a confessional. I found myself wondering if there were parts that weren’t strictly fictional, because it felt so deep and personal.

At first I thought we would be spending more time with Jim, the young man introduced early in the story as one of Susa’s patients. He seemed to be very important to her and I was certain that he was going to be the thing that helped her resolve her own lingering guilt and depression, so I was a little surprised things went the way they did.

Her history with her family unfolded slowly, with only hints of the incident with her brother given that sent me off into a completely different direction than what actually happened. It was satisfying because it gave me time to get comfortable with the characters and feel for them before I fully knew their stories. It also made certain aspects of her youth more heartbreaking, especially where her brother’s friend Ray is concerned.

The second half of the book felt more hopeful, and I felt my spirits lift with hers when Susa met her daughter and said goodbye to her cheating ex. It wasn’t long before the heaviness of the first half crept back in, but it couldn’t cover the happiness she felt when she talked about her little girl. The ending continued on in this way and brought tears to my eyes, seeing her come full circle as she did.

I really enjoyed this book on a lot of levels, but I do have to warn people that the subject matter might be a trigger for someone with depression or anxiety, and there are frank discussions of suicide. It’s not an easy book to read at times but I’m glad I have it in my collection. There are times you just want something a little deeper, and Hesitation Wounds delivers with a punch.

Pick it up at Amazon!

The Sweater That Ate My Life

I saw this adorable little sweater in The Crochet Crowd and decided that since I had never made a piece of clothing before and I was cocky from the firefighter outfit I was going to challenge myself to make it. So I got out my trusty iPad and headed over to Michael’s for some yarn.

I’m not a huge fan of pastels, so I bought one skein each of the Caron Simply Soft – the brand recommended by Crochet Crowd – in Dark Country Blue, Iris, and Pagoda. My little one is wearing mostly 18 month stuff so I chose the 24 month size because I usually crochet kind of tightly and play fast and loose with gauge, and I figured it would come out smaller than the measurements. Crochet Crowd made the 6 month size and said one skein was plenty but said they might need 2 skeins for bigger sizes.

We were watching a movie last Friday evening and I decided to start it then, but when I had to break out the stitch markers I knew this wasn’t going to be something I could do while watching TV. My husband started playing a video game, so I was able to concentrate much better and I got a good portion of the bodice made.

image

Our work holiday outing was the next day and it took us an hour to get to Dallas in our party bus, so I crocheted while we all chatted and had our annual Frozen sing-a-long. I got almost all of the bodice finished and when I got home I got one round of the puff stitches in before bed, completely confident in the fact that I could blow through this sweater on Sunday. What I didn’t realize was that the 11-round pattern repeated multiple times. Oops.image

I worked hard on it for the next couple of days, even taking it to work so I could finish it on Tuesday to post about it. Then tragedy struck. While I was making one of the sleeves, I was distracted by the movie we were watching (nope, didn’t learn my lesson) and forgot to turn it every row to get the right pattern. I had to frog a quarter of a sleeve and was pretty bummed about it. I started the sleeve over and got halfway through before I figured out that the sleeve was REALLY wide and I had somehow managed to increase 15 stitches. I frogged that and was about ready to throw the damn thing across the room but was determined to finish it.

imageI finally finished it yesterday! I really love the way the colors came out. I ended up shortening the sleeves a little because otherwise they would completely cover the baby’s hands and she’ll have outgrown it by next winter. I think it’ll look really cute on her!

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Here’s a little detail of the neck. I had to learn a new stitch for this; the crab stitch, also known as the reverse single crochet, and it was kind of frustrating at first but I got the hang of it. I added a little purple stripe to the arms to go with it, and added a couple of rounds at the bottom so it ended with purple. It’s so cute!

I’m planning on making another one with some leftover baby yarn in the 6 month size to see how it comes out with thinner yarn, and because I had a good time with it. For now I need to start planning my friend’s baby gift. I found some cute, cute patterns and my secret Santa gave me a gift card to Michaels so I can’t wait to make it!

If you’d like to try this one for yourself, you can find it at Yarnspirations and there’s a tutorial video at The Crochet Crowd!

A Very Uninteresting Holiday

Open Book BH 2

This week on the Open Book Blog Hop we’re talking about how we spend the holidays!

Because of my job (and my husband’s as well), we don’t really do much for the holidays. He’s not allowed to request time off in November or December, and my job requires a shift at work on holidays. No exceptions, everyone has to put in their shift and we’re all anxious to get out as soon as possible but we stay until the work is done so I never know just when I’m getting out.

Last year my husband was over on the East Coast, and his half of the family spent their time with their kids who were in the state so I pretty much kept to myself, went to work, and came home. My father is a certified workaholic and he has a key to his work’s shop, so we went to dinner and exchanged gifts but didn’t spend much time together.

This year – now that my husband is back in town – my mother in law is coming to take us to dinner and exchange gifts, and I’m sure at some point I’ll get in touch with my father for some of the same. We’ll see my father in law and stepmother too, but I’m not sure when. My work shifts vary so it’s hard to make very definite plans and honestly, after I come home I just want a shower and something to eat.

My husband and I celebrated in our own way last weekend. We went to the used book store and each picked out a few items, swapped them, and paid for each other. Not the most exciting of events and definitely not a surprise, but it makes us happy and we don’t feel pressured to find “the right gift.” I’m just happy to have him back this year so I can say “Happy Christmas” to him when we wake up on Christmas morning (my shift is in the evening)!

48 HoursBefore you check out the other blog posts, you should check out Stephany Tullis’ very appropriate 48 Hours ‘Til Christmas.

Christmas music, holiday food and festivities, and a few angelic hosts make this Christmas novel a holiday favorite; a beautiful story about the magic of Christmas, the strength of family and friends and the power of forgiveness.

Check it out on Amazon!

 

Want to share your holiday plans?
Rules:
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4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
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The Chex Mix of Romance Fiction