Book Review: Skinniness is Next to Goddessness

Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Anna's Story (Skinniness is Next to Goddessness?, #2)Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Anna’s Story by Julia Keanini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I give this book a 4.5 star rating. I really liked it. It’s the second in a series but seemed like a stand alone book. I didn’t feel like I had missed anything.

From the titles of the books, I gather that the books encompass the stories of the girls in the Sunday Lunchers eating disorder group. Other than the title though, the eating disorder was sort of a small side issue in Anna’s story.

The story, however, was really good. Anna, a 16 year old girl of Japanese descent, is derailed from “The Plan” that has been a part of her life since third grade. The plan would get her through an Ivy League college education to become a heart surgeon at a great hospital.

With the arrival of little AB, all of a sudden, the plan takes a back seat. AB is the baby daughter of her cousin, Aya. She helps Rhys, the baby’s father, to care for her and develops a huge crush on him. Through the course of the story, Aya tries to sell the baby to make good on a drug/gambling debt and much of the book is about this.

At the end of the trial, and the book, Rhys takes AB and moves to Colorado and Anna is free to be a 16 year old with a plan again. After what her family has gone through, her new plan is a more revised version of the previous plan which will allow her to have a more complete life.

There are family dynamics issues that contribute to Anna’s bulimia and those seem to resolve themselves as well, leaving her to feel free of the bulimia.

I liked this book. It was well written and I’d like to check out book one and any sequels. :-)

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Book Review: Being Layla Hart

nullBeing Layla HartBeing Layla Hart by Amanda McKelt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a cute book!

April and her friend, Sofia, are not among the popular kids at their school. They make plans for April to say hi to a boy she has a crush on, going to the pool where his water polo team is finishing up a match. As she goes to try and talk to him, his girlfriend and her BFF come up from behind and push her into the pool while video taping the event. As she falls into the pool, all she can think about is the fact that she’s wearing My Little Pony Pinkie panties and she just flashed Zach and everyone else, on video.

When the girls get home, April decides she can never go out of her room again. She deletes all of her social profiles because she can’t bear the thought of all the feedback she’ll get from the Pinkie Pants video.

She and Sofia make up a fake profile, Layla Hart, and decide that April should pretend to be Layla. Somehow when they wake up int he morning, April IS Layla. A quickly devised story of exchange students explains to Aprils mom what happened to April and how Layla came to be living in her house. It also gets her enrolled in school as Layla Hart.

The book travels along the path of April as Layla where all of a sudden it seems like she’s getting everything she wants: a beautiful face, a nice body, popular friends and a boyfriend.

In the end, though, she almost loses her best friend and decides all she really wants is to be herself. This is a really cute book and I highly recommend it! :-)

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Book Review: Circling the Sun

Circling the SunCircling the Sun by Paula McLain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book! What a great story about Beryl Markham, a horse trainer and aviator. I wasn’t aware of Beryl Markham before reading this book but in the author’s note at the end, she says that Markham wrote her own book which I’d like to read.

Beryl was raised in Africa by her father after her mother left, taking her brother, when she was 4. Her father was a horse trainer and she grew up learning everything at his side. She was friends with the local African children, her best friend being Kibii.

The story takes us through Beryl’s life which wasn’t an easy one. She married at 16 after learning that her father was losing his farm and horses and taking a jo elsewhere. She felt it was the right thing to do but she didn’t know her husband at all and it was a very difficult relationship which she eventually fled taking almost nothing with her but her horse.

She went to a family friend and learned how to be a horse trainer under his tutelage and was the first woman ever to hold a license to train horses.

Beryl eventually marries again but it also ends on a sour note after her baby. Gervase, is born with defects. Her husband and the babe stay behind in London while she eventually goes back.

Throughout her life, there is Denys who she comes together with periodically until his death.

Eventually, Beryl learns to fly and becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West.

This is a wonderful story that will suck you right in. I didn’t want it to be over and I highly recommend it! :D

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Book Review: I Am the Traitor

I Am the Traitor (The Unknown Assassin, #3)I Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book in The Unknown Assassin trilogy and I ate it up like a bag of chips. I love the way this author writes! So readable.

Zach is back waiting for a new mission. He finds his friend, Howard, from Book 2 is being held by the Program. He finds where he is, because Mike wants him to prove his loyalty by the Program by killing Howard. When he gets there and sees Howard, he realizes he can’t kill him. There’s also a girl, Tanya. Zach decides to break both of them out and make a run for it.

They come against all kinds of trouble with Mike hot on their trail. Tanya turns out to be an assassin for the Program and Zach isn’t sure whether he can trust her or not.

The story wraps up nicely although I will miss reading another installment. I highly recommend this, and the two books that come before it. Highly recommend!

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A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

So I guess I did the A to Z Challenge wrong.

I mean, I got the A to Z stuff down. I even used a real word for X. But I didn’t understand how anyone was supposed to see my post or I was supposed to be next in line? I tweeted my posts twice a day; once using the #atozchallenge hashtag and once using the @AprilA2Z handle but never was retweeted so I was stumped.

Until this morning when I opened up the reflections post and actually clicked through to the blog and saw the Linky tool. Doh!

I actually did have two people from the challenge post comments on my blog. One that I already knew and one that I didn’t. I can’t imagine how she found me since I was doing it wrong. ;-) But I’m glad she did.

Oh well. I was happy just to be writing something again. I didn’t miss a day and on one day I had two posts and I posted on a Sunday as well since I had books to review.  

I will add this post on the Linky tool. Do it right, just once. Next year it’ll be better. :D

Z is for Za’atar

I learned about, and fell in love with, Za’atar when we lived in Saudi Arabia back in the early 90s.I first had it as Za’atar Bread.

Doesn’t that look amazing? It is.

So what is za’atar? It’s a  is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. To make the bread, it’s mixed with olive oil and spread on the bread. 

A couple of years ago, I also found that you can get a za’atar bagle at Bagle Country in Skokie, IL which is now, according to Yelp, closed. :-( ::sobs::

I recently found za’atar bread here in San Jose. I stumbled upon the Sultan Bakery one day, which I will review one day soon. I entered the bakery and was met with all of the wonderful bakery items I experienced while living in Saudi and Bahrain. In an effort to maintain some composure (and respect to my pre-pageant diet) I decided that I’d just get one piece of za’atar bread. 

I hadn’t had za’atar in a long time. It’s like I forget it’s in my cabinet and then I get a craving for it and pull it out. I need to stop forgetting about it. When I pulled it out the other day, I decided to look at the lable and noticed that it’s seriously expired. Oops! ;-)


Now I really want to taste some za’atar and I planned to find an international grocery store today but David took my gps yesterday and I have no idea how to get there so I’ll have to save it for another day. But I will get it soon!

I think that it might add a nice flavor to the base of an Israeli Salad. And I’m going to try it. Just as soon as I get some fresh za’atar.

So this is what I’m craving on this last day of the A to Z blogging challenge. How great that it begins with Z! :D

Y is for Yelp

I love Yelp I’ve been yelping since September of 2011. My first review was for Sara, the gal in Bartlesville who did my facials and pedicures. After that, was John the Locksmith who saved my life by getting me in when I got locked out and getting me out when I got locked in. LOL!


And I was off and running. If you know me, you’ll know I’m pretty positive and I love, love, love to give five star reviews. I think a lot of people will only comment when they are upset about something so I like to point out the good. 

Not that I won’t give a bad review. I will. I noticed as I was going through my reviews before writing this blog that two of the really awful hotels we’ve stayed at are now closed.


Also, the 18 Wheeler Diner is closed. ::sobs::

But over the years, I’ve come to find Yelp to be an invaluable tool. Traveling as much as we do, I use it to find restaurants and attractions. I even used it in Warsaw, Poland recently and left reviews. :-) Since we recently moved, I use it all the time to find just about anything I want or need.

Do you know you can type “Baba Ghanouj” or “pageant earrings” into Yelp and it will bring you to the nearest place to find them? Awesome. 

Every once in a while I hear back from a business owner and I love that. I’ve noticed that more businesses have Yelp signs in their windows so clearly they are seeing that Yelp is something that a lot of people are using. 


If you’re not using Yelp, yet, give it a shot. It’s really helpful! :D

X is for Xanadu

Xanadu. Cheesy 70s movie involving Olivia Newton John and roller skates…

…or color you’ve never heard of?

On twitter the other morning, my friend Corina tweeted an article about 11 colors you’ve probably never heard of. I love color so I was interested to read the article. 

Not only hadn’t I heard most of the color names, I wasn’t completely sure how to pronounce them with the exception of Xanadu, Amaranth, and Mikado, all words I’d heard before in reference to other things. The names just didn’t trip off my tongue but it was an interesting read. with Xanadu being the only color name I remembered after reading the article. Probably because it connected with the cheese 70′s Olivia Newton John movie.

When I was looking for this article, I came across several others of the same type. 19 colors, 8, colors, etc. In looking at them, I noticed that there truly were some colors I hadn’t ever heard of but a few that I had and that the lists didn’t contain all of the same colors, in fact they didn’t overlap much at all.

So that was a fun thing to check out. And the answer to the above question? Cheesy 70s movie or color you’ve never heard of? The answer is both. :D

W is for Wrists

I’m really mad at my wrists. It’s not even their fault but, nonetheless, I’m mad at them anyway. You see, it’s my wrists that are keeping me from riding my bike and forcing me to get my miles in on the Lifecycle in the gym.


I’m really grateful to have the Lifecyle, though. This way, I won’t lose any of my cycling gains. But the experience in the gym is nothing like the experience of riding on the trail. 

I miss the freedom of being on the trail. I miss the wind in my face and saying hi to the planes as I pass the airport. I even miss saying hi to the other runners/walkers/cyclists on the trail and them looking through me as if I’m not there or ignoring me altogether. 

Once my rides went over an hour, it felt like my hands were starting to fall asleep. A quick search of the internet told me that I was experiencing Handlebar Palsy. Nice. 

This overuse injury comes from compressing the ulnar nerve with the handlebars. So after reading this, I started to remember my gloves, which gives me extra padding. I also started making sure that changed my grip position frequently. I thought it was working and didn’t seem to have tingly fingers until last Friday. And then it was one step past just tingly fingers on my left hand.

I could barely grip anything. I couldn’t write with a pen (I’m left handed) and I had a hard time doing much of anything with that hand. Well, this woke me right up. I need my left hand! 

Over the course of the day, it worked itself out but it was scary enough to me that I’ve decided to forgo my real bike in favor of the Lifecyle until I can get a new bike. Or get this one fitted to me so it doesn’t cause this problem. It’s possible the handlebars are too low for me. I’ve wondered if the bike is tall enough. 

So I’ll be visiting the bike shop here very soon and getting fit for a bike that will ft me right. Because I sincerely love cycling. It’s the best! :-)

Book Review: Dollar Daze

Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love (Bottom Dollar Girls #3)Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love by Karin Gillespie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. It’s the third in a series but I didn’t feel like I’d been left out by not reading the books that came before which of course I must now read.

This book is about the Bottom Dollar Girls, a group of older ladies who have been friends for a long time (two of them for most of their lives!) and the granddaughter of one of the ladies.

The older ladies all seem to be looking for love in this book except for Mrs. Tobias who seems to feel she’s done all the marrying she needs to with her first marriage. But, in the end, love finds her anyway. I love the friendships, I love the character of Attalee who brings so much of the humor to the book and I love that Mrs. Tobias loosened up enough by the end of the book that they were calling her Gracie.

Elizabeth, the granddaughter, is frustrated at being a stay at home mom but her husband is not in favor of her going back to work while their daughter, Glenda, is still so young. She comes up with a great idea that both satisfies her and makes her husband happy.

I really liked this book a lot and hope there’s another in the series. I highly recommend this book! :-)

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