The first book in this series (THE LILAC PLAGUE) is a true heroine’s journey with determination and pluck in spades. The second book, THE ROSE COURT, ups the ante tenfold. This high fantasy has everything you want in a book that you can’t put down. Just like Nicoleta, I was trying to figure out who to trust and how to navigate the Rose Court. Every time I thought I had something or someone figured out, the story went off in unexpected and surprising directions. The magical elements were used in fantastic ways, but the real story was in the strong heroine, the well drawn characters, and their relationships. And, now I can’t wait for the third book! I can’t imagine what’s in store next.
by Jess Ekstrom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you could change the voice in your head to a different voice like you do on an app on your phone, I would highly suggest changing it to Jess Ekstorm’s voice. Her positivity is contagious and empowering. Chasing the Bright Side is, of course, about optimism, but not a put-on-the-rose-colored-glasses-and-everything-will-be-okay optimism. This is optimism in the face of struggle, disappointments, and naysayers. It’s about trying to figure out life/business/relationships as you go and choosing to move forward when things don’t go the way you anticipated. Jess’ book is the fan to the flame of the dream you didn’t think you should dare to dream. If you need some positivity in your life (and who doesn’t?), I highly recommend this book. In fact, get two copies so you can tear out all the inspiring quotes to wallpaper your house.
Oh, what a night!
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Magic City Bookstore, Tulsa’s newest independent bookstore (the only one if you don’t count used bookstores), we went to an author discussion with Megan Mullaly and Nick Offerman!
Their new book, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, came out recently and it’s a hoot! The night opened with the head of the Tulsa Literary Coalition introducing them and he actually said, “You may not think of Megan and Nick as literary, but we think you’ll have fun.” Well, Megan just ran away with that comment and it became a running joke throughout the evening, how they weren’t “literary.” (They are actually quite literary and literate.) So, that was pretty funny.
At one point, Megan spotted a guy in the crowd wearing a violet suit. Seriously, violet. It. Was. Bright. She convinced him to let Nick wear his jacket for the duration of the show. Nick put it on without even blinking an eye. (And then later went through the pockets!)
Their book is a fun read and different than most memoirs. Most of it’s written in transcript form with essays and pictures sprinkled throughout. Nick explained that when they started the book, they picked topics and then hit record and talked about their thoughts on each topic. From there, the plan was to get transcripts of their conversations and then build each chapter from there. When they got the transcripts back, they realized the transcripts perfectly showed their chemistry and style. There was no reason to change it. I would have to agree.
Then they read the introduction to us and nailed it. So fun and so funny!
- “Momma shoots. Momma scores.” (Nick kept saying this and it was driving Megan up a wall. LOL)
- Megan is uber talented. She designed the whole book and staged the pictures throughout.
- Tulsa kicks ass. (Nick said so.)
- They sang “Oklahoma” for us!
- A mention of Parks and Rec got the biggest cheer.
- They brought their dog Clover who is adorable.
- Wear the purple jacket.
- There is way more than I can list here…
I took Ethan with me and his review was, “They’re real people. We need more people like them in the world.”
I can’t think of a better compliment.
Well, it’s the end of the day again. (Are you noticing a theme?) I started one post earlier, but it’s definitely I want to spend more time on. I did read two interesting (and short) articles today that can have a positive impact on we communicate with other people. Check ’em out:
Some of these I already do, or attempt to do. I try hard to ask interesting questions that pertain specifically to the person I’m speaking to, but these quick tips are great reminders.
Well, I missed another day. The only thing I can say I definitely need downtime. Yesterday was one of those days. After a flurry of activity Thursday and Friday, I guess my body was ready for a break. The college kid heightens the energy in the house. I use to love hearing my kids laugh when they were little, but I love it just as much now. There’s a certain vibe when we’re all together. All the inside jokes come out and more are created as we build on the latest goof someone said (or nowadays, the latest meme someone posted). I love the banter I have with my boys.
My college kid told me once that it was difficult to find a girlfriend because of our family. Because in the matter of one evening (or hour) we can go from talking about quantum physics and the rules of time travel to who should be cast in the next season of Bachelor in Paradise. He said it’s hard to find someone who can keep up with that swing of conversation (I’m sure he’s referring to the quantum physics part…) and join in.
It is good to hear that conversation is near the top of his list. (I’m sure there are other attributes at the top…) It’s certainly one of the things I’ve tried to instill in him. Relationships change over time and you need to have someone by your side that you can have an honest-to-goodness good conversation with whether you’re cuddling on the couch in your pjs, waiting in the myriad of waiting rooms we wait in during our lifetime, or sitting on beach relaxing in the sun. You need to have someone by your side you enjoy talking to.
For most of our marriage, either my husband or I have worked a nontraditional schedule. There was a blissful 5-year period where he worked a 9-5 job and I stayed at home that we celebrated holidays on the actual holiday like normal people. But, for the most part, we fit the holiday gatherings and meals around whatever wacky schedule we’re working with that year. This is just fine with me, but I firmly believe the holidays are about the people you spend them with, not the date on the calendar.
This started the first year of our marriage when I worked at Disneyland. My family and my husband came to the Park and we had Thanksgiving lunch at Rancho del Zocalo. (I still refer to it as Casa de Frito from when Frito-Lay sponsored it when I was a kid.) Nontraditional for sure, but we were happy to be together celebrating a new job for me and a new life with my hubby.
So, today is our Thanksgiving day. My husband worked yesterday, so today’s the day. Or really, tonight’s the day, because my son has football practice this afternoon (No rest if you want to win a state championship!) and both boys are going to the church’s Turkey Bowl. So, while I imagine most “normal” people had their Thanksgiving meal yesterday afternoon, we’ll be lucky to get it on the table by 8pm tonight.
That’s okay. It’s my favorite meal of the year—no matter what time we eat it.
The holidays always put in a weird frame of mind. On the one hand, I miss my family and the big families gatherings. I don’t miss driving is California holiday traffic, where the traffic is actually worse on the holiday. On the other hand, I kinda like it when it’s just the four of us and a little quieter, but then I miss having people over. Somehow, having people over makes it seem like a holiday. Usually we have a Friendsgiving with my best friends and their families, but everyone was traveling this year, so we’re back to just us. Which, like I said, is okay too.
So, wherever you may be and whoever you may be with, I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving too.
It’s Thanksgiving Day! Like many past years, we’ll wait to have our big meal when everyone can be here, so it was a pretty quiet day today. Here’s what I’m thankful this year:
My family, near and far—especially when the far ones come near when I need them
My kid being in college
My kid coming home from college
My kid being on the football team (and winning!)
My health and the health of my family
Friends who are willing to help
A roof over my head
Both my husband and I having jobs to pay for the roof over our heads
Most of all I’m thankful for the love of family and friends. I know I am blessed to be born into the family I was born into, to live where I live, and to be with the people I love.
I am one of the lucky ones.
So, I just picked my son up from the movies. He saw “Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: How was the movie?
Him: That stupid movie.
Me: Oh, was it that bad?
Him: No, it was such a good movie! So good, but they got everyone together and said “Let’s do this!” and then the movie ended. Right. There.
This is seriously one of my biggest pet peeves.
I vividly remember watching the first Lord of the Rings movie. My husband had read the books and was so excited to see it. Our boys were young and I remember sitting on the couch to introduce my kids to this world my husband adores. We spent three hours watching this movie. We were introduced to Middle Earth. We followed Frodo as he tried to find people to help with him return the ring from whence it came. He got his whole team together. The end. The movie ended. Nothing else happened. Three hours to get everyone to agree to work together and then nothing.
I was SO mad, when that movie was over. I literally looked at my husband and said, “That’s it?!?!”
I know there are people who love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but honestly, that one episode tainted my experience with all of other movies. I did watch the other three movies, but I think you could consider it hate-watching.
I have nothing against franchise movies and making lots of movies in the same world. It’s fun to visit a galaxy far, far away, a school for wizards, or a universe full of super heroes. Make as many movies as you want, just give me a full plot in each movie! Don’t get me involved in the first act of your story for two hours only to tell me I have to wait until the next movie comes in 2 or more years for the payoff of a good ending. It just makes me angry.
The Star Wars movies, Marvel movies, and even the original Harry Potter movies (minus the last two) have been pretty good about giving us a full story with a beginning, middle, and end, along with a overarching plot that’s threaded through all of the installments. If I’m going to drop a pile of money to take my family to the movies, give me a full movie experience I can enjoy.
And, if you’re not going to give me a complete story in the first or second movie in your trilogy, then call it what it is: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3. It’s not a movie, it’s a mini-series. At least then I can make an informed decision about how to spend my time and money.
AND, can we all agree to stop splitting books in half? Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, I’m looking at you. Let me tell you directors, producers, and screenwriters a little secret: The movie that comes from the first half of the last book in a series is always BORING. The first half is the means to the end. Tighten up the writing and get us to the end.
…Rant over. Please return to your regularly scheduled programming.
This week, I got back to yoga after a break for a medical leave. It feels good to get my body moving and stretching again. I am amazed at how sore I am after I felt like I had taken it “easy” on myself in class, but that’s okay. It’s proof of work and that I am indeed alive and moving!
I really enjoy yoga. I’ve taken a few classes before, but started attending in earnest this last May. While it’s not easy, I do feel like it’s a gentle way to get more fit, get the blood flowing, and calm my mind. I feel like my whole body has gotten a workout.
I like our class because it’s not about trying to be the best person who’s ever done yoga, it’s about doing what works best for your body. I have to say that really takes the pressure off. No pressure to be perfect. I like that, because I am far from perfect.
Also, there’s no slouching in class. There might be a pop quiz so you have to pay attention. 😉
Today, Brent asked us what we were going to do for ourselves between now and Christmas. After he established we couldn’t say “coming to yoga” (that was indeed my original answer!), I really had to think about it. Doing things for myself doesn’t really come into play during the holidays. So, it was nice be given permission to do a little something for myself over the next six weeks. I’m going to take more time to read. I’ve been reading more lately and it’s easy to forget how much I enjoy getting lost in a good book.
So, what are you going to to for yourself between now and Christmas?
So, yep, I missed a blogging day yesterday. And, you know what?
I needed a down day. A day where I didn’t have to do anything. A day off as it were.
As much I enjoy writing and getting to write about whatever is on my mind, just turning on the computer feels like work since that’s where I do all of my work. So, even logging on for pleasure has an odd “work” feeling to it.
I’m learning that it’s important to take breaks when my mind and body tell me they need a break. It’s important to say no when I know it’s unhealthy to say yes. This is a hard lesson to learn because it means possibly disappointing other people or just experiencing that terrible fear of missing out.
That’s probably my biggest lesson this year: Learning to listen and act on what my body needs—food, rest, exercise, calm.