What Happened in 2016?
title 2016-collage-small
I was cleaning up my about me page when I realized that I had nothing written for 2016! Since I only blogged a handful of times during 2016, I made the yearly recap a little bit longer than normal, so I could include a few highlights that I normally would have posted!
On the first day of 2016, I was diagnosed with EDS III, which is a genetic condition that I have suffered from my entire life. The diagnosis explained a lot of my medical issues. You can read about that here.

After I was diagnosed, I didn't blog much. In fact, I blogged a few times that month and then called it quits. I stopped reading, so I didn't have books to review. I mostly watched Netflix while I suffered. I used knee braces and a wheelchair in order to leave the house and have any type of social life with my husband. Skinny jeans, while cute, don't accommodate the massive knee braces that I need, I appreciated the 3 weeks that I could wear linen blend pants.

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This was one of the few weeks that I got to go out during the spring, without my wheelchair, but you can see the braces under my pants. However, that's my all time favorite necklace!

A huge shout out to the band Judah and the Lion. Not only are they one of my favorite bands, but when I mentioned on Instagram that I had anticipated going to their show for my 28th birthday, but the venue wasn't accommodating for my wheelchair.

When I emailed, the venue said that I could put my wheelchair in "the hallway" and never followed up with me, even though 6 months before that, when I emailed with the same venue about their "gold seats" for another act--they don't always have seating--they sent a follow up email within 10 minutes of explaining the seats to me to ask if I had purchased them yet! Obviously, this venue was only interested in my business if I was paying more. The band gave me VIP tickets and their helpers/people who perform with them on the road (I don't know the technical term) put my wheelchair in the best place in the room. I skipped the braces and hobbled up for our group shot that I'm including below because they are STAND UP dudes, who make amazing music. I figured that it was my one chance for a photo with Judah and the Lion, so I wasn't going to be sitting!

And, per my doctor's orders, my husband and I went all over Charlotte to find new coffee shops and things that I could do in my limited capacity. We even took the dogs one day! She enjoyed it for... 5 minutes.

spring-2016-collage I continued to not blog during the summer because I was EXHAUSTED. PT twice a week, plus more doctors appointments! I was so tired that I was a hazard driving, so my poor mom had to drive an hour from her house to take me my appointments. It paid off because I got to dress up fancy and attend my brother-in-law's wedding in Mississippi. I did enjoyed slow dancing, remembering some group dances (wow, those are exhausting), remembering the words to every classic song ever, and made sure that my husband fulfilled his best man duties by decorating the car. I felt so sick the next day because my husband stepped on one of my bare feet and I kicked myself in the ankle on the other foot. I was glad that I had a wheelchair!

wedding-collage The fall past quickly with more doctor visits, homecoming, and our regular fall rituals. A new one, though, was getting anniversary photos taken. While I loved our wedding photographers, I wasn't very happy with how I looked on our wedding day, so we hired a local friend to do a take 2!

anniversary-collage We ended the year by flying into New Orleans, where we stayed for a few nights, seeing the WWII Museum, getting beignets, visiting an old friend, and using Uber more than a normal person should--I really should have started a walking program to build up more endurance. Two days before Christmas, my in-laws, who live nearby picked us up and took us back to their home for the rest of the holidays.

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Christmas Eve Service

Overall, 2016 was a tough year. I dealt with getting treatment with something that should have been being treated for 27 years. I had to make the decision to walk away from our church, where it was the one place that I kept trying to make friends because I realized that it was hurting me, but no one there really cared or understood. No, the way that it's hard for me to get dressed and out of the door is not the same as the way it is hard for you to get ready to go places with your 2 year old daughter. Not even the same ballpark.

2016 was a year of finding new music that I love, new authors to enjoy, new TV shows to laugh at, and still being amazed at lucky I feel to have my dogs in my life. Like, how did I literally get the two best dogs on the planet at once? 2016 meant letting go of people, letting go of possessions (donating clothes as fast as my bum arm will let me!), and saying no to things that I don't need in my life. Not every medical treatment is needed all of the time. There is such a thing as too many appointments, especially when you need a lot of sleep.

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We are looking forward to 2017. We are hoping to move in 2018 (I'm sick, so we can't rush these things!) and find not just better community, but any community, better medical care, and be closer to family and friends who are in similar situations to what I am in. I believe that living in an area that has a community of doctors that treat both of my conditions will lead to a better quality of life because not only will I find treatment, but I will find fellow patients. I am alone here.

I am looking forward to feeling a decluttered house. Unlike most people, I can't just declutter. It takes a lot of time and even more help. Its one step forward and two steps back when I knock everything off of the counter because I tripped over my own feet. But, it will look good and feel even better. I am saying "no" to samples when I order beauty products online if I know that I won't use them. REALLY.

My shoulder is getting worse, so I can't play my flute, but I am going to try to find the energy to pick my oboe back up. I am always looking for a way to add structure, but not beat myself up when I accidentally sleep until 5 PM. Hell, I'm going to try to shower regularly. Life is an uphill battle, but I have a really good team on my side.

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He's the most handsome member of the team.

This is just what I've been doing. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw most of what went on last year--the fun stuff--not the heartbreak. But, I hope to come back with book reviews and maybe an insightful comment or two!

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Categories: Updates Tags:
2017 Classic Reading Challenge Picks
2017-classic-reading-challenge-with-title  

1. A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

Silas Marner (1861)

silas-marner I love George Eliot. I can't wait to read this!

2. A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967. All books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

A Passage to India (1924)

passage-to-india I haven't loved all of the E.M. Forster things that I have read, but I am going to finally give this a try. I started it awhile ago.

3. A classic by a woman author.

Frenchman's Creek (1941)

frenchmens-creek I love Daphne du Maurier! Why not read another one of her novels. I have not read this one, fortunately.

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)

one-hundred-years-of-solitude Finally, this novel is 50 years old. I am not usually a big fan of literature that is translated into English, but, I didn't hate the last book that I read by this author.

5. A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category also.

Evelina (1778)

evelina This novel is a little bit long, but I have ALL year!

6. An romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

The Pursuit of Love (1945)

the-pursuit-of-love

A Mitford book has been on my list FOREVER! I read a great biography about the family, so it will be great to read one of her novels.

7. A Gothic or horror classic.

Rebecca

rebecca This will be a reread for me, but who doesn't love Rebecca?

8. A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two Cities, Three Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

Two on a Tower (1882)

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This is the only Hardy novel that I haven't read, and fortunately, it has a number in the title!

9. A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title. It an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc.

Of Mice and Men (1937)

of-mice-and-men I have read one Steinbeck novel, which was wonderful. So, I am looking forward to this one!

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

Dubliners (1914)

dubliners

I read some of these short stories a long time ago. However, it's been 15+ years. Ireland would be my dream vacation, so what's better than a book called Dubliners?

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

the-mysterious-affair-at-styles I love Agatha Christie and this novel won Audie Award for Mystery (1997).

12. A Russian Classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author.

Lolita (1955)

lolita I have had this book on my list forever. Time to finally read it! I normally don't reach for Russian authors.

Thank you to Karen from Books and Chocolate for hosting this!

Don't forget that you can also sign up to win/read along--you can even win if you don't finish the entire list! Just go to this site and sign up ASAP!

 


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Categories: Reading Challenge
The Classics Club: Mission Completed
The Classics Club
Well, I completed my mission on time, but I'm a few days late in posting it! Two years ago, I posted that I would read 50 classic books in 2 years. In fact, I read 51 classic books! I accomplished it!

I didn't write a review for every single book, but I wrote a lot of reviews.

So, I won't recap all of the reviews--if you've been following the blog, I parsed out contemporary and classic novels apart from each other in the monthly reviews. I didn't write as many round up classic reviews as I would have liked, due to my illnesses!

Without further ado, here is what I read between 12/24/14 and 12/24/16 (starting with the most recently finished and ending with the first one that I read):

Lady Of Quality, Georgette Heyer

Little Women (Little Women, #1), Louisa May Alcott

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

Partners in Crime (Tommy and Tuppence #2), Agatha Christie

Persuasion, Jane Austen

The Warden (Chronicles of Barsetshire #1), Anthony Trollope

Why Shoot a Butler?, Georgette Heyer

Black Sheep, Georgette Heyer

The Corinthian, Georgette Heyer

Cotillion, Georgette Heyer

April Lady, Georgette Heyer

Friday's Child, Georgette Heyer

The Bostonians, Henry James

Romola, George Eliot

The Nonesuch, Georgette Heyer

The Reluctant Widow, Georgette Heyer

Where Angels Fear to Tread, E.M. Forster

Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell

Jamaica Inn, Daphne du Maurier

A Civil Contract, Georgette Heyer

The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope

Mary Anne, Daphne du Maurier

Sprig Muslin, Georgette Heyer

The King's General, Daphne du Maurier

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins

The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

The American, Henry James

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

Charity Girl, Georgette Heyer

Venetia, Georgette Heyer

The Woodlanders, Thomas Hardy

Cousin Kate, Georgette Heyer

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

The Professor, Charlotte Brontë

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

Wessex Tales, Thomas Hardy

The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

The Convenient Marriage, Georgette Heyer

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Tales of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Adam Bede, George Eliot

The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1), Patricia Highsmith

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence

The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell

Daisy Miller, Henry James

Little Men (Little Women, #2), Louisa May Alcott

The Awakening, Kate Chopin

 



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Categories: Book Review, Reading Challenge
Erin’s 2017 Reading Challenge
bookchallengebyerin6-0

I am super excited to be joining Erin's book challenge! I spent the first few days of December putting together my list of possible books. You can join the Facebook group and read more about the 2017 Reading Challenge on her blog here.

Here are the categories and my choices!

+ 5 points. Freebie book:

The Family Way by Rhys Bowen

the-family-way



+ 10 points. Starts with a "W" book

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves



+10 points. Six word title book

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

the-masque-of-the-black-tulip



+ 15 points. Mostly green cover book:

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan or

the-bookshop-on-the-corner



The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

the-summer-queen



+ 20 points. Homonym book

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

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+ 20 points. Favorite author book:

The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch, #21) Michael Connelly

the-wrong-side-of-goodbye



+ 25 points. Book Set in City/State where you live (South Carolina):

The Underground Railroad

the-underground-railroad



+ 30 points Rory Gilmore Book

Emma by Jane Austen

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+ 30 points. Genre not usually read book (self help/non fiction):

This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick

this-is-where-you-belong



+ 35 points. Time travel book:

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

a-connecticut-yankee-in-king-arthurs-court



So, these are my picks, but they are totally changeable. Do you have any other suggestions? What would you pick?

 



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Categories: Reading Challenge Tags: , ,
What I Read: November 2016
What I Read November 2016  

The Vicious Vet (Agatha Raisin #2)

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Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I enjoyed this quick little story. It is nice to read one of these every few novels.

The Girls

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Rating: 5 Stars

Review: I absolutely loved this novel. I am kicking myself for waiting months to get it from the library instead of just buying it, considering the glowing reviews that my friends were giving it. Do yourself a favor and buy this. If you've ever been a teenage girl/woman navigating the dating scene or interacting with men in the workplace or really men in general, so much of this novel will resonate with you. Cline's observations are spot on. Her thoughts are beautifully woven into an interesting tale of a 1970s cult and murder.

Elizabeth Is Missing

elizabeth-is-missingRating: 3 Stars

Review: I started reading this because I was in the mood for a thriller, which is a genre that I have not read and I have while. This is a touching and sad story, it is not a thriller. It's a good book, but it would not be one of the first that I would recommend to my friends. If you are in avid reader who reads widely and is running low on things to pick up, then pick this up.

I was definitely disappointed because it had been on my list for you while and someone on MMD's podcast said it was one of their current favorite novels, so I was expecting something a little more spectacular.

Scrappy Little Nobody

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Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review: So funny! The reading guide at the end was a treat! I listened to the audible version that Kendrick read herself, which made it even better! I could write an entire post on this book, but I don't want to give away the good parts. Just read it.

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener(Agatha Raisin #3)

agatha-raisin-and-the-potted-garden

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Loved this little book. I can't quite remember, but I think it has a different ending than the TV show, which I watched first, so that was even better.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

hillbilly-elegy

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: Do yourself a favor and read this. I don't really want to give anything away, but I love how the author started his memoir with grandparents and their early lives and then followed his own life. He ties his own story into a larger narrative about people from Appalachia, using studies, statistics, and anecdotes.

Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters

take-six-girls

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Very thoroughly research. It was an interesting look at the sisters, as well as the time period. I would recommend reading Nancy Mitford's novels before picking up this book, but it is by no means necessary. Two of her later and more popular novels are sitting on my bookshelf unread, and I did not know that they wore her later novels or even her more popular novels before I read this biography. I do think I would have appreciated the story more, though, if I could have drawn on the plots of her novels, which are thinly veiled stories about her family.

However, the author of this biography does a wonderful job of taking snippets from all of her novels, which I would never take the time to read or probably be able to get my hands on, and interjects them into the narrative of the biography.

When I do read Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love, The fiction will mean a lot more to me than it would have before. Also, I am inspired to track down a few of her earlier works. Additionally, other sisters did write, so you could always pick up one of their books.

read these

The Girls

Scrappy Little Nobody

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

  if you have time

Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters

Agatha Raisin Series

  don't bother smaller  


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Categories: What I Read Last Month
How to Quickly Alienate Someone With Chronic Illnesses


how-to-quickly-alienate-someone-with-chronic-illnesses

Sadly, this is based on a true experience.

  1. Send a vague email that sort of sounds like you want get to know the Chronically Ill Person (CIP), who will get excited because no one ever wants to do that. But the vague nature almost sounds like a threat, so they will want to back out because everything has strings attached when you're sick.

  2. Don't take into account that meeting for coffee will require days of anxiety and preparation on the CIP's part. They may have trouble bathing, grooming, ironing clothes, or getting dressed. So, even if you pick a time that sounds reasonable, it could take them hours to get ready, plus they may need someone to skip work to help them dress and put on shoes.

  3. Show up late. Don't respect the CIP's time. They respected your time and did everything humanly possible to make it, but you show up half an hour late, while only texting that you will be late 5 minutes before the meeting time.

  4. Make all of their worst nightmares come true. They opened up to you about being sick, which you will not understand. Trust me here. You cannot fathom what it's like, despite how much the CIP describes it to you. Getting ready when you are sick is NOT like dressing your kid and putting them in the car. It's much more painful because you are a full grown adult with shooting pains, who has lost the ability to lift one arm above your head.

  5. It doesn't matter how much you say "this is coming from a place of love," handing out advice, that is declined, is declined. Pushing it won't change it. The CIP has been dealing with a team of professionals for years. So, offering counseling 45 minutes away when getting coffee 10 minutes away was an ordeal isn't going to change from a no to a yes. When the CIP then makes it VERY clear that they have nothing against counseling because they have been 6 to 8 times, including all summer, along with the fact that the CIP is more well versed in the types of counseling, when you wouldn't know the difference between CBT and DBT if it hit you in the fucking head, it's time to shut up.

  6. Assume EVERYTHING. Make up lots of phrases like "I assume that you feel this way about x, so I assume you feel this way about y. How is that for you?" But... the CIP doesn't feel that way about either thing! Put the CIP on the defensive the entire time.

  7. Act like the CIP is the annoying and needy friend that no one wants in a one-sided friendship. Especially, if the CIP doesn't have your phone number, has never interacted with you in a one-on-one setting, and you've only known each other for a few months. Start that friendship off right. It never hurts to lay down ground rules like, "I can't be all of your friends," or "I'm not a trained professional." (Just so you put the CIP in their place and remind them how awesome you are to be taking your time to be with them and that they might be a little bit crazy.)

  8. Assume that the CIP actually wants your friendship. Maybe the CIP just wanted to show up once a week and participate. Don't forget to repeatedly point out how lonely she is and how that's her only outlet during the week to get out. Pointing out her loneliness and making her admit that she has no friends is a nice touch.

  9. Repeat that you don't mean to attack them often. It's like saying "no offense, but..." It gets the job done. But meaner. It reminds the CIP person that you never wanted to get to know them or understand what they were going through. You lured them to get coffee with an ambush set up. You don't understand in the slightest how it feels to be sick or even what it looks like to be this sick. You have one objective AND YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH IT because you hatched the plan that the CIP needed to see a counselor without knowing anything about them.

  10. Definitely end the conversation with a critique of the person. Something that could be addressed as a reminder to a whole group, but instead pick out the one new member and critique the CIP to her face. It's a nice memory to leave with.

    These ten simple steps will assure that the Chronically Ill Person will never show up at your community group again. The steps will assure that the person will stop attending church. The steps will assure that the person never opens up to another person again. The chronically ill person will no longer confide in her spouse, parents, doctors, or seek counseling because someone could just turn it around and throw it in her face.

So, if you hate someone, do this. If you want to love someone, DON'T EVEN TRY IT. How anyone thought that would work out well is beyond me. However, I hope that one day I can tell the girls who did that to me what kind of damage they have likely permanently inflicted because they wanted to be right more than they wanted to listen.

If you are sick/have a sick family member, what would you like to see change, with the way you or they are treated?



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Categories: Chronic Illness Tags:
What I Read: September and October 2016
It's been a long time since I've done any book reviews. I thought that I would talk about the books that I read in the last two months! Then, I have a few more ideas for book posts on my favorite summer reads, series that I've been reading, etc. I won't try to review everything that I read this year.

what-i-read-september-october-2016-resized


As usual, I am breaking up the novels between Contemporary and Classics for the Classic Book Reading Challenge!

Contemporary

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry

the-storied-life-of-aj-fikry

Rating: 5 Stars

Wow! I don't know how I left this sitting in my audible queue for so long! What a touching story about books. If you don't mind a happy cry, a sad cry, and all the emotions in between, and are a true believer in the power of books, you have to read this. Pick this up ASAP--if you are on the late train like me!

Be Frank With Me

be-frank-with-me

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: One of my favorite books this year! Touching, funny, and a bit eccentric. I HIGHLY recommend this novel.

The Idea of Love

the-idea-of-love

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! It was a light, but more complex than I thought it would be. In fact, when I thought it would be over, it got even more complex! Again, this one has been on my Kindle for almost a year, and I can't believe that I waited so long to pick it up!

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6)

the-trespasser

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I picked this up the day it came out. While it wasn't my favorite in the series, I am still glad that I read it. The twist in the plot was VERY unexpected!

The Sugar Queen

the-sugar-queen

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I love Sarah Addison Allen! Her books are like magic. They are magic. This novel is about Josey, who is a Southern Belle, who hasn't moved out of her mother's house, so she is there to take care of her all of the time. Josey, who has never had a close friend before, bonds with a new friend, and struggles with romance along the way.
Like all of Allen's novels that I've read so far, I recommend this one completely!

Commonwealth

commonwealth

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I love Ann Patchett. While this was no Bel Canto, it was a great novel. There were so many characters that I had a hard time tracking the story at first, since I listened to the audiobook. However, I did like story and how it came together as a whole.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

the-secret-history-of-the-pink-carnation

Rating: 3 Stars

Review: I picked this novel up because I read all of Lauren Willig's novels and I loved them. Once I ran out of her stand alone novels, I started in on this series.

I loved this novel--I read it in two days. I will read the next one in the series. I deducted a whole star for gratuitous sex scenes. Historical novels with gratuitous sex is so cliche. I want the history and mystery, just like this novel. I even love the romance. Just stop the awkward sex.

With that being said, I am going to read the second novel in the series and give it another chance.

The Lola Quartetthe-lola-quartet

Rating: 3 Stars

Review: Not my favorite novel. I really loved Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven so much that I picked up another novel that she wrote. To be honest, I wasn't impressed. I really loved the dystopian feel of Station Eleven. However, I do want to read the rest of the novels.
While this wasn't my favorite, you might like it. So, read the synopsis on Goodreads and figure out if you might like it!

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin #1)

agatha-raisin-and-the-quiche-of-death

Rating: 3 Stars

Review: I loved this novel. It's not bad, but it's not fantastic--I would recommend this series to anyone who loves cozy mysteries. I was a huge fan of the TV series and this was different and good.

My Name is Lucy Barton

my-name-is-lucy-barton

Rating:5 Stars

Review: Do. Not. Read. This. When. You. Are. Already. Sad. Or tired. This is so beautiful and haunting.
Like a short version of The Gilead. It's interesting to have someone write a "biography" for a fictional character.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: Why did I wait so long to read this?! This novel is amazing. Aside from laughing so hard that the chapters were all numbered in prime numbers, the entire story was terrific! The story was entertaining, plus the underlying message was so touching. To read about a young man who struggled to connect with his divorced parents, plus deal with Asperger's, left a tear or two in my eyes while I also laughed a lot.

Heartburn

heartburn

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: This was the first novel by Nora Ephron that I had read. It wasn't very long, but it was very full of emotion! I totally recommend this!

When to Rob a Bank

when-to-rob-a-bank

Rating: 3 Stars

Review: Since I don't read the Freakonomic's blog and I only just started listening to the podcast, this was a great way to catch up on what the authors have been thinking about since the first book came out. It's not a work of genius, but it poses some great questions. I particularly liked the guest post about what real former gang members thought about The Wire. I loved the first season, but never finished it!

Mistletoe and Murder (Daisy Dalrymple #11)

mistletoe-and-murder-daisy-dalrymple-11

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I love this series! I won't give any of the plot away, but like usual, Daisy helps her husband Alec, solve a murder! Who is glad that Daisy and Alec are finally married?! Me!

That Summer

that-summer

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: More of a 4.5! It wasn't a great work of art, but I really loved the story. It also didn't have the "everything works out for everyone" quality that a lot of the popular non-linear novels have. The people where more flawed and love was bittersweet. But I really couldn't put it down!

The Life We Bury

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Rating: 5 Stars

Review: A college student who doesn't have many relatives, shows up at a nursing home hoping to write a biography for a class assignment. However, most of the residents are senile. There is one resident, though, who isn't. The college student, Joe, meets Carl Iverson.
Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

Joe's life is never the same after writing the story of Carl's life. And The Life We Bury challenges us to look at life differently, too.

Pick. This. Up.

The Peach Keeper

the-peach-keeper

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I love the magical quality of all of Allen's novels, but this one, which touched on the relationship between grandmothers and granddaughters was quite special.

classics

Lady of Quality

lady-of-quality

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: I love Georgette Heyer novels. Like all of romance novels set in the Regency period, this one was wonderful. If you like her novels, read this. It wasn't my favorite, but it's good.

Little Women

little-women

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: This classic novel is always a great read. I reread it for book club.


read these

The Life We Bury

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry

Be Frank With Me

My Name is Lucy Barton

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Heartburn

if you have time

That Summer

The Idea of Love

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6)

The Sugar Queen

Commonwealth

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin #1)

don't bother smaller

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Lola Quartet

When to Rob a Bank




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Categories: What I Read Last Month Tags: , ,
It’s Been Awhile… And Anniversary Photos

About 10 months... actually.



Before my last post on books, I wrote about my diagnosis with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The year before I was diagnosed was very hard because I was in so much pain and not working. Doctors acted like I was insane, but I knew that the pain was real. I tried to end my life 6 months before I was diagnosed, so while I was trying to blog in 2015. It was very hard to leave out of my blog. I felt really ashamed, but the hospital was able to adjust some medication errors that happened due to moving from SC to DC to NC.

I am only talking about this to help end the stigma because I reached out for help to 6 different people who only shrugged it off because it was uncomfortable for me to talk to them about it. I only got medical attention after I took the pills. Chronic pain, especially undiagnosed, is a burden because doctors are not always compassionate.

Without the diagnosis, treatment, and help of counselors who took the time to understand things like sleep hygiene is meaningless when you have hypersomnia, related to EDS, I might not be alive, still.

However, while I am physically trying my best to make friends, be productive, and live a life that I can be proud of, my body doesn't always keep up. So, I spent my non-blogging time in counseling, physical therapy, traveling 3 hours to see my EDS specialist, 1.5 hours to get Botox for my dystonia, and all of the medical appointments that come with being chronically ill. I haven't read as much this year. I have spent more time watching TV. But that's ok. That's what I needed.

I would love to start blogging again, if people want to read again! I want to educate people on EDS. I want to talk about life. I want to talk about make up. I want to talk about friendships. I want to talk about my amazingly cute dogs.



Third Anniversary!

My third wedding anniversary was two days ago (I woke up with a horrific virus! What a present!), so I do want to leave you with a few of my favorite photos that we had taken by our friend, Elli, who is the photographer behind Due West Photography in Charlotte, NC. She does everything from professional head-shots to weddings to engagement photos! We did ours at the beautiful Big Rock Nature Preserve in Charlotte, NC. If you are looking for a great place for engagement photos and a great photographer, get Due West Photography and go to Big Rock Nature Preserve! We LOVE these.

The photos commemorate what hard times Brian and I have been through, but how we made it to the other side, much stronger. We couldn't have picked a better anniversary to capture our photos. It was also nice because we didn't have engagement photos, since we had such a short engagement.

If you follow my Instagram, I've posted a few on there! I couldn't contain my excitement with how well they turned out. If you've taken engagement photos, I have a new respect for you. Picking outfits is hard!

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography  

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography  

Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography



Fall Engagement Photo Charlotte NC Big Rock Nature Preserve by Due West Photography



Thanks for taking time to read this, look at the photos, and stop by. I hope to keep updating and writing, so that you'll come back soon!



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Categories: Chronic Illness Tags: , , ,
What I Read: January 2016
Well, I read a lot of Phyrne Fisher novels, since I want to catch up with the TV show. I tried out a new series. And I picked up a few new authors, too!

what i read january   Contemporary

Some Luck

some luck

Verdict: A great look into the 1920's to 1950's. Must read for saga-lovers.

I loved this novel. I can see why it Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Not only was the story highly entertaining, but the prose was beautiful. The story was amazing! It followed so many people, who went through so many changes. During the time of the novel, America went through a ton of changes. Since the family started on a farm, but slowly integrated technology.

The Book of Speculation

the book of speculation

Verdict: Not what I expected. Great for learning about circuses.

I thought that this novel would be more about books. It was about a librarian, but a former librarian. The novel is really more about how an old novel intertwines with a family of circus performers. While I liked how the novel was written, it wasn't what I was expected. I was thinking something more along the lines of Charlie Lovett's novels.

The Green Mill Murder (Phryne Fisher #5)

the green mill murder

Verdict: Another fun, quick, mystery.

The Green Mill Murder was interesting because it was based on Phryne's attendance at a dance-a-ton. It reminded it me a little of that Gilmore Girl's episode where Rory dances with her mom and that thing happens with Dean... but at least there wasn't murder there!

Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher #6)

blood and circuses

Verdict: A fun Phryne Fisher novel where she leaves the life of luxury.

Phyrne leaves the life of luxury to help her friends in the circus to find out what keeps hurting the circus. Along the way, Phryne has to pick up a new name, learn a new trade, exchange her clothes for used and mended ones. It was nice to see how she acted with a different place, with a different personality, and not in a position of authority.

The Longest Night

the longest night

Verdict: Williams made a statement, but it lacked entertainment value.

I couldn't fault the great statement that Williams made about morality standards imposed by society, but it lacked entertainment value. It was dry, boring, and I couldn't quit cringing. The novel skipped around among narrators as it followed Nat, an Army wife, her husband, Paul, a young Army Specialist, and his boss and his boss’s wife. The most cringe-worthy moments were in the young husband's mind. I am hope it was meant to be slightly cringe-inducing when he describes meeting his wife and thinks of her as loose, but then over the course of their marriage, never gets a chance to know the real her and why she acts the way he does. His temper flares whenever Nat does anything that embarrasses him, even having fun in front of strangers. The shame follows her wherever she goes, even when he is gone.

Overall, the setting, which is in the middle of nowhere, and involves nuclear energy, radiation, cover ups, affairs, Indian reservations, and apparently a lot of Mormons, who are all new and confusing to the Army people, was also bizarre and slightly off putting from a reader’s perspective. I ended up getting the audio-book from the library, so I heard a different voice for every narrator, so that could have influenced my perception.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing an ebook copy to review.



American Housewife

American Houswife

Verdict: Smart, biting, and funny. Must read for women with a sense of humor.

I couldn't put this down! I thought that it was quick, funny, and insightful. My favorite story was about the reality show. The final story almost felt like a horror story. I had the audio version of this novel from my library, which was fantastic. There were several narrators who were familiar because they read books that I listen to a lot.

I let my husband listen to a few of the stories, which he loved, too.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing an ebook copy to review.



The Crossing

the crossing

Verdict: A must read for Harry Bosch or Lincoln Lawyer fans.

I look forward to Michael Connelly's fall release every year. This year didn't disappoint. Harry Bosh worked as an investigator for his brother, defense lawyer Mickey Haller. Bosh was torn about working for the defense, but like any good homicide detective, he didn't want to just prove that the defendant was innocent, he wanted to find the guilty. It was made more interesting because the guilty party was very dangerous.

Since Bosch is now retired and Connelly combined Bosch and Haller in a single novel, I have to wonder if Connelly will move to just write about The Lincoln Lawyer.

Austenland

austenland

Verdict: Great entertainment for Austen fans who are looking for light fun and romance.

It's not a genius piece of writing, but it's incredibly entertaining. If you like Jane Austen (like you can recall the plots to all of her novels), plus quirky main characters and romances, this is for you. You can easily read it in a day or two. I had a lot of fun finding the parallels, which were sometimes laid out by the author for less well-versed readers, but the entertainment value is certainly high. I think I need to read the sequel!

Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law

Verdict: Great for people who like mysteries who keep you on edge!

I fell in love with Rhys Bowen's mysteries when I read the Her Royal Spyness series. So, I picked up this series about Molly Murphy, who is on the run from Irish authorities and found a way to America. Unfortunately, there was a murder that complicated her entry, but it introduced her to a handsome detective. I loved Molly's determination to find the actual person who committed the murder and make her way in New York City.

Death of Riley

death of riley

Verdict: Great follow up!

If you like Murphy's Law, Death of Riley is a great follow up! Molly finds herself learning from a real private investigator and living with the artsy crowd. I loved it! I can't wait to keep reading the series. I had to make myself read other novels, or I would have finished the entire series within a week or so!

Eight Hundred Grapes

eight hundred grapes

Verdict: A great light read!

I read a lot of reviews that were 50/50 on this. Some people hated it, but others loved it. I liked it. I thought it was a touching story about family, figuring out what matters, and making the life you want.

Ruddy Gore (Phryne Fisher #7)

Ruddy Gore

Verdict: A big change for Phryne

I have been reading as many Phryne Fisher novels as possible, so I can watch the television show, since the shows are not in the same order of the books. I can't wait to finish watching the show, since it is so well done.

This novel was a big change because Phryne actually finds a man that she seems like she wants to keep!

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

The Poisoner's Handbook

Verdict: A must read!

I have wanted to read this novel for a long time. I love the Jazz Age, but this novel gives an amazing look at the underbelly of society. It also talks more about how life really was for most people, not just the glamorous people, of the Jazz Age.

On Netflix, I watched a documentary based on the novel. The documentary puts pictures and videos to a lot of what went on in the novel, However, the novel was redundant, since the documentary focused more of a few of the cases touched on in the novel, while the novel expanded greatly on the fight against prohibition, since the bootleg liquor was killing so many people, as well as gave insight into other parts of how hard Dr. Norris and others fought to legitimize forensic sciences.

Thornwood House

Thornwood House

Verdict: An haunting search into the past

I couldn't put this novel down. I would dare to put this novel into the Gothic category. Since it was Australian, I thought that made it more interesting. The main character, Audrey, inherits an old house on an enormous amount of land in a small, quiet city from the father of her child and the only man she ever loved, after he commits suicide. However, she didn't even know that he had the property or any living family. She moves there with her 11 year old daughter. There, Audrey becomes obsessed with the house and the surrounding property. She becomes enthralled with the home's former resident, who appears to her in dreams, as she tries to find out if he really killed his wife.



Normally, I wouldn't have touched a book like this. And as I read this novel, I kept asking myself why I was so enchanted with it. Finally, I realized it was Gothic and Southern Gothic literature is my favorite. If I could have my dream job, it would be as an English professor, specializing in that. So, that's why I think I found Thornwood House so enthralling.



classics

The Warden (Chronicles of Barsetshire #1)

The Warden Anthony Trollope

Verdict: The shortest Trollope novel that I've ever read!

This isn't my favorite Trollope novel, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  read these

American Housewife

Austenland

Eight Hundred Grapes

Some Luck

if you have time

The Poisoner's Handbook

Murphy's Law (Or the entire series!)

don't bother smaller

The Longest Night

The Book of Speculation

What I Read: Round Up of Monthly Reads You can read my past monthly round ups: December 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

Also, you can find other individual book reviews, tips on saving money on Audible books, book recommendations based on genres and all things related to literature here!

Don’t forget that you can add me as a friend on Goodreads so I can steal ideas on what to read next–or see your ratings, so I know what to stay away from!

 

Did you read anything good last month? Are you participating in any challenges? What should I be reading?

 

Will be linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick-Lit!



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Categories: Book Review, What I Read Last Month Tags: ,
New Year / New Diagnosis
I am not sure if it is fitting or just plain mean that I was at the doctor's office on December 31 and January 1. On January 1, I received the definite diagnosis that I have EDS, which stands for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

New Year New Diagnois

My Story:

Last year, during EDS awareness month (May), another blogger in a closed group that is for other bloggers who blog to bring awareness to health problems shared a post about the symptoms of EDS, and I thought "Wow, that's me. It fits me perfectly." However, even after talking to the blogger, I couldn't figure out how getting diagnosed would help me. It seemed like a lot of trouble for no pay off. Like, there would be no treatment or difference in my treatments. I was in so much pain, though, I also couldn't and can't think clearly.

Towards the end of last year, my mom emailed me information about EDS because she thought that it sounded like me. However, at this time, I was (and still am) suffering from multiple, debilitating bursitis points, need PT, but the therapists injure me, and I'm always wearing 2-4 braces. Not to mention, pain has consumed my life. I am housebound. I have a few acquaintances who are more of a problem to have because they only see me when I am well, so they expect more out of me and don't take my limitations into consideration.

I also kept hitting a brick wall when I went to orthopedic specialists. I would leave with a 45 minute lecture on fibromyalgia and no one would do any imaging on my problem areas or help me in anyway. I thought I was losing my mind. I really can't count how many times that I left a doctor's office sobbing because my hope for help had been crushed.

After spending some time on inspire.com's message boards, reading the stories of other people with EDS, I realized that a diagnosis would mean that other doctors would take me seriously and treat me with respect. And if they didn't, I could know it was them, and not me. Unfortunately, I have suffered a lot of emotional pain and physical pain because doctors didn't take me seriously. As I've talked to other EDS patients, I have learned that they get taken seriously after they are diagnosed.

While geneticists can diagnose EDS, in the US, no one doctor treats it, which is why I went to 3 rheumatologists and a fibromyalgia specialist who all said my hypermobility was off the charts, but never thought that I might have EDS, which requires specialized physical therapy, at a minimum.

I chose to see a specialist who works with diagnosing and treating EDS patients. His entire practice is devoted to 1 or 2 hour long appointments to fully address all of the patients needs because EDS patients can be complex. I had the misfortune of being one of the most complex to come in. I do think that is because I am almost 28 years old and have been to every specialist under the sun without any relief.

My EDS:

I have features that overlap types I and III, but they are essentially treated the same. Type I just means that I bruise more easily and have elastic skin. I have hypermobile joints all over my body. During the examination, I learned that I was hypermobile in places that I didn't know could be hypermobile, and all of the cracking left me a little bit sick.

I did a little research and found this:

For each individual with EDS, the clinical story is unique. There isn't a single answer as to why an individual might have features of more than one type of EDS. The first step that they could take to sort this out is to visit a medical geneticist. It is possible that they might benefit from laboratory testing to confirm the molecular or biochemical basis of the form of EDS that they have. Sometimes, but not always, the testing helps to clarify the clinical confusion. It may be, however, that they have features of more than one type of EDS because they have a connective tissue disorder that hasn't yet been "described," meaning that the underlying protein abnormality or gene mutation is unknown. Future research studies will be necessary to answer the question. Answered by Melanie Pepin MS, CGC

So, your EDS won't look like mine or anyone else's EDS, which is why it takes an exam.

Overall, what I have is a connective tissue disorder.

I haven't gotten very far into the treatment process yet. I am meeting with my local physiatrist tomorrow to start working on getting the MRIs that I have been seeking for the last year. I will also see my other doctor soon to change my medications. And finally, I go back to the EDS doctor next week to have custom braces fitted and meet with him again. Oh, and at some point, I need to find a physical therapist who will read a 200 page book and spend 40 minutes alone with me each week to use those techniques.

I am not an expert or a doctor. But, if something is wrong with your body, remember that you know yourself the best and that you have to advocate for yourself. I haven't been an EDS patient for long, but I've been a professional patient for a long time.

Anyway, I wanted to share my story, so readers if anyone else is struggling with hypermobility and or unexplained pain and thinks they may have EDS, I want to encourage them to bring their concerns to a trusted doctor. [Sidenote: I had plenty of doctors tell me not to waste time getting examined because it would hurt and be a waste of time because they didn't believe that I had it, when I have a severe and complex case. Once of the doctors that discouraged me had only met me once and just looked at my knees.] Also, do your own research to bring to the doctor. My great doctor didn't know the process about how to get diagnosed. You don't go to a rheumatologist. I waited two months to see one and get laughed out. You need to get an appointment with a geneticist ASAP.

If you think you have it, please look into the symptoms further, and approach your most trusted doctor.

I recommend going to your local EDS support group and joining inspire.com to ask about the best places to get diagnosed.



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Categories: EDS, Health Tags: ,