22 July 2014

Lost in a world of mystery and romance, my review of Solsbury Hill

Recovering from this surgery is kicking my hind end in a way I hadn't expected. I cannot say much for being stuck in the house, resting when I don't want to be, and missing work. Yes, I actually want to head back to work and see if my little charge is walking. I miss Little Buddy when I go to long without seeing him. Anyway, I spent the day trying very hard to follow doctor's orders and not overdo it. Easier said than done. Refusing to sleep the day away in fear of completely throwing off my schedule, I decided to catch up on the reading I've not had time for as of late. I picked up Solsbury Hill and devoured it in a single afternoon.

Eleanor Abbot is the main character, a 27 year old clothing designer living in New York City. She seems to have it all; an up and coming career, a steady boyfriend who has been her dearest friend since childhood, and just general happiness. We find that she deserves said happiness after being orphaned as a teenager.  I must admit, the first pages of this book left me thinking Eleanor was a bit of a Mary Sue and her beau, Miles, became very much like a Ken doll in my mind. There was a point I nearly put it down, but I am so glad I kept reading. Eleanor is no Mary Sue and soon I was wanting to break Miles' knees. Anyway, a call in the night changes Eleanor's entire world. It is from a friend of her Aunt Alice, asking her to come to England as quickly as possible. Aunt Alice is dying and wants to see her. She agrees to go and in doing so sets off a series of events that will change everything Eleanor thinks she knows about herself. 

Eleanor makes the trip alone, the first thing she's ever done without Miles by her side, which is part of what I enjoyed about the book. I could very much relate to having the childhood sweetheart by your side through thick and thin then learning to do things independently. We see Eleanor grow as she reconnects with Alice and all those who live at her estate, Trent Hall. The family home becomes Eleanor's upon Alice's death and sadly the dear old woman departs leaving her niece with far more questions than answers. The ghost of Emily Bronte appears to help Eleanor put together her family's history and set right a so called "curse" on the women that share her bloodline. The book was inspired by Wuthering Heights and offers us a tale of what might have inspired that beloved classic. Ghosts, a handsome man named Mead, even Catherine and Heathcliff help weave a tale of tragedy, mystery, and romance as Eleanor explores her family's story and in doing so uncovers her own.

Eleanor, Alice, and her friend Gwen were all well developed characters who came alive within the pages. I felt as if I was with them and could feel their emotions so strongly I fought tears several times. It was the same with Emily, her ghostly state, sadness, and determination to help Eleanor tugged at my heartstrings. Conversely, I felt the men were not nearly as well developed. I very much disliked Miles right form the start; he remained plastic with a fake smile for me throughout the book. Mead I found more appealing. He was certainly described as handsome, but as with Miles there was no emotional attachment or any of the things I want to feel toward a male lead. This left me disappointed. 

The book moved slow in places, but it wasn't so horrible I was rolling my eyes at it. There were instances that left me confused, such as Mead pulling a blanket over Eleanor's bare shoulders when she'd just said she was wearing a t-shirt. Neither thing left me overly bothered. That said, it may have been inspired by Wuthering Heights, but Solbury Hill cannot be compared to that novel and needs to be read and judged on it's own merit. 

I would absolutely recommend this novel. The thing that sold me on the story was the incredibly descriptive setting. No longer was I in the West Texas heat, but walking the windswept moors alongside Eleanor. Susan M. Wyler did such an amazing job laying the scene that I felt the chill of the wind, took in the scents of heather, leather, moss and damp earth. It absolutely felt like I was in Yorkshire experiencing everything with Eleanor. Even her dreams took me in with her, the whole tale unfolding like an unrolled tapestry in my mind. Wyler is such a gifted wordsmith that no only did she paint a picture of Trent Hall in my mind, but she brought it to life in such a vivid way that I could not only see, but experience it with all senses. It takes quite the storyteller to give a novel such life, but she managed it. This is why I absolutely suggest Solsbury Hill be added to your TBR list. It is a great summer read.

Ramblings of a Texas Housewife Product Review and/or Giveaway Disclosure- I have received no compensation other than the offer of free product to review and/or giveaway. Any opinions expressed on Ramblings of a Texas Housewife are my own. My reviews are never reviewed or edited in any way by sponsors.

19 July 2014

Tooth Time Update!

Today was the day I've been waiting on for months. All these awful teeth would go away and give me a chance at functioning like a normal person. That's not exactly how things went down. The best laid plans and all that.

Upon arrive at the dental office my blood pressure decided to go nuts and was 170/104 when they checked it. So, they laid me back and told me to relax. I grabbed my cell, sent a few texts requesting prayer, then turned on the Calm Down Spotify playlist, chilled and breathed. It fell to 156/96, a level they found acceptable. I was then told they would only being doing half my mouth today and he let me decide. I went with the left. For all those who wondered, no there wasn't even gas. I stared up at this guy all wide eyed and freaked, tears streaming down my face. Yes, I was numbed but all the tugging, pressure, and noise was stressful. The last upper tooth came out and revealed a sizable hoke to my sinus cavity. That was it for the day. A plug was sewn in, I got antibiotics, pain meds, nasal spray, sinus meds. Add to that a referral to the medical clinic for a blood pressure check, anxiety meds, and a few more tests. The worst part? I can't go back until September.

They did take out 6. It took forever for the bleeding to stop. The swelling is driving me batty and the pain is not so great right now. I am trying very hard to stay positive. It may take longer, but we are headed in the right direction. Plus, if my blood pressure is that bad, it is so good to know. Baby steps it is. Regardless, I feel incredibly blessed.

To all of you who have prayed, donated, and just been incredible blessings in my life through this somewhat scary journey, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I'll continue to keep y'all posted.

01 July 2014

Dave Says

English: Dave Navarro, Jane's Addiction, Ninja...
English: Dave Navarro, Jane's Addiction, Ninja tour. image shot by Fiona Bowie at Santa Barbara, California (thumbnail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anyone who knows me very well knows I have quite a fondness for Dave Navarro. It's bizarre really because normally looks wise this would not be the kind of guy I would call my type, but I adore him. It's not a looks thing, it's a talent thing. His voice too. I could listen to the man read the phone book. I got on the Dave train a little late; I had never even heard of him until that INXS reality show he cohosted. Yes, I know who RHCP are, but I didn't make the connection. Anyway, he was on the show and he spoke and played and looked amazing with all that ink. Even though he wore guy-liner, I was a fan pretty quickly.

This is not a post about my love for Dave Navarro, I promise.

Anyway, I've been dealing with some stuff lately. Stressors if you will. As many of you know, my teeth have been making me really sick and that's not helping the situation at all. A few weeks back I had an all out meltdown, questioning my faith and who I was. It wasn't pretty. What brought it on? Words. Those little puppies have power. Especially when you are a people pleaser like I am, anyone thinking badly of you can stress you beyond belief. The thing is, why? Why do I get like that? It's been eating me up for weeks and came to a pretty ugly head for me last night when I realized how ridiculous my weeks of being so upset over the whole thing were. So stressed that it was taking a physical toll over what someone thought of me. Just typing that makes me realize how nuts it sounds. Hello approval addiction. Anyway, I spent a good deal of my day questioning why my little brain in cahoots with my heart tends to agonize over this stuff and why I can't give my worries over and just let go, stuff like that. Being afraid of people not liking you is stupid, this was my mantra for the day.

Then tonight Dave came up in conversation, as happens a lot with my friends and I. We were watching videos of Heart and Dave Navarro together, seriously go check that awesomeness out, and I found this interview. Now, like any good fangirl, I know a LOT about Dave. I knew all the facts in the video. But, I found this interview, full of the slap upside the head and perspective I so desperately needed, exactly when I needed it most. The powers that be are kind of awesome like that. The fact that the message I needed to hear came from Dave Navarro is so ironic it would take me hours to explain it. Anyhow, this is Dave talking about overcoming fear. What I got was a hefty dose of perspective on things that are TRULY worth stressing over and no matter how great or small the fear... well we just have to say what's the worst that can happen and keep living.

As for me and my ridiculous stress and worry over people who aren't even important?

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

I may have to remind mysself of that a lot, take a lot of deep breaths, sing Let It Go, and vent time and again, but I will be proactive. I refuse to give anyone that kind of power over me anymore.

Thanks, Dave. XOXO

20 June 2014

Did they really think that was Harry?

English: Prince Harry at a 2009 charity match ...
English: Prince Harry at a 2009 charity match at , London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I consider reality television almost a guilty pleasure. Some I love, love I hate. Some of the families on these shows I adore, others I want to hit the mute button on. I mean really, don't some reality TV stars leave you with your mouth hanging open a little? Snooki anyone? I never even watched that show, but know who she is and that's not a good thing in this case. There's the good, bad, and ugly in this genre, just like with anything else.

One new show has me doing the mouth hanging open thing. I Wanna Marry Harry. This show has 12 beautiful American women travel to the UK to compete for the attention of a Prince Harry look alike. Thus far the dude hasn't said he's Harry, but the show has gone to great lengths to make it seem like he just could be the handsome royal. I have been watching the show on Hulu, which I guess is good because Fox axed the show from their line up. Apparently the ratings were awful. My guess as to why is the same reason I'm writing this post; what are these women thinking? Some of them are highly educated. I don't have a master's degree, but does it really take a genius to realize the royal family is not going to let a potential heir to the throne use a reality television show as a potential dating pool? To be fair, not all the women believed he was the prince, but some did. Some REALLY did. The guy, Matt Hicks, is a cutie and a seems like he'd be a catch even though he's not a royal. It seems one lady thought so, as she walked away with him instead of slapping him across the face. Will they be the new Trista and Ryan? I guess we will see.

What are your thoughts? Am I the only one who questions how these women actually believed this?

20 May 2014

Banana Orange Bread recipe

There were overripe bananas on the counter. That's what started it. Not wanting them to go to waste I thought something should be done with them, but didn't want the go-to banana bread. To Pinterest I went. I love that place, seriously. I can sit down and lose hours. I'm not sure if that's good, but it brings on so many "why didn't I think of that" moments. Anyhow, I found this awesome recipe for Red Velvet Banana Bread. I love all things red velvet, but this idea got the mental wheels turning. So, I took that yummy sounding recipe and gave it my own spin.

1 orange cake mix, just the mix, ignore the directions
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
3 bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep a loaf pan. I used a 9x5x3 like the original recipe called for then prepped it with Baker's Joy spray. I like easy. Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan and cook 45 to 55 minutes, or as in my case, until a good result with the toothpick test. That's all there is to it!

Simple, right? It's so good. Especially warm with butter. I imagine whipped cream cheese on this toasted would be to die for. I also think the same concept would be great with caramel, pineapple, chocolate cake mixes... use your imagination!

15 May 2014

The Ragnarok Prophesies Blog Tour

I recently had the opportunity to read both Fade and Fall, books 1 and 2 of the Ragnarok Prophesies, by A.K. Morgen. These are YA novels that I intended to let Little Miss read to give me review input, but I devoured them on my own first. I am glad I did.

Fade grabbed me first with it's breathtaking cover. One look and I wanted to know what was up. Arionna Jacobs is a teen on the cusp of adulthood, college bound and ready to take life by the horns. Her mother's tragic death changes everything, forcing Arionna down a different path. That path crashes her into Dace Matthews, making an ancient Norse prophecy reality. It's a story of heartache, fantasy, mythology, trust, love, and self discovery. Arionna felt real to me; the author did a superb job of conveying the characters' emotions in a way that they leap from the page. A strong heroine, Arionna was clever and handled the craziness in her life better than many adults probably would. Dace is a shape-shifter, he shifts into a wolf. As a result, he is complicated and comes off as jerk at times because of the primal nature of his wolf. Both grab you and take you along with them through a book that was never quite like I thought it was. Each time I thought I had it figured out, I found I was wrong, yet thrilled that was the case. I thoroughly enjoy books like that.

Fall dives right in where Fade ended. Not only do we see more of Ari and Dace, but other characters are better developed to the point you feel you are reading about your friends. Ronan I absolutely love, something about him enchants me. A story of courage, sacrifice, and love, the plot unfolds in such a way that you are flipping pages like mad, needing to see what happens next. All I can say about the ending is I need book three NOW!

I have been pretty vague in my descriptions here because I keep wanting to include spoilers. Since reading them drives me nuts, I refuse to do that to y'all. The stories are great reads. They combine Norse  mythology, adventure, paranormal elements, and romance in such a way that the story is compelling. I will say both books started out a little slow, but eventually grabbed me and sucked me in. There is an insta-love aspect to the story, BUT as the plot unfolds it makes sense. Don't judge it by that and think it's just another YA supernatural romance. A.K. Morgen delivers much more than that in these gems. I recommend both Fade and Fall to any YA lover.

Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One: Amazon | BN | Kobo
Fall - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book Two: Amazon | BN | Kobo
Learn more about A.K.Morgen at akmorgen.com

Ramblings of a Texas Housewife Product Review and/or Giveaway Disclosure- I have received no compensation other than the offer of free product to review and/or giveaway. Any opinions expressed on Ramblings of a Texas Housewife are my own. My reviews are never reviewed or edited in any way by sponsors.

06 May 2014

I got sunshine in a bag...

Actually, I sent sunshine in a bag. It's not a lot, but I put together a little something to send to a friend to let her know she was in my thoughts. Since the idea is sunshine to brighten a day up, I used yellow, orange, gold... you get the idea.

This bag was made up of:
  • A small gold, glittery make up bag
  • lemonade packets to add to bottled water
  • lemon ginger tea bags
  • small Slim Jim
  • handful of butterscotch candies
  • package of Juicy Fruit gum
  • snack size Butterfinger candy bar
  • Mallo Cup
  • yellow highlighter
  • there was also a sunshine shaped note I forgot to get a pic of
It's not a lot, but enough to lift someone's spirits. The whole thing weighed in under 13 ounces, so you could put stamps on it and toss it in the mailbox to mail without a trip to the post office. I'm thinking this cost about $3 to send. 

I love getting "happy mail", but have discovered I love sending it even more! You never know when a small gesture will completely turn a day around for someone. There's nothing like spreading a little sunshine!