TSS: A Week of Visitors

TSSbadge2Goodness gracious my house has been filled with guests and family this past week.  Last weekend I had two college friends stay over and we hosted a party for the SEC Championship Game.  Sadly, the Dawgs lost, but the weekend was enjoyable until the end (which I won’t delve into). Then my sis-in-law, Christina, and nephew, Mason, stayed over Monday night since Mason had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday morning.  She was immediately followed by my sister, Shay, and bro-in-law, Russell, and niece, Ashlyn, who had an appointment Wednesday morning.  BUSY.  But everything went smoothly despite the Hubs being in Tampa all week.

Needless to say, not  much blogging got done, but a good amount of reading was had!!  This week should be filled with posts! I managed to watch some movies this week – The Vow, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and Pocahontas.  An odd mixture, for sure, but fun.  I’m currently reading In the Woods by Tana French which I’ve never read before!

In amazing, awesome news, I’ve recently scored my first job interview for Monday at 1:30.  Fingers crossed this opportunity comes through because the interviews are not rolling steadily in by any means.  I have a 1.5 year gap in my resume which generally lands it in the trash despite my graduating with honors and CPA certification.  Anyway, this opportunity is for an accountant in a real estate investment company which is what I know.  My old job was also real estate accounting, just from an auditing perspective.  I’ve got to rock this interview!

Hopefully, we’ll be getting our Christmas tree today.  We are so late on getting it up this year, but our outside decorations have been up for awhile. Once everything is decorated, I’ll post some pictures!

Hope everyone is having a fabulous December Sunday!



Cinder by Marissa Meyer

11235712I’ve had such an intense love/hate relationship with YA fiction this year.  And even the supposedly awesome selections weren’t as amazing as I had hoped they would be.  I’m not sure why this is because normally reading 10-15 YA books a year is like crack to me.  Love me some YA.  But this year, not so much. (I’d love some recommendations of amazing YA if you’ve got them!)

However, Cinder was definitely a bright spot.  Soaked it right up – literally read in 1.5 sittings.  It’s a modern re-telling of Cinderella – very well done.  The story takes place far in the future after many world wars have changed the face and politics of planet Earth.  Cinder lives in New Beijing (old Beijing was destroyed) and is a cyborg.  She’s human, but with robotic parts.  She’s also a kick ass mechanic and her best friend is an android.  Her world is rocked when her youngest stepsister comes down with this pandemic plague virus that currently has no cure and Cinder becomes very important in the search for said cure.  Meanwhile, she’s also battling an evil stepmother, stepsister, alien Lunar Queen (you read that right), and her burgeoning crush on the gorgeous Prince Kai.

Most of YA is plot driven and Cinder is no different.  Meyer’s debut novel excels at pacing, story, and characters you come to really care about.  Her take on this fairy tale classic has all the original and essential elements – just with awesomely updated twists.  Plus, the Lunars’ story line adds something new and entirely fresh to enhance what could have merely been a super predictable re-telling.  Aliens, cyborgs, and handsome princes – yes, please!

Cinder endears herself to readers almost effortlessly.  You’ll be touched by her relationships with Peony and Iko and appalled by her stepmonster and the evil bitch queen.  But most importantly, you will CARE.  The romance element, which normally loses me in YA with all the insta-love, is well done here.  This is not love at first site and marriage after first kiss.  Kai and Cinder slowly get to know one another – Meyer actually just lets them crush for the whole book! Almost unheard of and absolutely appreciated.

I also loved Meyer’s world-building and that her story doesn’t take place in America. The Chinese setting lends a bit of mystique and flavor to the novel for those of us who haven’t grown up there or visited. Between China and the Moon, Meyer’s really stepping away from the norm of other YA novels which wins her a ton of points in my book.  I do hope that we learn a bit more about these world wars in future books.

Some readers might complain about the predictability of the story, but it didn’t bother me too much.  While I did see almost every plot twist well ahead of time, I enjoyed the journey regardless.  I looked forward to reading how Meyer’s unsuspecting characters would discover the truths and how these new realities would change and affect their lives.

Most importantly, I had so much fun reading Cinder and can’t wait for Scarlet, the second book in this 4 part series.  The idea of multiple fairy tale heroines teaming up together is exciting and superhero-ish in the best way.  Highly recommended for when you need some fast paced brain candy filled with action, political intrigue, and old-fashioned princesses getting a kick ass modern update.  Plus, the cover is GORGEOUS.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

11030772You guys, I loved this book as a little girl.  The Secret Garden was my Narnia.  That gate in the wall was my magical wardrobe.  Both the 1993 movie and the book were just like comfort blankets.  And re-reading 20 or so years later was an absolute treat – especially during this holiday season.  Cozy, warm, and filled with childhood nostalgia.

The plot is fairly simple.  A young, spoiled, and completely neglected child loses her parents to illness in India and moves back to Britain to live with her uncle.  As she’s adapting to life on the moor, she meets Dickon – an almost magical boy who communes with animals – and discovers an invalid cousin hidden away in a dusty old corridor bedroom.  The three children, plus one old gardener, spend the spring and summer coming back to life again in a garden that has been locked away for an entire decade.  LOVE IT.

Burnett writes beautifully and her imagery leaps from the pages.  I could feel the sunshine soaking into the grass, smell the newly sprung foliage and bountiful flowers, and hear the birds chirping as they built their nests.  In contrast, the dark, aging house was just as tangible.  I loved the the juxtaposition of the lively outdoors and stillness of the manor’s interiors.  Such a great setting and atmosphere.

The story, while rather basic, was still heartwarming and peaceful.  Yes, the ending is fairly saccharine, but charming none-the-less.  Children’s books need to end happily-ever-after and with the idea that anything can happen – that magic is all around – and that the natural world has great value and healing powers.  How many kids even know what a garden is any more?

The characters are lively and fun, frustrating and pitiable without being victims.  Mary Lennox is a little devil who becomes so much more; Dickon is fantastical and such a stereotype bending boy; Colin proves that children are impressionable and unbelievably determined at the same time.  Even all the adults are an absolute delight.

I highly recommend revisiting The Secret Garden if you’ve forgotten this long lost best friend.  And if you’ve never found your way to Burnett’s magical world, you’re in for a treat!  A great novel to read in winter and dream about the coming spring!  And everyone deserves the Penguin Threads edition because I suppose it is as gorgeous as the garden it harbors!


cropped-classicsclub3Another one bites the dust!!