Fear and loathing in Las Vegas

You guys. I made it back alive from Vegas, and if all goes according to plan, I’m in the Mouse House as the post is published. I thought I’d throw down a few highlights of my Viva Las Vegas jaunt.

There were ghosts or someone was stalking my room. I walked into my hotel room at about 10pm, and the T.V. was on. Thoroughly creeped out, I scanned the room for signs of someone else’s luggage. Then I called the front desk and asked if that was normal. Spoiler alert: It’s not. She told me to “be careful” and I thought those were some pretty bold words for someone sitting in a proverbial tower. I opened every door, turned on every light,  pulled the curtains wide open and patted them down for good measure, and slept with one eye open. It was not unlike that one time I was alone and afraid in my house when we first bought it.

The Backstreet Boys are still awesome. Amber and I had one hell of a time. It was like being 14 and in college at the same time all over again. Although my love for Nick Carter died a quick and painless death, I realized that I am definitely a Brian kinda girl. 

I read 3 books. This may not seem all that exciting to you, but when you’ve got a cocktail in a cool spot by the pool, you can  churn through a lot of books and call it research for your own book. Of course, you can also start reading a fourth book,  a series that was highly recommended to you, and not understand why in the world you couldn’t get into it…and also why it was super confusing…until you realize you’ve started with the second book and you feel like an idiot.  You know…hypothetically. 

I realized that I can make friends everywhere. Whether I want to or not. On Saturday evening,  I sat down in the coolest little pool nook,  right alongside the deep end.  I was hanging out, people watching, and taking selfies, as I’m typically wont to do, when a group of people sat down next to me. A man eho was about my age affectionately told an older woman to sit there beside me. So I scooted over when teo more people came up on my other side. I was almost disappointingly trapped, but they started talking to me, and we had a bizarre conversation about the Backstreet Boys,  Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey’s ex-boyfriend. 

My new friends weren’t the only ones to invade my personal space that weekend,  though. Poolside again on Sunday, I was giving off my very serious KeepOut vibe as the sun slowly crept up the foot of my chaise lounge, when a leathery, red-tanned man in his 50s or 60s walked up to me. 

“Hey sexy, can you do me a favor? Can you put some sunscreen on my back?” 

Whatever was unfolding, I’m not one to take skin care lightly. I agreed, as he definitely looked like he needed it. 

“I can put some on you too.” 

“No thanks, I’m good.” I had alread doused myself in half a can of spray sunscreen.

“I don’t want to get burned ya know?” 

“Me neither. That’s why I’m hiding from the sun.”

I quickly patted some sunscreen on his back and sent him on his merry way. He returmed to the pool where a few of his friends were laighing and smiling. Whether I was a bet or not, I hope he got a good story out of it too. 

Going places without my husband is weird. I forget sometimes what it’s like to be single, but both of my aforementioned interactions included, “Where is your boyfriend/husband?” With the first group, I’m sure it was merely curiosity, as I’d preciously mentioned him in conversation (because I love the word, “husband”). The second was definitely fishing for information. Both times, though, “your husband doesn’t mind you traveling without him?”

Mind? I’m pretty sure he appreciates that I don’t drag him on every wild adventure I say yes to. 

Speaking of wild adventures, follow me on the social medias to catch the next leg of my summer adventure.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Worst Book Club Ever

Remember a few months ago, when I deemed our book club amazing and dubbed us “The Bad Ass Book Club for Nice Girls?”

Well. That’s all gone to shit now.

We’re now officially “The Worst Book Club Ever,” and this is why.

Top 5 Reasons We Are The Worst Book Club Ever

Month meetings – shot to hell

We planned to meet monthly. Since January, we’ve met twice. Our third meeting is tonight. We just keep pushing things off because our schedules are so busy that we can’t make time to sit down and drink wine and eat snacks with each other while discussing a book.

Attendance – we don’t get bonus points for having a full group every time, right?

Our book club members have never all been in the same place at the same time. Ever. Some members showed up for the first meeting. Some for the second. Some members have missed one or two meetings. But one day. One day, we hope to have a full class.

Choosing the book – changing midway through the “month”

We try to rotate who chooses the book (and mind you, we’re only on our third book), and then we keep changing our minds. The book we’re discussing tonight? It’s the third book we’ve chosen. One friend chose the original book. Then she changed the book (but kept the same author). Then we invited someone new to the club and let her choose a different book, pushing the previous book to our next meeting (whenever that happens).

Reading the book – is there a Cliff’s Notes?

No, seriously. Is there a Cliff’s Notes? Because at every meeting (all three of them), there are at least two people who haven’t so much as picked up the book. At all. This week? It’s my turn. I’m not going to lie, I’ve forgotten what we’re even talking about today. Because I’ve been busy reading other books. Because apparently I know 27 billion published authors. I’m working on how I can pimp their work into my book club…

Talking about the book – what’s the point?

By the time we actually schedule the meeting, choose the book and forget to read the book, being at the actual book club meeting leaves up ready to talk…about anything but the book. We play catch up with each other, gab, yell really loud and drink – A LOT. Someone usually gets good and toasted (who, me?) and we eat a lot of delicious snacks. We usually spend about 5-10 minutes talking about the book, and I don’t think we’ve all liked a book yet. Some of us liked the first. Some liked the second. Some hated them all. We’re definitely exposing each other to new genres, but that doesn’t mean it changes the way we think about them.

My lady group calls our book club The Worst Book Club Ever for five distinct reasons, but we still succeed as a book club because of these two very important tips.

Of course, any successful book club has to have SOME good things.

Two Reasons our Book Club Succeeds

We like to drink

There is always an open bottle or two of wine…or three or four…sometimes whiskey. Sometimes vodka. Sometimes beer. We love spending quality time not drinking alone.

We like to eat snacks

Those of us who’ve hosted also like to make snacks. It works out well for everyone involved. Tonight, the menu includes: cheese, something with crescent rolls and cream cheese, and pizza (because it’s a Friday night and pizza is fast and dirty on a school day).

So that’s how our book club is working out in a nutshell. The secret to a successful book club is all in consumption. If you’re not consuming the books

Do you have a book club or a monthly group that meets? How well do you manage your groups? Do you have any tips for improving our book club?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Just Call Me Stephanie. #DearStephanie

I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Mandi Castle’s debut novel, Dear Stephanie, and let me tell you, it REALLY spoke to me, y’all.

Dear Stephanie Cover

This book. Oh. My. God. This book. Mandi Castle’s writing is like a warm brownie. Gooey and decadent with all the sugary sweetness that you crave, but wicked and naughty all at once. To say Paige Preston is depressed would be the understatement of the year. Though her outer appearance oozes with perfection, she’s damaged to the core. She suffers deeply as she takes you on the biggest roller coaster ride of highs and lows.

Paige is the poster child for excessive perfection. While flawlessly beautiful, ridiculously wealthy, and fucking brilliant, she struggles with her own self as much as any of us. Sure, I’m not ridiculously wealthy. I’m far from the embodiment of perfection. I’ve never been depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts or tendencies. But as a woman who has felt pain, who has felt less than I am, who has had bouts of extreme crazy, who has suffered silently in her own right…I get it.

The novel is a series of journal entries from one Paige Preston to “Stephanie” who is a fabricated personification of Paige’s diary. Castle writes these entries with such realistic, natural, and eloquent language that I truly believe in Paige. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I felt as if she were writing to me, and I was Stephanie. I LOVED that she regularly referenced Stephanie inside the entries, often referring to her as “Steph,” which gives her a casual and even more realistic personality.

The entries are brutal, with strong sexual content that leaves you breathless, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching experiences that make you want to scream and cry, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal depression, and brilliant acts of love and heroism. Mandi’s writing dances on the pages without glorifying the ugly truths, merely telling Paige’s tale and pleading with you to recognize depression, abuse and other unspeakable acts. By the end of the novel, you’ll find yourself begging for more, cheering for Paige’s triumphs and crying over her stumbles.

Basically, you guys, this book is fucking fantastic. I will place a mini disclaimer here and say that there are a lot of triggers in the book, so if there are things that you have difficulty with – suicide, rape, depression, alcohol and drug abuse – this novel may be extremely difficult. But if you’re okay reading about some really tough stuff, pick this one up.

Mandi Castle

Photo courtesy of Lizzi Rogers

Mandi Castle is a baller, a blogger, and a word magician. Her blog is full of awesome, and I’ve even caught her sneaking around here once or twice – which I’m not going to lie, kind of makes me feel ridiculously special.

Dear Stephanie hits Amazon today. So why don’t you pop over there and grab a digital or paper copy of this phenomenal novel?

What books have you read recently? What types of books do you love to read? What aspects of writing really turn you on and grab your soul?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Bad Ass Book Club for Nice Girls

Starting a book club is a lot of work. No, seriously. It’s fucking painful. But the results? OH SO WORTH IT.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a company about reading a book for a book club (and they’d provide 1. The books. 2. The wine. 3. Some snacky stuff. 4. Extras.)

So I rallied the troops. I said to a collection of my girlfriends, “LADIES, let’s start a book club. We’ll call it The Bad Ass Bitches’ Book Club. And it will be good.”

And the troops were in. Unfortunately, between regular gaming nights, epic social lives and the holidays…it was damn near impossible to get together.

FINALLY, we were able to set a date. While not everyone could make it, the wheels were set in motion.

Look! They sent us hats! :)

Look! They sent us hats! 🙂

When the calendar invites went out, Brookie Banosnapper (pictured above, slightly behind me) requested that we change the name to “The Nice Girls’ Book Club. Because we’re nice.

And so, I modified it to the Bad Ass Book Club for Nice Girls (even if we’re sometimes a little bit bitchy). And our little club was formed.

This Missing Something Club Book Review

 

We read The Missing Something Club by William Haylon…and I use the phrase, “we read” loosely. Of the four ladies who made it to the inaugural book club meeting, only two of us finished the story. We both enjoyed the easy read and the basic plot line of the story, one of the others couldn’t get into it based on the first few pages, and the other just didn’t find the time to get into it (though she liked the writing that she did read). Two other friends who didn’t make it to the book club weren’t a fan of the story at all.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m really bad with giving a synopsis without giving away what might be a spoiler. So take this as fair warning.

The premise of the story begins with a 50-year-old empty nester and divorcee who feels lost. She starts a Meet Up group for people who are missing something. Whatever that something in their lives may be. Five strangers initially show up, varying in age, sex, and life experiences. The story follows their experiences through the separate voices of each character, who all seem to find themselves with the help of the oldest member of the crew.

There’s a lot of drinking. A lot of human nature. A lot of nakedness (thought mostly non-sexual nakedness). And more drinking. The characters are all deeply flawed, and I think that’s part of the point of the story. All of the women pose naked for the oldest character, where they share even more of themselves and open up in ways they don’t even open up in the weekly group. The book is a lot of therapy jammed into several chapters.

Unfortunately, for me, while I liked the premise of the story, I wasn’t sure I liked the way it was delivered. I enjoyed some of the prose, but the dialogue (and there was a LOT of dialogue) felt unnatural – almost too formal. And some of the things the characters did were…extreme. In general, though, it was an easy read and I found myself enjoying parts of it it the further I delved into it.

Brookie liked the story too, and played the part of teachers’ pet when it came to answering questions for the book club. After talking about the book, I think I liked it a little bit more. Seeing it from Brooke’s perspective definitely helped me to gather that each of the very flawed characters has something that I can relate to…and that was a really interesting way to see it.

BUT…we did eat. drink. and make merry. And we started a joyous club that will hopefully live on for many years to come.

Would you ever join a club without knowing the members? Do you think that drinking makes it easier or more difficult to open up and share secrets? What about nudity – would being naked make it easier or harder to share secrets?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Sorry Not Sorry

I can’t put this book down.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I have 4 half posts written and a book to finish reading. I’ll be back next week. Or tomorrow if I stay up all night to finish Ready Player One. One of those.

Have you read this book?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

You Don’t Kill Prince Charming. You Just Don’t.

Colin Firth

The majority of my adult life has been spent divided between living each day to tell a story the next, searching for the Mark Darcy to my Bridget Jones, and imagining all of the glorious things that happen once Bridget and Mark live happily ever after. Especially once I finally did meet my Mark Darcy AKA Mr. Darcy AKA Prince Charming (Brian). And started imagining our happily ever after…(Shhh don’t tell Brian!)

Oh stop judging me. You have a romantic hero too. (If it’s Bella Swan, we can’t be friends…OK, maybe. But you know what I mean.)

Mark Darcy is Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is essentially…Prince Charming.

He’s the dream hero. He’s the romantic idol. He’s what every girl imagines her future love to be.

You want a guy to look at you the way Mark looked at Bridget. You want a guy to tell you that he likes you. Just as you are.

Hugging dolphins

Lucky for me, I found that guy. Sure, he looks at me all funny like when I start hyperventilating over that fact that an author killed my novelized dream man, but most of the time, he looks at me with affection. And love.

But you know what? We’ve got a life ahead of us. And Bridget and Mark? They had a life, too. And Helen Fielding was too fucking lazy to write it. Instead, she took the easy way out. She wrote what she knew. Left broken-hearted with her own two children by her baby daddy in 2009, she started penning a book in which Bridge was a single mother of two.

We never got to see her happy ending, but we imagined it. We ALL did. Every last Bridget advocate. Bridget and Mark with one pair of folded underpants at the foot of the bed and the other pair swinging from the ceiling fan. The lovable disaster and the brilliant, full-of-heart, perfect opposite love of her life.

So I’m angry. And I KNOW I’m not the only one.

Because what Helen Fielding did was wrong.

She killed Prince Charming. She fucking. Killed. Prince. Charming.

Before his story was even written!

Did we see a wedding? No. Did we see the marriage? No. Did we see them become parents? Nope. Because Helen Fielding apparently doesn’t know how to write happy.

Will I read this abomination? Fuck no. Because it’s wrong. It’s like…LITERARY BLASPHEMY.

And BTW. While I’m on the angry subject. KATIE…we’re fighting. I can’t believe you couldn’t tell me this. You’re a BOOK BLOGGER! You HAD to know about this! And I had to read it on the internet. We named our scheffleras Bridget and Shazzer together! OK. Fine. I still love you. But I’m broken. Because of Helen Fielding.

Blog Friends, are you ex-Bridget fans too? Do you hate on Helen Fielding for her cruel and unusual punishment? I’ve created the hash tag: #YouDONTKillPrinceCharming if you’d like to sound off about this too. I’m ANGRY. And I’m LOUD.

If you’re not into the Bridget thing, have you ever been truly bothered by the outcome of a series?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

First, Some Housekeeping. Then, a Shameless Plug with Video. And Perhaps Several Winners!

Greetings Blog Friends!

As promised…

Housekeeping

I apologize profusely for the MIA/broken blog. You may have been unable to comment…or you may have noticed a giant mess of code and error messages…

Just blame Brian. (Although, in his defense, he DID help troubleshoot my blog with the WinHost people. So we can’t be too angry at him…)

After a 48 hour blog blackout, we’re BACK IN BUSINESS. With LOTS to say. And a whole new plan for the coming year of bloggy bloggy joy.

Shameless Plug

My blog friend, Heather the B(itch), came out with her second book. When I say shameless, I mean it. This girl brings new meaning to the word, bitch. And I kind of adore her. So when she sent a call out for videos calling HER out as the bitch we all know and love her to be…I was in. The results? An amusing trailer in which I am pretty darn awesome.

In honor of Heather’s book release, I’ve created a Zazzle tee-shirt!

I feel bitchy tee shirt

 

You can order yours today to wear while reading Heather’s sassy pants book. If you’d prefer to order through me (with slightly different lettering), I’m working on another t-shirt option utilizing the bitchy song I came up with at work. (I have the best co-workers ever. Seriously.)

Winners!

What? I mentioned winners? Of course, I did! You think I forgot about my joyous giveaways last week? Nope, not this girl. So I used a completely random number generator to choose the winners (and by random number generator, I mean Brian. He told me a number, and then there was magically a winner. Except that I won like 3 times…so he had to tell me other numbers. And actually the first number he said was pi. And that OBVIOUSLY was wrong.)

Congratulations to the following big winners! I hope you like your prizes (even the random and ridiculous ones):

Monday’s Secret Amazon Winner is Charleen from Cheap Thrills Book Blog.

Congrats to Charleen for being the future owner of the following SWEET ASS Amazon prizes! (GO FORTH AND READ THE REVIEWS!)

Amazon Banana Slicer Amazon Strawberry Slicer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next winner is for a beautiful coffee mug featuring Brian’s art. The piece on the mug is entitled, “Imagination Takes Flight.”Jessica from Red Hot Writing Hood is the winner of this sweet prize! Congrats Jessica!

Imagination Takes FlightOur next winner is for the Unbirthday Think Geek Gift Card! Joules from Pocketful of Joules will get to enjoy all of the geeky stuff she wants (that is available for $25 or less). Well played Joules!

And the last winner of the birthday/bloggiversary week giveaways is April from First Time Mom and Dad! Congrats to April who will be receiving a sweet ass surprise (that’s just too good to giveaway the details before she receives it!)

(Winners, drop me an e-mail with your info so that I can get your lovely prizes out to you!)

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaways last week and to all of you who read the posts I throw out into the world. I’ve got some great summer product reviews coming up in the near future, and maybe there will be a few more giveaways to come.

Blog Friends, what do you want to see more of on this little blog of mine?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Bookish Memories

This week’s Monday Memories is all about books! My story is a short, but sweet one…and by sweet, I mean I had a teacher who didn’t know who she was dealing with…and by that, clearly I mean my mom.

Monday Memories

(Note to Mom: If I get this wrong according to the story in your head…just you know…keep it to yourself 😉 )

In 3rd grade, back when I didn’t have a large collection of chapter books for kids, I would read children’s books. Rapidly. I mean, I also chewed through Ramona Quimby, Fudge, Roald Dahl, The Babysitters Club, and other kid-themed books faster than a lot of kids…But sometimes, I would read several books in one night. Especially if they were my Little Golden Books.

There was all that Book-It stuff in which you got free Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas for reading books. And we got extra credit for the more books we read. I’ve always been a fan of extra credit. Always. Of course, upon reporting these to my 3rd grade teacher, she thought I was making shit up.

When my parents went in for parent teacher conferences? She told them I was a liar and had a problem. So my mom asked, what does she lie about. She says she reads all of these books and it’s impossible to read that much. (Bad teachers don’t do research on the names of the books that kids are reading. Bad teachers assume that the kids are telling the truth that the book titles they list exist, unless of course, there are too many books on the list. THEN, those kids are liars. Bad teachers tell parents that they’re doing a piss poor job of raising a kid who stays up late at night to read books instead of sleep.)

I’m pretty sure my mom went off on her. She was already holding a grudge that I wasn’t in the “gifted” program at school. I just made my own gifted program. By reading more than anyone else. Whatevs. I was reading flipping picture books and writing that shit down. Documentation, my friends. Documentation.

Speaking of which, I wish I still had that shit.

The Best Reading Chair

I’ve been reading in this chair since I was old enough to read. It lived in my Gram’s house for years…she gave it to me when I grew up, because she knew I loved it so much.

Want more bookish memories? Go visit Lily over at It’s a Dome Life. I swear she and I are kindred spirits. If you like me, you’ll love her!

Tell me your favorite bookish memory? What was your favorite book when you were a kid?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Nerdy Things I Do When I’m Not Here

Sometimes, I get writer’s block. And I’m not really sure what to write about for this here little blog of mine. So I back off. I reflect. I do real life things that have nothing to do with blogging. Today, I’m going to tell you about some of the awesome things that I do when I’m not blogging.

  • I play mindless games. Bejeweled. Tetris. Bloons. I am a mindless game master.
  • I play board games. Nerdy ones. Arkham Horror. Settlers of Catan. Dominion. Munchkin. 7 Wonders.
  • I watch Doctor Who. And LOVE it.
  • I cuddle with my boyfriend. Is that nerdy? Did you just throw up a little bit in your mouth? That’s okay; me too.
  • I read books. You should too. They make you smarter. S-M-R-T.
  • I talk about sciency things with Brian. Okay. Brian talks about sciency things and I listen. And sometimes fall asleep. But that’s okay. Because he still loves me.
  • I plan vacations in my head. Especially to places that begin with Disney and end with World.
  • I eat cheese. Like, a lot of it. Fancy stuff. None of that plastic wrap Kraft BS.
  • I daydream about my future fame. That’s probably not nerdy either. But I do it. You bet your ass I do it.
  • I research things I want to buy. I didn’t always do this. I used to just buy things that I wanted. Now I research them first. I blame Brian.
  • I listen to Disney music and show tunes. A lot.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How I Embarrassed Myself in Front of The Bloggess for a Good Cause (In 500 Words or Less) (with photos)

I’ll get to the point fast. The good cause? Katie’s impending 30th birthday. But the how I embarrassed myself part in 500 words or less? Here goes:

(Note: I’m speaking really fast in my mind, so I highly recommend that you read it equally as fast in your mind.)

So I was excited to meet Jenny Lawson, and I had a plan to get her to sign a book for Katie, my butter-churning sister from a past life who also happens to WRITE a BOOK blog. And through her book blog (which she began after I gave her a guest post on my blog when she was going by the pseudonym Penny, for like 5 minutes) I discovered Jenny’s book, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, which I read and laughed hysterically at. Katie also was the instigator in directing me to The Bloggess’ Blog. And insisting that I comment and follow through to the other blogs from other people who comment. And thus began my whirlwind trip into a blogging community.

And so I practiced telling Jenny all about how Katie was my best friend ever. And how she wanted to be there. And how I was surprising her with the book. And basically rambled everything that I just wrote in the previous paragraph to poor Jenny. And of course, I said “hi” like 15 times. And I told her she was “fantastic” like 15 times. And apologized for being such a freak, because I was so nervous. And then I forgot to say anything witty. Or clever. Or adorable. Or intelligent, really. I didn’t even tell her about my best friend Ally, who was RIGHT THERE, pulling the camera/phone away from my shaking hand so that she could take pictures of me and Jenny.

The Bloggess Book Tour

Ally and I waiting for the arrival of The Bloggess

The Bloggess Book Tour

While we were waiting, Katie sent me this gem of a photo with the text: So sad that I’m not there! (She had NO IDEA I had a book to be signed for her!

The Bloggess Book Tour

Check out the sweet metal chicken reading a mini book!

The Bloggess Book Tour

She’s like, the most awesome person ever. I love her more now than I did before.

The Bloggess Book Tour

While waiting for my number (when Jenny would sign the books) I met the coolest people ever! I want that hair sooo bad! And the skirt. Apparently she wore the skirt the last time they met Jenny. How fun are they?

The Bloggess Book Tour

After I rambled about Katie for 5 minutes, AND showed the sad face text picture…she wrote this!

The Bloggess Book Tour

And then, just to show you how awesome Jenny is…she was all, “let’s pretend she’s here!” and put her arm around invisible Katie.

That Jenny Lawson is one cool chick. I’ve got more Adventures with The Bloggess posts to come.

So Blog Friends, have you ever been embarrassed in front of someone you admire?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!