Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hawaii Bucket List Update

I've made a good amount of progress on my Hawaii bucket list recently! My best friend Katie was here for a visit and I dragged her along to some of the activities I've wanted to do for ages. I don't think she minded too much, though!

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This is Sacred Falls, which I hiked back in April. The trail is actually restricted but I've been told lots of locals still do it. The trail and the falls were stunning, and I'm still kicking myself for forgetting to put the battery back in my camera after charging it. I was forced to take all the pictures on my cell phone (although I'm grateful I had that)!

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Katie and I got up way too early (4:50 a.m. -- major yawn!) to drive over to the east side of the island to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately, the one day I finally went it was a bit of a dud compared to the brilliance I've seen in everybody else's pictures. Still, it was an experience. We went to Starbucks afterward to kill some time before the restaurant where we planned to eat breakfast opened, and I was aghast to see so many people up and about and so totally awake at 6 a.m.!

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I didn't actually write this on the bucket list page of my blog, but I've been looking forward to breakfast at Cinnamon's, a restaurant in Kailua, forever. I got the guava chiffon pancakes and promptly removed that gigantic pile of nasty whipped cream. (I'm really not a whipped cream fan, strangely.)

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Whenever we go to the North Shore, Jarrod and I always get ice cream at a little place in Haleiwa called Scoops of Paradise. It's soooo amazingly good that it's hard to pass it up in favor of a different dessert. But I had heard Ted's Bakery at Sunset Beach has the best pies and I finally (begrudgingly) drove past Scoops of Paradise to find out! Sure enough, the chocolate-haupia pie was delicious! (Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut pudding.) We ended up buying FIVE pie slices -- two to eat there (haupia-chocolate for me, haupia-pumpkin for Katie) and three to take home (another haupia-chocolate, macadamia nut cream and strawberry guava). By the way, I did actually eat the whipped cream atop these yummy pies.

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Katie and I also did the mai tai sunset cruise on the Mai Tai Catamaran. I love sunsets and I love mai tais and I love hot shirtless bartenders!

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This is Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on U.S. soil. We did the audio tour of the palace and it was so fascinating, especially since I've lived here nearly three years and have a small bit of knowledge on Hawaiian history. Apparently Iolani Palace had electricity before Buckingham Palace or the White House!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: "Fifty Shades of Grey"

"Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James
First published in 2011
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

I was excited to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" because it's not all that often that a book makes national news for weeks on end. We have the Big Three of course -- "Harry Potter," "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" -- but those are all in YA genre. "Fifty Shades of Grey," which probably falls under the category of erotica, is decidedly not!

Anastasia Steele meets mega-rich, mega-attractive young CEO Christian Grey when she goes to interview him for her college newspaper as a favor to her best friend. Virginal, innocent, beautiful-but-doesn't-know-it Ana and powerful, intimidating, sexy, intense Christian feel an instant attraction to each other, and though Christian warns Ana that he's not the right man for her they can't seem to keep away from each other. But Ana soon discovers that Christian is not as perfect as he seems; haunted by a very rough upbringing, he has a cart full of emotional baggage and a deep need for control, and thus he favors Dominant/submissive sexual relationships. (The title comes from a line in which Christian admits to Ana that he's "fifty shades of fucked up" emotionally.)

So affected is she by Christian's presence and unwilling to lose him, Ana agrees to test the waters of Christian's singular sexual preferences. But Christian is also pulled to Ana like he's never be pulled to anyone, and he finds himself agreeing to Ana's pleas for "more" -- more of a normal romantic boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, which is something Christina's never had before. They compromise and embark on a passionate affair with lots of firsts for both of them in all aspects of their relationship, and -- of course -- plenty of juicy sex scenes. They're insatiable for each other, both physically and emotionally.

I heard so many varying opinions before I picked up the book, from friends, from patrons at the library where I work, from the media. I actually went in thinking I wasn't going to like it because I'd been told the writing was abysmal, and as a former copy editor I have a heck of a hard time reading books that are poorly written. The "Fifty Shades" trilogy actually started off as "Twilight" fan fiction and it seemed entirely plausible that a horribly written piece could become so famous just because of all the erotic sex scenes. But I was impressed -- the writing was hardly perfect and was very repetitive at times, and I was mildly annoyed by the constant perspective provided by Ana's personified "inner goddess" and "subconscious" -- but for a first-time author who had no real intention of publishing her work initially, it was not bad at all.

"Fifty Shades" is definitely not for everyone, and I can easily see how some might be offended by the incessant use of the f-word and the BDSM sex scenes (though I'm pretty sure they're BDSM-lite), put off by the fact that it's loosely based on the storyline of "Twilight," become annoyed with the writing or find themselves unable to indentify with Ana. But I think you're more likely to enjoy it than hate it, even if it's not your most favorite book ever. Something that irked me about "Fifty Shades of Grey" was that it ended abruptly, without a resolution to the problem (yes, there's actually a bit of a plot among the sex scenes!). While that got on my nerves, it also ensures that I'll pick up the second book, "Fifty Shades Darker"!

Apparently they're making a movie out of "Fifty Shades of Grey," which somewhat baffles me... it'll be hard to convey the erotic nature of the book even in a very R-rated movie. (Although that brings to mind the fridge scene from "9 1/2 Weeks," which was a total turn on without showing any actual sex; and incidentally, who knew Mickey Rourke used to be so dang hot?!) A quick Google search turned up a gazillion results about the movie, but what caught my eye was a blurb about casting Kristen Stewart as Ana. I know she's not the best-loved actress ever and she already plays the inspiration for Ana in "Twilight," but I think she'd be perfect for the role. I actually pictured her as Ana in my head when I was reading the book because I knew Ana was somewhat based on Bella, and because real-life Kristen Stewart has the super-awkward-but-lovable personality of Ana/Bella. As for Christian's character, it's all about his hair. And how sexy the man looks in a suit... and a gray tie.

Happy reading!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Furry Friday

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All of my pictures of Lily seem to happen on sheet-washing day! Doesn't she look so cute and cuddly here? But she has that playful gleam in her eye -- she was probably just trying to lure me in so she could swat at my face!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, Wednesday friends! It's been a bit of a rough week for me on a few different fronts, the most superficial of which was getting myself dressed. I only have two WIWW pictures to share with you because I'm apparently going through a fashion rut! Both Monday and Tuesday I intended to wear cute WIWW-worthy outfits and tried on over a dozen things, none of them quite right, and ended up leaving the house in (gasp) jeans and t-shirts. Lately nothing in my closet is appealing to me, and trust me -- it was not fun to hang all those clothes back up! (This is what they call a "first world problem." Ah, vanity.) On top of that, I'm overdue for a haircut and my curls are at that frizzy, unmanageable point. (Sadly -- oh so sadly -- my wonderful hairstylist moved away in the spring and I have yet to find a new one.)

On a more positive note, I jumped on the colored-pants bandwagon and bought a pair of teal crops last week. It was a total impulse buy and I'm almost sorta regretting it a little bit. I thought I'd be like all the other WIWWers and pair my colored pants with a chambray shirt... which is turning out to be impossible to find -- at a reasonable price, that is. Anyway, I have some other ideas on how to style them and it's my goal to wear them once a week all summer.

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my (two measly) outfits and get fashion inspiration (of which I'm in short supply right now!) from all the other WIWWers. Happy Wednesday!

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(This is kind of a strange pose, but it showed the outfit the best out of all the pictures.)

pleated poppy

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: "The Lion Is In"

"The Lion Is In" by Delia Ephron
First published in 2012
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

I have a confession to make: I all too frequently judge books by their covers. And how could I not be grabbed by the flashy artwork of "The Lion Is In," the best part of which is the lion chilling out in the back seat of the Mustang? I'm a sucker for animals. And bright colors. And Mustangs.

"The Lion Is In" features three women all -- literally -- running from their problems; Lana is a recovering alcoholic and college dropout, Tracee is a kleptomaniac who's clad in a wedding dress and veil when we meet her, and Rita is escaping her emotionally abusive husband and lackluster life as a preacher's wife. Best friends Lana and Tracee, making their getaway in Lana's Mustang, pick up hitchhiker Rita on the side of the highway.

Somewhere in North Carolina, Tracee dozes at the wheel and the Mustang veers off the highway, careening into a tree. It turns out to be a fortuitous event, because they happen to have crashed by The Lion, a ramshackle bar with a former circus lion, Marcel, for a mascot. The women barely have enough money for sandwiches, let alone car repairs, and they wind up taking temporary part-time jobs at The Lion. During their time there, Marcel the lion changes all their lives. Because of Marcel, the circus lion caged up in a roadside bar, the women end up confronting their problems and making progress toward inner peace and true happiness. Marcel serves as a kind of unconventional psychiatrist, hence the title.

I picked this book almost solely because I liked the picture on the front, and I nearly gave up on it because I had trouble getting into it. The cover grabbed me but the sparse, simple, adjective-lacking writing didn't. But the other day I was checking books out for a patron at the library where I work and we began comparing notes on our current reads. It turned out that she had recently finished "The Lion Is In" and had the same initial issues with the prose, but she urged me to stick with it for the story. And sure enough, I really did enjoy the story; the characters were interesting, the plot was different, and the ending was happy.

Like her sister Nora, Delia Ephron's other job is a screenwriter. Perhaps that's where the cut-and-dried, bare-bones writing comes from. However much that made reading the novel rough at times, I think "The Lion Is In" would translate into a fantastic movie.

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our 4th Anniversary + Furry Friday, Wedding Edition

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Today is our four-year wedding anniversary! On our first anniversary, I decided we would take a picture each year on June 15; it'll be fun to look back decades from now and see how we've changed through the years. This year Jarrod is deployed to Afghanistan, so our picture is courtesy of Skype. I miss him so much, but I'm thrilled that we're now halfway done with the deployment -- woo hoo!

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This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. We got married on the beach in Navarre, Florida, where we lived at the time.

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As promised, here's Conan being uncooperative during the photo shoot. Waves and crabs and sand are so much more fun than pictures!

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Thankfully, Conan finally decided to appease us! Did I mention he served as our ring bearer?

Book Review: "Dyer Consequences: A Knitting Mystery"

"Dyer Consequences" by Maggie Sefton
First published in 2008
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
(image source)

"Dyer Consequences" had two major things going for it: it involves knitting and it was quickly apparent to me that the "fictitious" town of Fort Connor, Colorado, in which the book is set is actually Fort Collins, Colorado, the very same city where I went to college! The murder victim in the novel was even a student at Colorado State University, my alma mater.

Unfortunately, that was really all that wowed me about "Dyer Consequences." If you're not a knitter and/or have ties to Colorado, I'm not sure this book would hold your attention. There weren't any glaring issues; rather, the whole book was just kind of mediocre. The plot was ok, the mystery was predictable, the main character was mostly likeable, and the writing style was fine. The plot is pretty simple: a young woman is drowned in a vat of yarn die in the basement of a quaint little knitting shop, and amateur sleuth/amateur knitter Kelly Flynn is on the case. Nothing too dazzling.

I'd classify "Dyer Consequences" as "murder mystery lite." (I believe Barnes and Noble calls books like this "cozy mysteries," which is also apt.) And that genre has some steep competition, especially in these niche categories like knitting, quilting, tea shop, library, bakery and dog- and cat-lover mysteries, and the list goes on and on from there. My favorite "mystery lite" authors are Donna Andrews with her quietly humorous bird-themed series and Tasha Alexander with her Lady Emily books, which are set in 1800s England. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books are on the edge between mystery and mystery lite for me, but she's one of my favorite authors in general. These writers all manage to hook me into their stories and keep me flying through the pages. And when I'm done, I'll inevitably get online to see when the next book is due out. Maggie Sefton just didn't wow me like that.

I will add, in her defense, that "Dyer Consequences" is the fifth of her knitting mystery series and perhaps I would have enjoyed her more if I'd started with book one. Maybe I'll pick up the first installment, "Knit One, Kill Two," at some point. Even if it doesn't blow me away, it's not such a bad thing to be transported to a knitting shop in my home state of Colorado for a couple hundred pages.

Happy reading (and knitting)! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, Wednesday friends! Thanks for all your input and reassurance last week; I'm glad to know people with normally functioning eyes and brains don't think I look like a teenager! No more rants this week... instead, I'm excited to tell you that I just bought one of those J. Crew bubble statement necklaces. Normally I avoid the super-trendy stuff, at least until I'm sure it's going to stick around for a while. But I've really noticed the impact a bold necklace can have on an outfit and, as much as I love my go-to turquoise necklace and my petal drop necklace from The Pleated Poppy, I thought it was time for something new. So I'm hoping my J. Crew necklace will make its WIWW debut next week!

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits and get fashion inspiration from all the WIWW fashionistas! Happy Wednesday!

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Most girls love getting glammed up in dressy clothes, but not me. I never have the right jewelry, I only know how to style my hair 1.5 ways, and I can never find heels that don't give me a blister. But I'm absolutely in love with this dress I bought in Colorado two weeks ago for my brother's graduation. So far I've worn it moderately dressy -- to the graduation and this time to a brunch -- but I love how it could be dressed up further with some cute wedges and glitzier jewelry, and I know come fall I'll dress it down with a belted sweater and my brown boots. It's just so versatile! (P.S. I'm trying out a new WIWW pose -- what do you think?)

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Monday:
Top: Kohls
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Shell necklace: Boutiki gift shop
Flip-flops: Kohls
Earrings: same as Saturday and Sunday

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This is a new sweater -- I bought it on clearance on my Colorado trip. I had originally intended to wear it with my pink belt, but it just didn't look right. Too many odd shapes and not enough symmetry, I think. It's funny how a year ago I never belted anything, but now it's my first instinct with any sweater!

pleated poppy

Malasadas, I'll Miss You!

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Now that I know for sure we'll be leaving Hawaii earlier than we most recently expected, I feel like I've got to take advantage of any and all opportunities to do Hawaii things! There's a malasada truck that parks in a shopping center where I go to Lowes and Old Navy, and I usually resist the temptation to gorge myself on one (or five) of these scrumptious Portuguese fried donuts. But the Hawaii pressure is on, and who I am to complain about an excuse to eat something sweet and soooo good?

So today I treated myself to a haupia-filled malasada. Haupia is coconut pudding, by the way, and one of my other favorite Hawaiian foods. In case you're wondering, I took these pictures sitting in the car, parked next to the Leonard's Wagon. Malasadas are best enjoyed ASAP when they're still piping -- crisp on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. And with a fistful of napkins!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review: "The Immortal Rules"

"The Immortal Rules" by Julie Kagawa
First published in 2012
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

Vampires, oppression, blood sports, evil leaders, monsters, impending post-apocalyptic revoloution (later on in the series, of course): "The Immortal Rules" doesn't really have any new concepts, but Kagawa mashes up now-familiar dystopian themes in a new way. This novel was like a combination of the Will Smith movie "I Am Legend" (which is also a book, although -- believe it or not -- I preferred the movie version), "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight."

We meet 17-year-old Allison Sekemoto about a half-century after the red lung virus wiped out a good chunk of the human population. Vampires, facing the loss of their food source, announced their presence and created walled vampire cities, keeping their "human cattle" penned up inside where they live in treacherous conditions and are forced to give blood to keep their vamp masters fed.

One day Allison has no choice but to venture outside the city wall to scavenge for food, and she's attacked by a band of rabids -- crazed, once-human monsters infected with a mutated form of the red lung virus and preying on all humans and animals in their path. I pictured them exactly like the virus-infected zombies from "I Am Legend" -- pale, hunched, mindless and bloodthirsty. Allison, despite her tenacity, strength and will to live, sustains grievous injuries in the attack. Presented with the opportunity, Allison decides to become the one thing she hates most of all -- a vampire. Being undead is better than being truly dead in her eyes.

The vampires in "The Immortal Rules" are more of the Volturi variety than the Cullen variety -- human blood is the only thing that sustains them, and most seem to have lost all shreds of compassion and civility. But Allison is determined to be a different kind of monster -- she refuses to completely lose her humanity to the "demon" inside her. Wandering in the wilderness, Allison eventually stumbles upon a small group of humans and joins their ranks, passing herself off as one of the living and breathing. They're traversing the country in search of Eden, a city rumored to be under human rule and free of rabids and vampires. Though the group travels at night, Allison can't hide the fact that she's a vampire forever and eventually her secret is discovered. By this time, of course, a romance has already blossomed with Zeke, the handsome 18-year-old who's second-in-charge of the group. Human-vampire love... sound familiar?

I really enjoyed the plot of the novel, but I found the writing style to be clumsy and awkward at times. Kagawa's word choice, phrasing and sentence structure was not nearly as smooth as the other young adult authors I'm a fan of -- JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, even Rick Riordan -- whose books appeal to adults because, though they're about teenagers, they don't sound like they were written by one. The diction issues -- and the occasional gaps in logic -- might go unnoticed by many readers because they're so wrapped up in the story, but they sometimes seemed glaring to me. While I was looking up some info on the book, I came across Kagawa's blog. And in the first post on the page, she spelled the word "schedule" as "schedual." Clearly, her talent lies in her imagination and creativity, not her mastery of the English language. Despite all that, I will definitely devour the upcoming books in the series!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, Wednesday friends! I have an extra-long WIWW post to share because of my week-long vacation to Colorado the last week of May for my brother's high school graduation. I also have a bit of a rant, and a question. The other night I ordered a margarita at a restaurant and the waitress stared at me, giggled, and said, "Let me see that ID! You look like you're 12!" I was rather aghast, but if I'd had my wits about me I'd have said, "Well, girlie, your tip just went down a few dollars!" This is not the first time I've been told I look younger than I am (although I've also been mistaken for an older friend's mother!) but for some reason I can't let go of this incident. Maybe it's because I'm pretty sure the waitress was younger than me?!

I told my husband about the incident during our most recent Skype chat (he's deployed to Afghanistan right now) and he repeated, for the zillionth time (yes, we've had this talk before), that he thinks I look younger when I wear my hair curly. Well, we're in luck! I just came back from Colorado where the low humidity is a curly-hair-straightener's dream, and you can compare curly-hair Lindsay with straight-hair Lindsay! So tell me, how old you you think I look? Like a teenager, the mother of a teenager, or -- perhaps? -- in my mid-20s? In case you're curious, I'm actually 26. And the outfit I was wearing when I ordered that fateful margarita is the very last one on this post.

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits (and my rant). Happy Wednesday!

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I've had a heck of a time finding regular ol' flip-flops this year, despite the fact that I live in Hawaii and flip-flops are daily attire for everyone. So my mom went to Kohl's and found a whole pile of flip-flops for me to choose from when I was home for my visit! Thanks, Mom!

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Read more about my bunny here.

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My brother's high school graduation. Congrats, Andy!

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Tank top: Kohl's
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Coin pearl earrings: craft fair
Shell necklace: Boutiki gift shop
Flip-flops: Kohl's

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Tank top: JC Penney
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Rosette pin: knitted by me
Flip-flops: Kohl's
Purse: Target

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I wore this to see "The Avengers," which I thought was pretty darn good. I know he only had a little part in the movie, but I think Jeremy Renner is my new favorite actor. I loved him in "The Hurt Locker," "The Town," and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," and I'm looking forward to the new "Bourne" movie!

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That's Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak behind me. This is why I still miss Colorado even though I live in "paradise"!
Gray top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Necklace: Waikiki International Marketplace
Sandals: Kohl's
Purse: Target

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This is the outfit I had on when I was told I looked like a 12-year-old. I wore this to see "Snow White and the Hunstman" (loved it!) and out to eat afterwards. Maybe this shirt makes me look like a preteen, but I adore it! It's made out of super-soft, stretchy cotton. It was one of my Colorado purchases -- and on clearance!

pleated poppy

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: "Friends Like Us"

"Friends Like Us" by Lauren Fox
First published in 2012
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
(image source)

Did you read Emily Giffin's popular novel "Something Borrowed," or see the movie with Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin? If so, you've pretty much already experienced a slightly less depressing version of "Friends Like Us," which, as you can probably tell from the cover, concerns a love triangle.

Willa lives with her best friend and lookalike, Jane, in Milwaukee. They're as close as two friends can be, until Willa reulucantly attends her high school reunion and bumps into Ben, her best friend from her teenage years. They were outcasts together, bonding over their eccentricities, dorkiness, and gawky looks. But in the half-dozen years since Willa's seen Ben, he's morphed into a mature and gorgeous man.

An awkward moment ensues in which 26-year-old Ben confesses that he's been carrying a torch for Willa since they were kids, Willa admits that she had no idea and that she doesn't think she likes Ben that way, they attempt an unsuccessful kiss, and they pick up their friendship where they left off.

Of course, Willa decides to play matchmaker and set up her two best friends. Their relationship blossoms; Ben moves into the girls' apartment, Ben and Jane fall in love, they get engaged, they plan to move to the east coast after the wedding so Jane can pursue law school. Willa feels like she's being left behind by her two best friends and, predictably -- days before the wedding -- a lightbulb clicks on above Willa's head and she realizes she's in love with Ben.

I loved Fox's fresh writing style, and the book is filled with clever puns and wordplay. I even moderately enjoyed the plot. But I had trouble really identifying with and investing in Willa. We hear all about how Willa's parents ruined her childhood with their divorce, Willa's prickly and mean older brother Seth, and Willa's many insecurities. I like that Fox tried to make her a flawed -- and possibly relateable -- character, but she just came off as unlikeable and whiny to me and I had trouble sympathizing with her.

This is Fox's second novel, and I might check out her first, "Still Life With Husband." Which, ironically, kinda sounds like Emily Giffin's "Love the One You're With." Hmmm... am I sensing a trend here?

Happy reading!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fredrik Bun Sushi: Love At First Sight

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Have you ever seen something on a TV commerical or in an ad and just knew you had to have it? That was the case with the newest Silcox addition, Fredrik Bun Sushi, the turquoise ceramic rabbit I bought at Pier 1 during my trip home to Colorado. My bunny was the last one in the store -- and on clearance -- and boy did I snatch him up! I forced my family to help name him, and we came up with the rather unfortunate moniker of Fredrik Bun Sushi. Don't ask.

I decided to leave Fredrik Bun Sushi at my parents' house in Colorado until we head back to the Mainland in the fall; I didn't think he could survive a plane trip. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure my parents and brother are as enamored with Fredrik Bun Sushi as I am, and I warned him not to let them take him down to the basement -- yard sale territory!

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