August 27, 2014

i'm not a crazy cat lady, i promise!

The other night, I sat on the couch watching a movie. (Battleship. Don't waste your time. I gave up after about 40 excruciating minutes. I did enjoy the beginning, however, as Taylor Kitsch basically played an adult version of Tim Riggins, and I do love me some Riggins!) As I sat there, Isis jumped up onto my lap and began grooming herself, Skarra fell asleep on my feet, and Hammond ... well ... walked across my chest multiple times while whipping his tail in my face. I looked down at my crew and suddenly was struck with the realization that God sent my cats to me at the perfect time. Let me explain.

I adopted Isis, Skaara, and Hammond in July of 2012. In September of that year, I started feeling "not right," and by October, I was feeling pretty awful. Nearly two years later, I know what's wrong with me (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), and I feel like I'm finally clawing my way back to a near normal state—or at least a livable new normal. But these last two years have been the most stressful and difficult of my entire life.

At this point in my life, I'm single and childless. It's not the life I ever imagined for myself, but it's not a bad life, either. However, living alone makes it very easy to develop a selfish, woe-is-me attitude when I feel sick. Crazy as it may sound, having my cats to care for has made me less apt to focus on myself ... and I am absolutely positive that having cats has made me a happier person! (I'm pretty sure there are studies on how pets make you happier ... but I'm too lazy to search one out right now.)

So here's why I think God brought my babies* into my life at the perfect time. When I got them, they had to live outside per my lease, and three outdoor cats who roamed the neighborhood didn't seem at all excessive. Had I waited to get a cat until I bought my house, I probably would only have gotten one. Maybe two. No way on this earth would I have signed up for three house cats, and I certainly wouldn't have these three cats. They each bring their own unique personality (felineality?) to the mix, and I can't imagine our "family" without any of them. I love Isis' sassiness, her obsession with water, and her "this is not a cat person so I must make him love me" radar. I love that macho Skaara has to have a hug every morning while I'm getting ready for work. And I love Hammond's cuddly nature. (Could I tell you things I dislike about each of them? Sure. But that's not the point.)

Basically, what it boils down to is this: These last two years have been hard. At times, they seemed unbearable. My family and my friends have helped carry me through, and I am so grateful for them. I'm grateful for a God who knows me and understands what I'm going through, even when I don't understand it myself. And I'm also grateful for my cats, who bring me joy and keep me sane!

*Yes, I call them my babies, but I fully realize they're my cat babies, not human babies, and I AM NOT THEIR MOTHER. It's more like I'm the best friend that they worship. And they do adore me—they're not typical cats in that way. (Well, Isis' love is on her terms, but Hammond and Skaara straight up worship me.)

August 26, 2014

top ten tuesday: books i want to read but don't own yet

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke & The Bookish, is a fun one: Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet. I couldn't come up with ten when I didn't include books that I haven't released yet, so here are my top four plus a bonus "wishful thinking" pick.

A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

I've heard so many great things about this book, and it's in my Amazon wish list, but let's be real—I have so many review books on my shelf, and then another shelf full of books I want to read if I have time, that I doubt I'll be getting this one any time soon.

Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert

I read and loved Ganshert's Wildflowers from Winter last year. I had every intention of reading the sequel as soon as it released, but life got in the way, and I just haven't gotten around to buying it. I will, though—of that I have no doubt!

Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt

I read Vogt's Wish You Were Here and Catch a Falling Star and loved both of them. So I'm sure I'll get to this one at some point!

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

I passed on this one when the review invite came along, as I knew I was going to have a very busy summer. Every time I see a recommendation (and it's often), I regret that decision. I'll be getting this soon.

Bonus Pick:

The next Raleigh Harmon mystery (sequel to The Stars Shine Bright) by Sibella Giorello

I feel like I've been waiting forever for the next Raleigh Harmon mystery. In reality, it's only been two years. I've heard there's a sequel in the works, and I sincerely hope that's true—I really need a Raleigh-Jack kiss!

What do you think? Should I run out and buy any of these right now? What books would be on your list? Let me know in the comments, and then stop by the original post and check out other bloggers' picks!

August 13, 2014

top ten tuesday: books i'm not sure i want to read

Obviously, I missed the "Tuesday" part of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke & The Bookish—I worked about 12 hours on Tuesday because it was our back-to-school night at the school I work at. But I knew I still wanted to participate in this week's topic, so here's my Top Ten Tuesday ... on Wednesday.

This week's topic is Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read (books you may have bought but aren't sure if you are into it anymore, books you wanted to read but heard mixed things about, hyped books you aren't sure about—basically any book that has you going, "TO READ OR NOT TO READ?").

I decided to go with books that I already own but haven't read yet ... and might not ever. I own way more than 10 books that I haven't read, but these were the first to come to mind.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I bought Divergent about two years ago—after I heard there would be a film version. I loved The Hunger Games trilogy, and people kept saying that if you loved The Hunger Games, then you'd love Divergent. I didn't read it right away, but I always intended to read it before watching the film. Then my sister told me that she couldn't stand Tris in the book, and she thought it was kind of dumb. Now that I've seen (and loved!) the film, I don't see any reason to go back and read the book. The jury's still out on whether I'll read Insurgent and Allegiant before those films release.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Honestly, I'm not sure why I own this book. I bought it on a whim, but I don't really want to read it. I haven't seen the movie, either, and I'm not sure I want to. Hearing that my one sister sobbed her way through the book and the non-crying sister teared up at the movie makes me think I'd be an utter mess. I like happy things, you know?

Matched, Crossed, and Reached by Ally Condie
After I powered through the whole Hunger Games trilogy in like four days, I was looking for something similar to read. I saw an ad for Matched in Entertainment Weekly and bought it immediately. And then it sat on my shelf ... and it's still sitting there. It's been read, but not by me. My coworker's daughter borrowed the series (yes, I bought the other two books as they released, even though I hadn't yet read Matched), and her apathy toward them after she finished them made me even less inclined to read them.

Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury 
This novel wraps up the Baxter series, most of which I adored ... and I might not ever read it. 1. I've heard it's sad. 2. I'm still mad about Bailey/Brandon/Cody in the Bailey Flanigan series.

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas 
I've heard fabulous things about this biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I bought it on sale, and I felt very intellectual when I did. Chances are, I'll never read even one page.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I bought Crime and Punishment for a world lit class in college. Then it turned out that the non-western lit class I took at community college transferred in as world lit, and I was able to drop the class. I kept the book—because, you know, it makes me look cultured and stuff. I'm not really a classic lit kind of girl, though, so I doubt I'll ever read it.

Naked Heat and Heat Rises by Richard Castle
I'm a huge fan of the TV crime dramedy Castle, so when I heard the Nikki Heat books that factor into the plot would really exist, I was on board. I bought and read Heat Rises, and while I enjoyed it, crime novels aren't really my thing ... which is why the next two books in the series, though purchased, have gone unread. I do think if I ever opened them, I'd enjoy them. We'll see!

There's my list. Do you agree? Disagree? Want to talk me into reading one or more of the above? Let me know in the comments! And if you've made your own list, be sure to link up here.

August 5, 2014

top ten tuesday: books i'd give to readers who have never read christian ya fiction

It's another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of The Broke & The Bookish! Last week was my first time to participate, and I had so much fun that I decided to do it again. (See last week's here.) This week's topic is Top Ten Books I'd Give To Readers Who Have Never Read __________. I decided to fill in the blank with Christian YA Fiction.

Young Adult (YA) fiction is all the rage with The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, and The Fault in Our Stars all topping bestseller lists and spawning successful movies. But what about Christian YA? I work at a Christian school, and while I've often seen students (mainly girls) grasping the aforementioned books in the hallway, very rarely do I see a student with a Christian YA novel. I have nothing against the novels I mentioned (save Twilight. I hate Twilight.), but I wish the girls at my school would give some Christian YA a chance. Here are the books that I'd recommend:

Anomaly, Luminary, and Revolutionary by Krista McGee
Fans of The Hunger Games will love this trilogy, which takes place decades following a nuclear war in what used to be the United States. The plot twists and turns its way through one adventure after another, and Thalli is a heroine readers will cheer for. I also love the focus on the Designer, who Thalli first learns of while she's waiting to die. Sometimes, the faith element in Christian novels can seem forced, but here it perfectly weaves into the plot. I can't recommend these books highly enough! (See my reviews: Anomaly, Luminary, and Revolutionary.)

Angel Eyes, Broken Wings, and Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore
When I read Angel Eyes, I called it a cross between Twilight and Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness. This series expertly combines teen romance and the supernatural to create a thoroughly captivating Young Adult series. I've recommended this series to numerous girls at my school who are Twilight fans. (See my reviews: Angel Eyes, Broken Wings, Dark Halo.)

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
The only novel on this list that doesn't involve sci-fi, the supernatural, or anything else "weird," There You'll Find Me is a love story firmly grounded in reality. While the book is about finding yourself, finding love, and finding God, it also deals with bullying and eating disorders. It's a fantastic book for girls who are looking for a serious, romantic read. Plus, there's that cover. Isn't it spectacular? (See my review. Also check out Jones' Save the Date—it's not YA, but it's so, so good!) 

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
I suppose this is somewhat of a cheat, as I haven't exactly finished reading Waterfall yet. I actually started reading it last week, and then I had to put it down to read some books that I need to review soon. But so far, I'm loving this time travel novel, and I know Bergren's books are always excellent, so I guess I can recommend it without having finished it :-)

Crazy Dangerous and Nightmare City by Andrew Klavan
So far, all of these have been books geared more toward girls. (Not that boys couldn't or wouldn't read them, but they seem more female oriented.) Teen boys—and some girls—will love these books by Andrew Klavan. Both feature male protagonists, and they are thrill rides from beginning to end. I loved them! (See my reviews: Crazy Dangerous, Nightmare City.)

Now it's your turn! Do you have any books to add to my list? What 10 books would you recommend to readers haven't tried _____? Tell me in the comments, or publish your own list and link up here.

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