Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Club Friday-- Brain on Fire.

GoodReads Synopsis: One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter.  Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history. With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer.

My Thoughts:  This was a fascinating story.  But for the ingenuity of one doctor, who knows what Susannah's fate would have been.  It's crazy to thing about how many people suffering with mental illness could actually be suffering from a physical illness instead.  The author starts out the book by saying that she's not the most trustworthy of authors because she does not remember much of the events that she's writing about.  But being the good journalist that she is, she went to other first hand sources-- her parents, her boyfriend, her doctors and other caregivers-- to interview them.  She also uses journals kept by all the same people and even herself in the early days of her illness.  Therefore, the book reads like a cross between a memoir and an investigative report.  One that I really, really enjoyed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Goodbye, Captain.

I know there's been SO much talk about Derek Jeter's retirement this year, to the point of being slightly annoying even to me-- a true blue Yankees fan.  But I couldn't possibly let this baseball season (and Derek Jeter's career) come to a close without me honoring...

... my all-time favorite baseball player.

... Mr. November.

... a 14 time All-Star, the 2000 World Series MVP, the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, 5-time Gold Glove Award winner, 5-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 2-time Hank Aaron Award winner, and  a Roberto Clemente Award winner.

... the sixth highest man on the all-time MLB hit list (3,461 as of 9/24/14)

... the player of 2,744 Major League Baseball games, all with the Yankees.

... the master of "The Flip"

... a five time World Series champion.

... and the man who really made me love baseball and the Yankees.

Goodbye, Captain.  Baseball won't be the same without you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall To-Do List.

It only took me 24 days to finally link up with the Blog-tember challenge.  Fortunately, today's prompt matched a draft I had already started!  I love seasonal "bucket lists."  They help me remember to do fun things while the season is still here instead of putting them off until "later," which invariably turns into never.  So, here's my list!

ps-- I totally stole Tricia's graphic from her blog because it was SO cute!!

What's on your fall bucket list??

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall To-Read List.

As fantastic as this summer was for reading, I'm hoping this fall is even better. A 10-day road trip in November with hours and hours in the car should help me get plenty of books read!  These books are at the top of my to-read list this fall!
I'm still on a quest to clean up my to-read list on GoodReads.  I've got about ten books on there that I said I wanted to read in 2012.  If I can get them read before the end of 2014, that would be great.  These three are at the top of that list...

Two of my favorites are once again releasing new books in the fall-- Michael Connelly and John Grisham!  I'm already in the queue at the library for both even though the releases are at least a month away...

After discovering the wonders of Harlan Coben earlier this year, I've read almost a dozen of his books.  I think it's probably a little ambitious to try to read all of his books in 2014, but I'm certainly going to aim to get close.  Next up, the most recent of his YA series following Mickey Bolitar along with two of his early stand-alone novels...

And I've gotten several books from NetGalley that I need to read and review so I can get more!  These two are also on my list from last week of authors I need to read more from...
Ship of Brides // The Silent Sister

What's on your list for this fall?

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Winey Weekend.

Friday, I surprised Donny by taking him to the Old North State Winery in Mt. Airy, NC. I do not generally drink wine, but he loves it. So I'm not really one for going to a wine tasting. But knowing that he really wanted to go to one and trying to be a better, more thoughtful wife, I found a good one for a little adventure!
We were not the only people in the place, but it was close.  One cool thing that they did is let you choose from their wines-- you could either taste the dry and semi-dry ones, the sweet and semi-sweet wines, or all of the above.  Donny chose the dry wines (duh), and I chose the sweet ones even though I wasn't even plan on having any.  
It was actually a ton of fun, and I even found a few that I liked!  Y'all-- I even BOUGHT two bottles! Who am I??  After the wine tasting, we wandered around the town of Mount Airy for a while-- it's a cute little downtown with a bunch of shops, but it didn't take us too long to finish the tour.  

So we made our way home where I tried in vain to finish Dawson's Creek before Netflix took it off their site on Saturday.  I made it to episode 10 of the final season before I couldn't stay awake any longer.

Saturday morning, we were awake before the sun to head to Greensboro where Donny was running in a 5k.  Being the dutiful and loving wife that I am, I went with him to take pictures.  Like these...
We did get some free Chick-fil-A out of it too!  And while we were in Greensboro, we stopped by the big used book store, where I found season six of Dawson's Creek for only $9!  And then I promptly came home and take a nap.  Haha.

One of my favorite things in the world are Saturday pancakes.  They've become a serious tradition in our house.  Since we were up and gone super early, I didn't get to make them for breakfast.  So, it was breakfast for lunch instead!
I finished Miracle Cure, which was Harlan Coben's first published book.  It was pretty interesting but definitely not my favorite of his, which I suppose isn't surprising since it was his first book.  I also started The Firm by John Grisham. 
As I was about to start making dinner, my co-worker Amanda called because they were stranded due to a flat tire that meant their car would have to be towed to a mechanic (no spare, unusual sized tire = stuck on the side of the road).  So, Donny and I went to take her to her home in Lexington while her husband waited for the tow truck to come and for her to return with their other vehicle.  And since we were there, we went and ate at my favorite BBQ place as a kid.  (Definitely NOT Whole30 approved food, but delicious nonetheless.)

Sunday was pretty uneventful-- lots of reading and football.  I made some food for the week, including my current favorite lunch-- egg drop soup.  SO good!

How was your weekend?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Club Friday-- Summer Reads.

Yes, I know it's the middle of September.  Forgive me for not posting some great beach reads until now.  These were some of the light reads/chick lit I read this summer.  Most were good, some not so much...
GoodReads Synopsis:  In Hollywood, fame can be found on every corner and behind any door. You just have to know where to look for it. Nineteen-year-old Madison Parker made a name for herself as best frenemy of nice-girl-next-door Jane Roberts on the hot reality show L.A. Candy. Now Madison's ready for her turn in the spotlight and she'll stop at nothing to get it. Sure, she's the star of a new show, but with backstabbing friends and suspicious family members trying to bring her down, Madison has her work cut out for her. Plus, there's a new nice girl in "reality" town—aspiring actress Carmen Price, the daughter of Hollywood royalty—and she's a lot more experienced at playing the fame game... When the camera's start rolling, whose star will shine brighter?

My Thoughts:  I loved this series!  It was the perfect light, beach read.  I actually ended up liking Madison throughout this series (as opposed to the L.A. Candy series).  If you like fluffy chick-lit books, then I definitely recommend these!

GoodReads Synopsis:  Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret. 

My Thoughts: I liked this book, I didn't love it.  The story was rather depressing, and it all came together in a bizarre ending that seemed too strange to be true.  I did love the way Liane Moriarty wrote, and I loved the way she weaved several stories into her book.  I do look forward to reading more of her books.

GoodReads Synopsis:  Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.  But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

My Thoughts: This is probably Emily Giffin's most controversial book, which is odd considering that many of her books deal with (and somewhat glorify) infidelity.  I know many EG fans did not particularly care for this book, but I loved it.  I loved the setting of a football town in Texas, the characters, and yes, even the plot.  I did think Shea and Coach's relationship was rather odd and a little gross.  But, it was a fantastic story, and I couldn't put it down.

GoodReads Synopsis: From her sudden rise to fame as a golden-haired teen beauty, to recently redefining herself as a single working mother to three growing girls, Jennie Garth has defied the odds and thrived in a town that can be more than a little tough on its blondes. Since Jennie landed in Hollywood at just sixteen, she has built an enduring career as a television and film actress, producer and director, beginning with her iconic turn as Kelly Taylor on Aaron Spelling’s smash hit Beverly Hills 90210, a show that ran for a decade and which cemented Jennie’s place in American pop culture. Recently, Jennie found herself facing her forties from a place she never expected to be in: newly single, in demand again as an actress after years spent focusing on her family, and all over the tabloids. So she decided to do what surprised many—including herself: she decided to write about it, to tell her own story, in her own words. And now, in this intimate memoir, she explores the highs and lows of her life, both in front of the camera and behind closed doors, revealing the real Jennie Garth—smart, funny, and stronger than she ever realized.

My Thoughts: I had so much hope for this book, given my love for Tori Spelling's memoir.  But it was nowhere near as good.  Too much stuff no one would care about and not enough stories about things we all want to know.  Read at your own risk.