Friday, April 23, 2010

A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty is a YA novel and the first of a trilogy by Libba Bray. I listened to this on audiobook and I loved the way the narrorator, Josephine Bailey, portrayed each character. I have a hard time reading accents in my head, and the audiobook gave me a great idea of each characters' voices and personalities.
This book is about a 16-year-old girl named Gemma who has spent most of her life in India. One day, she witnessed in a vision her mother being murdered which turns out to be true. She is then shipped off to London to attend Spence Academy, an elite Victorian boarding school where she meets 3 girls, Felicity, Pippa, and Ann. After blackmailing her and her roomate Ann into joining Felicity and Pippa's clique, the 4 girls become friends. While at Spence, Gemma encounters a child-like spirit who gives her a diary of a former student, Mary Dowd, where she talks about an Order that Mary and her friend Sarah are a part of....and that Gemma later discovers her mother is also a part of. Gemma leads her 3 friends to the realms where she finds herself with her own magical powers.
I really enjoyed listening to this book as it made my commute to and from work pleasant. It was interesting following the adventures of Gemma, Felicity, Pippa, and Ann and learning more and more about the magical powers and the Order. It had a very interesting twist toward end that I literally gasped out loud. I recommend this book for anybody who loves YA and paranormal fiction. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alabama Book Festival

On Saturday I went with my good friends from to the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery. It was a great event with authors, books, booths, and more. We saw three authors there: Rachel Hawkins, Irene Latham, and Daniel Wallace. We heard them speak about their books and we even got them to sign our copies for us. I will break them down starting with Rachel Hawkins.

Rachel Hawkins is a debut author and her book is called Hex Hall. It's about a teenager who gets sent to a school for witches as punishment for a spell that she cast went wrong. Rachel read the prologue to us and it was really funny. My friends Leah and Crystal who were two of my friends that I was with met Rachel at a book signing in Huntsville a few weeks ago and Rachel remembered them. She gave them both t-shirts and when she was signing a book we all got a t-shirt. Rachel Hawkins is very down to earth and has a wonderful sense of humor. She is someone who I could go out for dinner and drinks with and talk about books and writing (I'm not a writer, but I love hearing them talk about how they come up with ideas and what inspires them). I am looking forward to reading this book.

(OK so I was trying to post pictures of Leaving Gee's Bend and Big Fish, but I'm having trouble putting them in so, I decided that since I have already typed out this big post I didn't want to delete it and start over, so I apologize for my lackluster post. I'll get a hang of this blog thing soon.)
We also heard Irene Latham talk about her book, Leaving Gee's Bend. This is her first novel but he also has done a bunch of poetry. It follows a 10-year-old girl who sets out on her own from the first time from Gee's Bend, Alabama. This is a place where years ago people made quilts which is what it was known for.
Lastly, we heard Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish. I have not read the book or seen the movie but they say they are really good. I actually have a copy of this book at home and I didn't realize Daniel Wallace was who wrote it, or I would have brought it for him to sign it. But he read this short story he wrote called "My Shitty Job" about his first job at a vet clinic where he cleaned up all of the animal crap in the back of the clinic. It was hilarious.
There were also several vendors there. One of them was this printing press that made paintings from stamps. The man who operated it let us each have a turn and make a sign that said "Read in Alabama", it was actually the word "Read" with the picture of Alabama, and he let us keep them for free. So we all got the three authors to sign it.
This was such a fun day filled with great memories. I can't wait to do it again next year!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Weight Loss Journey

I wish I can say I was a size 6, but I can't. I wish I can say I was in great shape, but I can't. I wish I can say I love my body, but I cant.

I have been struggling with my weight for most of my adult life. I joined the gym down the street from where I work 3.5 years ago and have been going pretty consistently ever since. When I got married 5 years ago, I wasn't working out or eating right, I weighed 151 lbs. I stayed that weight until 2.5 years later when I started working out regularly, I lost down to 133 lbs. I stayed right around that weight for a few years. Last year I had a trainer who put me in the best shape I've ever been, yet my weight still wasn't were I wanted it to be, because my love of food kept getting in the way. The trainer left last August because he took a job in San Francisco, and I was back on my own again. I lost all motivation and quit working out regularly; then I gained 20 lbs.

One of the things I'm going to use this blog for is to keep me accountable for my weight loss. Starting tomorrow, I am going to start cutting back what eat by tracking my calories, and going to the gym 6 times a week. My goal is to lose 40 lbs. My workout goals are to run a full 5K in under 30 mintues. I have been dabbling with the
Couch 2 5K but I need to get consistent on that if I want to meet this goal.

I would like to keep myself motivated with the fact that it's bikini season, and I have never been comfortable in a bikini. I would like to reach that comfort level by at least mid-July. It's probably unrealistic since it's only 3 months away, but a great improvement would at least be ideal.

Even though I set a 40 lb weight loss goal, I have set a reward for myself for when I reach the halfway point - I'm getting a tattoo. I have no idea where or what yet, but I would like something that has to do with encouragement. This journey is going to take alot of that, and it will remind me of what I'm working toward to reach my goal.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated for your goals? Not particularly weight loss but goals in general. Have you rewarded yourself with those goals?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My First Trek into Bloggersville

After many months of consideration I decided that I am going to jump in the pond and create my own blog. I love reading other people's blogs so I figured why not start one of my own? I love to read and I also love life so those are the topics that this is going to consist of. I will be doing book reviews and just talking/venting/bragging, etc. about everyday life.

Those of you who know me really well know I'm not creative at all. I have seen other blogs who have pretty designs and filled with pictures. I am going to try to have that but it will be awhile, so this blog is going to look pretty drab for awhile until I get the hang of things.

So everybody pull up a chair, get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (whatever you fancy), sit back and enjoy. :)