Reviews: French Twist & French Toast by Glynis Astie

Title: French Twist (Book One) & French Toast (Book Two)
Author: Glynis Astie
Genre/Audience: Romance, chick lit, adult
Publication: 2013 & 2014
Source: For review, CLP Tours

French Twist and French Toast are the first two books in a planned trilogy. The third book, French Fry, is not yet released. I’m doing two reviews in one. :) french twist

French Twist tells the story of Sydney Bennett, a young woman and perfectionist who had given up on love until meeting a charming French man, Louis, whose Paris company had sent him to work in California. Within days, the new couple have fallen in love, restoring Sydney’s faith in men and romance. People may think they’re crazy, especially when Louis mentions marriage in just a matter of weeks, but their chemistry and connection are both undeniable. Can Sydney stop worrying long enough to enjoy the ride, or will her nervous tendencies ruin everything she’s finally found?

I thought this book was completely charming, fun, and romantic. It’s a love story that most girls dream of, and I was pleasantly surprised to read that Glynis, the author, had based this novel on her own life and romance – what a story! I related to this story from the get go; many of you already know, Jerry and I had our own whirlwind romance that involved him moving to New York from California for me, and an engagement within two months. I totally understood Sydney’s concerns about not wanting to be judged, but also loving him enough to not let those judgements interfere.

Sydney is a great character who pulls you right into her story, which is very conversational and casual. You will definitely feel like you are living right along with this great story, and experiencing everything right alongside Sydney including her exciting romance and crazy but loveable family. I have just one small complaint, which is that sometimes the dialogue was overly stiff and formal (“it is,” “I am,” etc.). Other than that, I had a really fun time reading this and highly recommend it for light, fun, summer reading. You will get wrapped up in the story and swept away by the romance of it all.

french toastFrench Toast is a direct sequel, which picks up almost exactly where French Twist left off. Sydney and Louis are now newlyweds whose newly-wedded bliss is slowly wearing off. The couple is enduring massive amounts of stress including Louis being laid off from his job, mounting bills, and the continued pursuit of perfection in the form of their second and third weddings (the first was a town hall quickie, the second will be in Cali and is Sydney’s dream wedding, and the third will be in France for Louis’ family). Sydney is quickly learning that marriage isn’t always easy as the rose-colored glasses come off, and she sometimes questions if she made the right decision in wedding Louis so quickly.

I enjoyed this story just as much as the first, as the first chronicles the whirlwind romance and the accompanying excitement, and this second installment covers real life and learning to become a wife after the wedding. Sydney and Louis face many real life obstacles that many people can relate to, but also many joys such as a new niece being born (being that I’m pregnant, I could totally relate to the hormonal pregnant sister, by the way – haha!), and the continued love and support from family and friends, but most importantly, from each other.

I highly recommend this series, and am anxiously awaiting book three. I feel like I really know these characters and their families, and I am dying to see where life takes them next!

Ratings: 4/5

Bumpdate: 14 Weeks

1406039008599I’m 14 weeks today! Baby is the size of a lemon, about 3.5 inches, and 1.5 ounces.

My stomach looks a lot smaller in the picture this week. I’m guessing I’m not as bloated as I have been in the past couple of weeks. I was kind of worried, but we JUST got back from our 14 week ultrasound and doctor’s appointment and everything was good! I drank some OJ beforehand too, to try and get the baby to move so Jerry could see. The baby did in fact move a lot! The tech was shocked… she said, “I’m not sure who the baby gets this from since you both seem pretty calm!” Haha! We had a quick tummy check with the doctor and heard the (fast) heartbeat – very  cool. I’ll go back in late August for my 18 week appointment, then finally our 20 week anatomical ultrasound when we’ll finally find out the gender! Wahoo!

Baby C at 14 weeks! Pretty sure I see lips and a chin now! Haha!

Baby C at 14 weeks! Pretty sure I see lips and a chin now! Haha!

I had a pretty good week last week, as far as not feeling too sick. The last couple of days I started to feel a bit bad again though, and I felt sick in the mornings. The sickness went away though, so I’m glad I went to work and pushed through it! I had my “Pregnancy Pop Drops,” and just tried to take things easy. I continue to feel out of breath though and pant like I used to when I was obese when I go up the stairs again sometimes lol. My legs also ache on and off. I forgot to ask the doctor about that today…

I keep waking up and seeing if I’ve popped yet, but I don’t think so! My stomach has definitely gotten larger and rounder, but I still think I’m in that “is she pregnant or just fat?” phase. I’ve read that the stomach usually pops in the 14th week, so we’ll see. I’m actually kind of excited for this to happen so that I will definitely just look pregnant and not like I’ve gained all my weight back! Ha!

My eating is fine. In fact, it’s better than fine and I feel constantly like I need to slow it down. I am VERY self-conscious about the weight gain, as you probably have already gathered, and I know I’ve gained more than I should have at this point. I just feel hungry all the time though, so it’s tough!

And just because I’ll want to know what life was like during all of this… lately, I’ve been watching the show Awkward on DVD when hubby is at work at night. We’ve been watching Masters of Horror together on DVD when he’s home. I’m also binge watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I really like all of these shows! I’ve also been going to concerts with my parents on some Wednesday nights. We saw a Zac Brown Tribute Band a couple of weeks ago who were phenomenal! They are having concerts at one of the local parks (Barnard) and at the beach. This has been fun while hubby is at work and I’m lonely! We also got ceiling fans/lights installed in the living room and nursery yesterday, and also purchased carpeting for the nursery. It’ll be a lot of fun to see the room start to come together!

Conversations With the Formerly Fat

I had an interesting encounter yesterday. It was one of the first that really made me realize how differently I am probably viewed now that I am no longer morbidly obese. If you haven’t been around the blog long, then you might not know that I’ve lost over 100 pounds naturally through working my butt off, both physically and mentally. It hit me yesterday, through a very nasty statement by a patron at work, that people really do still judge fat people in the harshest of lights. Let me explain.

So yesterday I had a woman come up. She needed some assistance and got to talking about movies. She said “I just saw Tammy.” I began to reply that I thought it was funny when she interrupted me loudly with this statement: “I’m sorry but she [Melissa McCarthy] is just disgusting. She repulses me and I don’t even want to LOOK at her.”

Um, what?

So clearly this lady is repulsed by overweight people. If, last night, I had still been the nearly 300 pound girl that I was 2.5 years ago, I can’t even imagine the thoughts that would have been running through this woman’s head as I helped her. She would have been saying to herself, “this girl is disgusting. She repulses me.” Perhaps she would have even gone to someone else since my fat body would have repulsed her so much, despite the fact that I was helping her.

I can guarantee this lady just looked at me, a fairly average sized girl with a little chub, and figured that I would commiserate with her. She assumed that I, too, would bemoan the “disgusting, repulsive,” highly talented, incredibly successful, and really rather beautiful Melissa McCarthy. She had no idea that I have my own fat story. She assumed that because, like her, I wasn’t fat, that I would agree with her that fat people are worthless and cannot even be looked at because they are just soooo disgusting. Sorry lady, I’m not a complete and utter jerk.

I don’t really know what I’m getting at except that I was a bit enraged. For one, you can never know someone’s story just by looking at them. This lady had no idea the struggles that I endured to no longer be fat. And why? Because there are people in this world who look down so much on “fat people,” that we are trained to believe we are not good enough if we are fat. Newsflash: you are. I was still the same girl I always was, even when I was fat. In fact, I believe that I am who I am BECAUSE I was fat. I fell back on a lot of other things since I didn’t have the looks. I developed a unique sense of humor so that I could AT LEAST be the funny friend if I couldn’t be the pretty one. I also found books. My fatness made me incredibly shy. My shyness led me to books. My life? It kind of revolves around books and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And you know what else? I met my husband based on the fact that we were both fat. Yes, we met on a weight loss website. How’s that for fate and destiny? If I had never been fat, I would never have been on MyFitnessPal. If I had never been on MFP, I never would have met Jerry, and I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like now if that had never happened.

I guess the other thing this really got me thinking about is that we really just ought to be nicer. I could brush up a bit on this lesson myself, truth be told. It is not okay to judge people based on their looks. Our worth is based on so much more than our appearances. Perhaps I have a unique perspective in all of this because I’ve seen and been on both sides of the coin: I’ve been the morbidly obese person, but I’ve also been the average size person that apparently people moan and complain about obese people to. Well I DON’T want to hear it.

So to this lady, judger of fat people, your conversation with this formerly fat girl was a complete and utter flop. I do not agree with you, not even in the slightest. You may think Melissa McCarthy and all the other fat girls of the world are disgusting, but I disagree: Melissa McCarthy, and even the old fat me, are a heck of a lot prettier than you. You are ugly on the inside, and that’s what truly counts.

pizap.com13944903714021

Same old me I always was, just a bit (okay, A LOT) bigger.

Bumpdate: 13 Weeks

1405439153108

Second trimester, woohoo, finally!!!

Random thoughts: I think I should start wearing a darker shirt because this light one kind of blends in with the wall. But I’ve been using this one to compare since 6 weeks, so I don’t know! Also, I don’t think I’m going to use the bumpdate “form” thing I’ve been using anymore. I think I’d rather just kind of talk, so here we go!

I am 13 weeks today and the baby is almost 3 inches long, and weighs an ounce! He/she is the size of a peach.

I started feeling a bit better over the last few days! I’ve had random bursts of energy (naps still required on days off), that have enabled me to be a tiny bit more productive. On Sunday, Jerry and I went grocery shopping, started cleaning out the garage, and I also did dishes and five loads of laundry. It was all very tiring, but I felt good about being productive, and of course, I took a nap after.

That said, I also started to exercise a bit again! In the last few days, I have gone on two 20 minute walks outside. This really isn’t much, especially considering I ran a half-marathon this time last year, but I’m feeling pretty good about it, and I’m hoping to build up my exercise a bit as I get into the second trimester more.

baby body

baby arm

Baby says “throw your hands up in the air!”

This is all good news, but the absolute best thing(s) that happened over the last week were hearing the baby’s heartbeat and having another ultrasound. On Wednesday, July 9th, we had a quick trip to the doctor to hear the heartbeat (160 BPM). The doctor found it very quickly and it was a beautiful sound. The following day, I had my first trimester screening which involved an ultrasound. This time (it was my 4th one!), the baby finally looked like a baby! It moved around A LOT and I loved seeing the little arms and legs too. It arched its back and punched its arms… too cute! Jerry had to work though so my mom came. She loved seeing the baby… it was the coolest sight! I’m really excited for our 14 week ultrasound and appointment next week though so that Jerry can see the baby wiggle too. :)

Target had a really good coupon last week: $20 off of baby stuff if you spent $100 or more. We used three… bahaha. I got the baby bassinet for our bedroom, then my parents got us the baby’s crib and dresser/changing table. My mom and I went when I took her out for birthday last week. We went to see the movie “Tammy,” get dinner, go get above baby stuff at Target, and also went to Kid to Kid, a consignment type store for baby stuff. We were pleasantly surprised to see that they sold maternity clothes! I had no idea. We also just happened to be there during their semi-annual sale (this was our first time ever going there), and got really good discounts on it. They also have a $1.00 rack which was 40% off, so a lot of the things I got were only 60 cents a piece. I should be almost all set on maternity clothes now, might just need a few more pants and warm clothes for the fall/winter.

All in all, I’ve had a pretty good week! I’m really excited and relieved to finally be in the second trimester. It’s been a long time coming since we had issues from weeks 7-9, and I am so glad I can stop worrying as much as I did before! Jerry and I are also dying to find out the gender. They told us 20 weeks but we’re hoping sooner!

Itty bitty baby leg!

Itty bitty baby leg!

Review: Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

Title: Looking For Melooking
Author: Beth Hoffman
Genre/Audience: Southern fiction, adult
Publication: Pamela Dorman Books, 2013
Source: Own

This is long overdue. I mean, really. Beth Hoffman’s debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, is one of my all time favorite novels. I loved the Southern feel and setting, the coming of age story, the endearing characters. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading her second and newest novel after much too long!

Teddi Overman left her home in Kentucky many years ago for a new life in Charleston, where she runs a shop renovating furniture and antiques. Her life is good as she surrounds herself with wonderful friends and coworkers, but something has always been missing in her life; many years earlier, her brother disappeared. It shattered her family, as he has been presumed dead, but Teddi has always felt that he is still alive, somewhere in the forest or nature that he loved so much and felt a strong connection to. Her family has suffered greatly and Teddi will do whatever she can to find out what happened to Josh.

Family plays a vital role in this novel: what does it mean to be family? Can we ever forgive or forget? Teddy’s family is not a happy one after reeling from the disappearance. She feels a disconnect from her mother who has grown angry and distant over the years. Teddi tries to repair the relationship, though it sometimes seems moot and impossible. Even though Josh has been gone for a number of years, his family has never been able to recuperate fully. It hasn’t helped that there have been no concrete answers.

Nature is another very important theme in this novel that I enjoyed. Josh was always a bit different, maybe even a bit strange, but Teddi loved him greatly. Josh had a passion for nature and wildlife. He did everything he could to help wounded animals, and felt most at ease in the woods. Teddi often wondered if he may have disappeared into nature.

I really enjoyed this novel for many of the same reasons I loved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt so much. I thought the characters were very well developed and endearing, Teddi in particular. Though you feel a sense of sadness from her, you’ll admire her strength in leaving, but also in knowing when to come back. Just like in CeeCee, you also get a sense of what family really means after reading this one. And of course, as always, I love anything that is Southern, like this novel!

This story has Beth Hoffman’s trademark style: beautiful, lyrical writing with a rich Southern setting. It also has a strong air of mystery behind it that will keep you guessing until the end. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

My Rating: 5/5

Bumpdate: 12 Weeks

1404833655153

Date: July 8, 2014

How far along: 12 weeks today!

The belly size: Definitely starting to look pronounced!

The baby size: Baby is the size of a large plum! He or she is about 2.5 inches and weighs half an ounce!

Weight gain: About 7-8 pounds. Ate a lot this weekend for the 4th of July and my nephew’s first birthday though so who knows. Yuck!

Symptoms/how I’m feeling: I’ve been feeling very emotional lately. Like, probably once a day I’ll hear a random song on the radio that gets me all teary eyed. These are usually songs that don’t even have significance to me  – haha. I heard one of my favorite running songs and then missed running and almost cried. I’ll also hear a sappy song and get all emotional. Then, I was reading about epidurals and almost cried because dang, that stuff looks scary! Also, I’ve been getting SO out of breath from nothing, and I’m very thirsty! Oh, and my legs ache intermittently. However, I haven’t been too nauseous lately! Good news there.

Sleep: Not too bad!

Eating: I’ve been into bagels lately. Mmmm. I’ve been getting “everything” bagels with garlic herb cream cheese from my favorite bagel place. We also had a lot of good (bad) food from our 4th of July party, nephew’s first birthday party, and then our first fire pit of the season with my family where we had S’mores. Mmmm.

Jerry with his first ever s'more, me roasting marshmallows with my brother and sister in law.

Jerry with his first ever s’more, me roasting marshmallows with my brother and my sister-in-law.

Exercising: Jerry and I decided to try and get back to the gym this week. I’ll just do a little bit of treadmill walking.

Clothes: I can still wear some of my regular clothes, but have been wearing maternity shirts a lot because I’m feeling self-conscious.

Missing: Feeling and looking fit!

Best moment: We had a great long, holiday weekend celebrating with the family and went to see fireworks. My nephew was impressed!

Looking forward to: Tomorrow’s appointment to hear the heartbeat, and Thursday’s first trimester screening test because we’ll have an ultrasound! Also, we’re almost into the second trimester so we’ll be more out of the danger zone in just a week!

Past Bumpdates:

11 Week

10 Week

9 Week

8 Week

Review: Chez Stinky by Susan C. Daffron

Title: Chez Stinkychez
Author: Susan C. Daffron
Genre/Audience: Chick lit, adult
Publication: Magic Fur Press, 2013
Source: For review, CLP Tours

Kat Stevens has a comfortable but boring life as a technical writer, working for the boss from hell. Her life turns to chaos though with one phone call: her aunt, whom she hasn’t seen since she was eight, has passed away and left her estate to Kat in small town Alpine Grove, a few hours away. This includes a run down, stinky house, a large sum of money, and MANY cats and dogs. Kat can keep it all, but only if she agrees to care for the beloved pets. Kat must decide if she’ll stay in Alpine Grove, or return to her boring, old life.

This book was a lot of fun, and a super fast read. It had a varied and interesting cast of characters including her selfish, ignorant boss (who kind of made me laugh, I’ll admit), and a slew of townsfolk including Larry the lawyer, and Joel, who Kat may or may not be falling for. All the mishaps of the old, decrepit house were hilarious to read about as Kat had no idea what to do at times, such as a 3-legged cat falling behind a hole in the wall… yikes. Perhaps my favorite part of the story, however, were all the animals… no surprise here, though! I had a feeling I’d love this one as soon as I saw the cover. The animals, though a lot of work, were quite endearing, especially Linus, a gigantic but loveable dog.

I really enjoyed this one and love that it featured animals so heavily. If you’re a fan of chick lit or animals, two things that I personally love, then check this one out! I’d highly recommend it!

Bumpdate: 11 Weeks

 

1404319681004

Date: July 2, 2014

How far along: 11 weeks and 1 day! Picture was taken yesterday when I was exactly 11 weeks, but I missed posting my bumpdate because it was a very special occasion… my nephew’s first birthday!

The belly size: Looks about the same as last week, I’d say. I had a dream the other night that I woke up and it was huge lol.

The baby size: About 1.6 inches and a quarter of an ounce… the size of a lime! Big!

Weight gain: Ugh… 7 pounds total. I’m hoping to not gain much more until the second trimester, but the issue is that because of the bleed, I had to give up running and other intense exercise, which is what my body is used to. I have to stop obsessing about the scale.

Symptoms/how I’m feeling: Headaches, only a little bit of nausea, and a new symptom… occasional heartburn. Tums are my friend!

Sleep: Okay! I don’t have to get up quite as much to pee it seems… maybe 4 times a night now?

Eating: Currently craving gnocchi, though that could change in an instant. Whenever I see a picture of a certain food, I start craving it and feel that I need it right away. I saw a picture of a cupcake yesterday and wanted one really badly, then just a few minutes later, wanted gnocchi instead. That craving is still around lol. I had a terrible chocolate craving at work yesterday. I dug around in my purse looking for money to get a chocolate bar from the vending machine but had no change! Luckily, I found a couple of Hershey kisses from a coworker. When Jerry got home from work and I was sleeping, he had this Lindt dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt bar. He offered me some and I woke up, ate it, then went back to sleep. Oh yes, will wake for chocolate! Haha.

Exercising: None again. I asked my doctor at my appointment on Friday, and running is still off the table. He said we can re-assess at my 14 week appointment and ultrasound. I really should go walking at least, but meh. Tired.

Clothes: Wearing about half maternity clothes, half regular clothes. I really need more maternity clothes but they are expensive! Pants at Target were around $35.00. The maternity clothes I have right now are from the Goodwill and a garage sale. I went to another Goodwill over the weekend but had no luck there. I will keep searching!

Missing: Nothing really this week!

Best moment: Nothing super exciting lately. I had my appointment last Friday and we were disappointed that the doctor didn’t listen for a heartbeat or even measure me. However, it was good to hear that he didn’t have a whole lot of concerns since the subchorionic bleed has been gone for about two weeks now!

Looking forward to: When the doctor was getting ready to leave after merely talking to us and nothing else, I expressed concern because of the bleed, and asked when we would get to hear the heartbeat since I thought we were going to that day. He told us it was too soon, but to come back at 12 weeks… so we are heading back a week from today to hear the heart! Yay! The following day, we have our first trimester screening and will get to see the baby on an ultrasound again. Woohoo!

Past Bumpdates:

10 Week

9 Week

8 Week

A first birthday.

On July 1, 2013, I became an aunt.

babyBefore Nicholas Jr. was born, I knew I would love him. But until the moment I first saw him, with his thick, dark baby hair, I didn’t know just how much. I knew in the instant I first saw him that I loved him more than I could understand before he was born.

baby bornI was so lucky to be there at his birth. I remember the excitement and getting the phone call early in the morning: Nicholas was being born today! We rushed to the hospital, anxiously awaiting his arrival with my brother and sister-in-law. It was, by and far, one of the most exciting days ever, filled with nerves and joy… but especially joy.

baby wedd

One of my favorite pictures from my wedding!

Now this big boy who stole my heart and made me a proud aunt is a year old. I can hardly believe it. He makes everyone laugh with his silly antics, perfect teeth, curly hair, and most of all, the fabulous face in which he squinches up his eyes and laughs with a strange little snorting/breathing noise. And he knows it’s hilarious, so he does it repeatedly, just like his old trick in which he used to stick his tongue out constantly.

IMG950375

Eating Oreos with the famous face.

To Nicholas, on your first birthday: I hope you read this someday and know how much you are loved. Everyone who meets you is charmed by you. It’s impossible to be around you and NOT smile. You have brought so much happiness to everyone who knows you. Thanks for making me an aunt. Thanks for always making me laugh, even on the crappiest of days. I love watching you grow, even when I can’t believe quite how big you’ve gotten in such a short amount of time. Here’s to many more years of funny faces and awesome hair.

Bumpdate: 10 Weeks

1403625589877-1

I feel like a slacker since I haven’t posted anything since my last bumpdate. I promise, this blog won’t be a full on pregnancy/baby blog. I still want it to be a combination of everything I love including baby, married life, books, fitness, life in general, etc. Right now though, I just don’t have a whole lot of energy, and these updates are really important to me so I find the energy for these at least! I know I will like looking back on these someday, and so will our future child! I promise to have some other, non-baby related and/or bookish posts up soon. So here we go!

Date: June 24, 2014

How far along: 10 weeks today!

The belly size: Looks bigger this week. I heard that the stomach starts poking out at week 10, not necessarily from the baby, but from other physical changes.

The baby size: A little longer than an inch and about a quarter of an ounce. Aww, widdle baby.

Weight gain: I’ll find out Friday at my appointment. I don’t really want to know lol.

Symptoms/how I’m feeling: I felt pretty good the first half of last week! I thought the worst was overour cookies, but the last couple of days I haven’t felt too hot, and I battled a couple of migraines again.

Sleep: Not good. I’ve been getting up more and more to pee!

Eating: Nothing of note here, although I was craving chocolate chip cookies really bad, so I found a recipe online, Jerry and I whipped them up, and they were incredible. We both agreed… best cookies ever! Also… had to turn down hot dogs twice. Oh woe is me.

Exercising: None. :( I’ve been getting light headed when walking the dogs.

Clothes: Caved in and wore maternity pants once last week. I also picked up a few more maternity items at a garage sale. I’ll probably be wearing these items more and more… pants in particular. I can probably hold off on wearing the maternity shirts for a little while longer though.

Missing: I reeeeally wanted cookie dough, but I was good and didn’t do it. You know… raw eggs and all that. I also miss energy and the ability to lift things lol. Before I got pregnant, I was doing a lot of work in my home library, lugging books and unpacking. Now, I don’t really have a lot of energy after work to unpack stuff, but I can’t even move my books around either so that’s kind of on hold until I can get some more help.

Best moment: Haven’t had any bleeding issues in about a week so we are all very relieved – phew!

Looking forward to: My appointment on Friday! Super excited to hear the heartbeat and see how the baby is measuring.

Past Bumpdates:

9 Week

8 Week