23 June 2016

Thursday Threads: Heat of the Moment

Thunderstruck by thezorya featuring ross simons earrings

It's been hot, humid, and let's face it--downright sticky. 
This outfit was inspired by me trying to find something I could wear casually for a date.

The cotton shirt is a must in this heat. Anything silky is just out of the question for me right now so I'm sticking to light fabrics; this top looks sweet and cool--especially with the fringe! 

I think nude heels with jeans are a great look right now, but these wedges really caught my eye. They just shout out summer to me! 

Lastly, to "spruce up" the outfit a bit, I added a nice clutch and drop earrings. It's not over-the-top but it does the trick. 

What would be your ideal outfit to wear for a summer date night?

14 June 2016

Playlist: "Breathe Happy"

A Sunflower's Dream

How HOT has it been as of late? 
I can barely justify going outside right now because of the heat. So like the hermit I am, I've been doing nothing but watching movies, reading, and yes--turning up some tunes! (And the AC.)

So with that being said, let's just see what I've been listening to...

The Dø have come out with some great songs. And this is one of them! Olivia Merilahti's voice is just beautiful. Just beautiful. And while the song has a sense of gloominess to it, it is overshadowed by purity. 

This song, "Full Circle," by Half Moon Run is not new but certainly new to me. It's very indie-folk and honestly, reminds me of something Band of Horses would be singing; it's similar and that's not a bad thing by any means.

Okay, when you start listening to this one, you'll think...this sounds familiar. And you're right! It's a cover of Jennifer Paige's "Crush" from the '90s. But amped up. And I love it.

Even though the lyrics of this song clearly say, "I'm not gonna leave the best for last," I might just be doing so. This song makes me so happy; it's catchy and dreamy and if you don't want to get up and dance to it, then at least do like me--sway your head while you're lying in bed ha!

07 June 2016

Book Review: Fragments of Isabella by Isabella Leitner

fragments isabella holocaust jew

Goodreads description (x): 
On May 29, 1944, the day after Isabella Katz’s twenty-third birthday, she, her family, and all the Jews in the ghetto in Kisvárda, Hungary, were rounded up by Nazi storm troopers, packed into cattle cars, and deported to Auschwitz. There, Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death, scrutinized the family and decided who would live—for a time—and who would die. Isabella and three of her sisters waged a daily battle to survive, giving one another strength, courage, and love, promising themselves that they would cheat the crematoriums and end each day alive.

My rating: 4 out of 5 hoots

owl rating

I believe I've it said before on this blog, but to reiterate, I am and have always been interested in war. I don't think I'll truly be able to grasp the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust, but learning about it and educating others—especially through literature—can be a great thing. 

When I was asked if I would like to read Fragments of Isabella, I agreed. Auschwitz was one of the worst concentration camps of the Holocaust, so to be able to read a memoir from someone who was there would be, I knew, raw and emotional. 

It is a short read, with short chapters, and even for the most part, short and concise sentences. 
This makes for a one-day read that is overall, powerful and touching. 

Josef Mengele is mentioned a few times, and I was astonished that the author actually came into contact with him. Of course it wouldn't be impossible, I just haven't read a memoir yet where the author spoke about actually being in close proximity with Mengele. There was just such indifference towards him, which was odd considering how he was notorious for being truly awful—even nicknamed the “Angel of Death.” Leitner was one tough cookie. Irma Grese was also briefly talked about and how she would choose specific women to be punished, mainly based on how attractive they were to her. 

Because the chapters are so short, sometimes the book confused me as to where the characters were physically at, and the events take place so quickly that it's hard to wrap your head around what exactly is going on all the time. Most of the time you can regain your footing, brush yourself off, and realize what it is Leitner is describing. But a few times, you're still left lost. 

I admit, Isabella Leitner's writing was a bit hard for me to read at first. I was enjoying the story, but not her too-short sentences or what seemed to me like almost apathetic emotional responses to the situations at hand. Trust me though when I say you need to read just a few more chapters—or even one more chapter—and you will read what I and others have read and thanked Leitner in our hearts for sharing. 

What gripped me almost more than what happened in the camps to the Jews, was what happened outside and around them when they walked the streets and passed by everyone. Leitner says of this:
  “But the Germans never saw us. Ask them. They never saw us. Come to think of it, they really didn't.” 

One of the saddest quotes I found was Leitner telling herself, “...I don't know yet how people live, I know only how they die.” The author and so many of those members of the Holocaust had to watch their family members be murdered. Be burned right in front of them. Be shot down. So for Isabella to have survived—how wonderful! But how painful, to carry all those memories for the rest of her life.

With that said, you must read what her husband has to say on her account in the epilogue.
It can be a small and terrible world.

*I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

01 June 2016

Wordful Wednesday//Bond, Parental Bond

Shaken, not stirred, right??

Okay--let's move away from Mr. Bond and towards what this post is really about: the bond I share with my parents.

Living with your parents in your 20s is different from when you are that moody teenager. I am actually not as independent now as I was then; the responsibility for me that falls onto my parents is practically greater now as well.

There's nothing wrong to be said about people that need or choose to live with their parents. But it was not in my original plan. I mean, I didn't think I'd be sick either, but look what happens in this world. Your planning can go wrong in a second. Or if you're me, it can go wrong from a bite by something the size of a poppy seed.

I am thankful I do have this strong and secure bond with my parents because being sick without that support would be excruciating. From hearing what other people have had to say about their experiences with the lack of parental support, I know how blessed I am. My parents have never really treated me like a burden, which is what I have always been fearful of them doing. They have treated me as sick when I've needed them to be there, but they also treat me as a person because that's what I am.

When first ill, experiencing horrific symptoms, my mother never doubted me. She never brushed it off as something less than it was even when she was told by others that nothing was wrong with me. She would demand second opinions, and when she could tell I was too frazzled to question a doctor or speak up for myself, she would do so for me.

At first, my father was not so quick to jump into the pool of my diagnosis, the doctors, and overall, trying to understand the whys and hows of my sickness. He would constantly ask me why God would make me this sick. He could not fathom why I suddenly went from relatively healthy to bedbound.

While he seemed to have troubling doubts with his faith, my doubts too were like a pendulum swinging. Some days I would curse God and cry out how unfair it was. Why me? I couldn't understand why my happiness had been taken, leaving me miserable.

Other days, my love for God soared. I was grateful for what he had given me, even with a major illness taking parts of me and my life away. Just look at the family God had surrounded me with!

So here's to my mother. My father. And of course, the higher power. I am grateful for all the parents I have in my life.

18 May 2016

Wordful Wednesday//Not a Happy Camper

Camping. Hiking. Nature.
Being outdoors. 

It's frustrating knowing what all I have taken for granted. It's frustrating knowing now the slim chances I have of me enjoying those activities again. 

I took a big leap of faith this past weekend and went camping with my family. 
Yes, on Friday the 13th. Yes, in the mountains--and near a lake. No, it thankfully wasn't named “Camp Crystal Lake.” 
But it was frightening all the same. It was my first real camping trip in...well...years! Of course, I stay in the RV with my family every year when we visit the beach but it's not the same. There's never really anything to be scared of at the beach in my mind. It's just a mixture of having sand stuck in your flip-flops and everyone drinking margaritas and loud country music playing on the only radio station that works. And that's fine by me. I don't care because I still feel safe. 

The same can't be said for our stay at the mountains. 
After the diesel engine of the truck died down and Dad said, “You can get out now,” I could feel my stress already begin to take over. I wanted this to be a mini-vacation for me. Something to ease these daily migraines. But it was there in the back of my mind—okay it was screaming at me—TICKS TICKS TICKS. 

I stepped out on a patch of grass, just one tree shading our campsite. It looked slightly cleaner and clearer than what I remembered as a child and young teenager, but it was still familiar and...sickening. I could feel things on me that were not really there. TICKS TICKS TICKS. I started crying immediately. This is where I camped with my family for over 10 years. Possibly where I was bitten, even. Possibly where I developed the disease that would change my life forever.
I did not feel safe at all.

The rest of the weekend was spent with me in the camper—upset on my stomach, sick to death with a migraine, or just plain crummy sick. I used to hike or bike these trails. I used to skateboard and play basketball here. I met amazing friends and random people that I will never forget at this place. 

Yet it seems that this weekend I could barely even step out on a patch of grass.

*May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
Check out prevention tips here as well as basic info about Lyme from ILADS here

15 April 2016

Bedphones Review: No More Sore Ears!

I used to love falling asleep to music. I could never, ever go to sleep with complete silence looming about. That would mean turning on the TV or a fan. But honestly, nothing beats a soothing song, right? 

I have tried listening to different headphones but they are so uncomfortable for me, or they just make falling asleep with them on impossible. I stopped wearing over-the-ear headphones a while back because as much as I toss and turn at night, I cannot keep them on, and they've made both my ears and my head sore in the past. In-ear headphones became a problem soon after not only because they also leave my ears sore, but because I pierced a part of my inner ear, leaving absolutely no way for them to fit in my ear. What to do, what to do??

Bedphones! They allow me to listen to music without rubbing against my ear piercing or causing it pain, the sound experience is pretty good, and no sore ears!

bedphones box comfy blue

They really are surprisingly comfy against my ears. For some reason, the word "cloud" comes to mind when I wear these. I think it's because you don't have that much of a physical feeling with the Bedphones. It feels like you're wearing, in a way, a very thin...cloud.

wearing bedphones headphones

The main problem I had was first figuring out how to put the headphones on (even though the instructions that come with them are pretty clear) and I ended up applying the wire part a little too tight. No worries, though; right after that, I messed with it a little and everything was good to go.

The cables tangle pretty easily, which really is a bit of a problem, so I think I'm going to try to rig up something to hold them in place somehow. Everything else definitely makes up for that. I mean, really.

Like I said, the sound is pretty good. About average, I would say. I like that it's mainly acoustic because I don't want anything with heavy bass. Other headphones would wake me up in the middle of the night with a loud song, scaring me, but wearing these soothe me and are honestly just the right quality to sleep with. No headbanging here.

*I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review

31 March 2016

Book Review: The Doorkeepers by Graham Masterton

doorkeepers graham masterton horror thriller scary book 

Goodreads description (x): 
As far as her family knows, Julia Winward, a young American woman, has been missing in England for nearly a year. When her mutilated body is found floating in the Thames, her brother, Josh, is determined to find out what happened to his sister for all that time, and exactly who - or what - killed her.

But nothing Josh discovers makes any sense. Julia has been working for a company that went out of business sixty years ago, and living at an address that hasn't existed since World War II. The only one who might have been able to help Josh is Ella, a strange young woman with psychic abilities. But the doors she can open are far better left closed. For behind these doors lie secrets that should never be revealed - secrets too horrible to imagine.

My rating: 5 out of 5 hoots 

rating owl scale hoot 

I don't normally fall for the time travel or parallel universe type of stories for some reason—but after reading my first book by Graham Masterton, The Doorkeepers, I realized how silly I've been for skipping out on some great literature.

How action-packed this was and how quickly everything passed surprised me. Except, of course, for those truly horrific moments that made you want to close your eyes but at the same time press on to find out what in the world was going to happen!

The past few books I read before The Doorkeepers left me unfulfilled in a way because the authors didn't spend enough time with the characters; Masterton expanded on his book's characters so much that you feel for each of them in several different (and I mean different) ways. Some truly grotesque ways at that.
While there is a LOT going on in this book—so much that you may need a breather here and there—Masterton never fails to weave everything together. That is miraculous to me considering there are some heavy elements in this book, and many writers could easily fail at the task and leave giant plot holes in their wake.

A couple parts were pretty gruesome and made me wince. I almost felt a character's pain at one point and started squeezing my jaw so tightly it became sore. I felt a character's deep sorrow, I felt curiosity and anger. I almost wanted to be swept up and away in these different Londons. Almost.

I already want to read this book again...

*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

28 March 2016

Playlist: "Strong Soft Songs"

Sunny leaves spring beautiful 

I've been listening to so many great artists lately but I haven't put up a playlist in a good while!
I was listening to one of the songs I'll be featuring today and thought, Today is the day.
That sounds a bit dramatic... But sometimes music can be dramatic too. I wonder if any of these songs will bring out some emotions in you today? Hopefully some good ones! Sing one in a pronounced opera voice. That's always fun for me.

As you've probably noticed, I like indie pop. It's just a nice kind of music. I listen to it when I'm happy, when I'm sad, as background music when I'm working or resting. It's good.
What I like about this artist, Beth Moore, is that her voice is lovely but also has a bit of a growl to it.

I love me a lot of '80s music, and what's best about this song is how much it sounds like it came out of the '80s. Plus, her voice just pulls me in...like what happens in that A-ha music video. Okay, let me return to 2016.

I was talking about the previous artist, Beth Moore, growling....well...check out the lead singer of this band and her growl. Rawrrrrrr.
This is the song I was listening to when I realized more people just had to listen to it and spread it around. It's a song I have been enjoying way too much but I know I'll keep enjoying it because it's too great for me not to.

This next and final song isn't exactly what I'm used to, but for some reason, it grabbed my attention; it made me happy! I hope it makes you happy as well on what is becoming a beautiful spring day here in North Carolina.