Things You Save In A Fire

jacqui_monet
July 28, 2019

Title: Things You Save In A Fire

Author: Katherine Center

Genre: Adult/ Romance/ International

Pages: 308

After seeing the book cover floating around online, this book instantly went on my TBR List. I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for a pretty cover. So imagine my surprise when I received and ARC/ARE/Galley as book mail from Macmillan Publishers! (Insert pterodactyl screech here.) I read it as much and as quickly as I could while holding/nursing/snuggling/diapering my two babies. It. Was. SO. Good.

This first person story is about a talented young female firefighter from Austin, Texas who, for a handful of reasons, relocates to the east coast to take care of her estranged and ailing mother. Her new firehouse is sorely out of date and underfunded, the guys are not particularly fond of having a female in their midst and the only place for her to bunk during shifts used to be the supply closet. It’s a high stakes story about love and family but ultimately forgiveness.

I recommend this book to anyone that has ever felt like an outcast or an under dog. AND it should totally be a movie.

Ratings

Plot: 5/5          Characters: 5/5          Ease of Reading: 5/5

Impostors

jacqui_monet
March 22, 2019

Title: Impostors

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies: Imposters Saga Book 1

Genre: YA/ Science Fiction

Pages: 405

Being completely honest, while I am a fan of Scott Westerfeld and most of his work, I was a little apprehensive when I heard the he would continue the Uglies series. I LOVED the original 3 but found the fourth, Extras, to be “fine”. Impostors, though, did not disappoint me at all!

I enjoyed the story and it moved very well. I don’t find the new cast of characters in this story to be as dynamic as the those from the original books, but the may be because I’m not as attached to them yet. This new series takes place about 16 years or so after the end of the Extras and only one character remains, literally showing up for one scene. I’m not going to get into the story because doing so could spoil the original four books. Yes (!) you need to read the original four or else you will be terribly confused.

Ratings

Plot: 4/5          Characters: 4/5          Ease of Reading: 5/5

My Birth Story: Adriana Lee

jacqui_monet
June 29, 2019

Before the Birth

From the beginning I knew that I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. I wanted to “go the distance!” I wanted this labor and delivery to be everything that my first wasn’t and thankfully, it was. It was an amazingly beautiful experience that wouldn’t have been possible without my fantastic birthing team, my husband and doing my homework.

I started off with the same ObGYN that delivered my first but I knew that I wanted a Black doula. This time around I wanted someone that looked like me to be present in the room. I didn’t like that with my first birth, I didn’t see a single black or brown face the entire time. I knew that my husband would have my back, but it’s nice to have a second person that knows my wishes. Latisa Ratliff of PS Love, Mommy Doula Services was recommended to me through a Facebook friend. She was SUCH a godsend. She helped me with aroma therapy, massage and even helped me wash Sophie’s old baby clothes. Through our meetings she pushed me to go for what I really wanted and talk to a midwife.

You know what? That was the best decision I could have made. I called Willow Midwife Center for Birth and Wellness and after the first appointment switched healthcare providers at about 24 weeks pregnant. Here’s the thing: most women don’t know that they can change providers, like it’s not allowed but that’s not true! All of these people are healthcare providers and we can choose who provides that care. Seriously, I felt at home there right away. I felt empowered and capable and more than anything, I felt heard. And, bonus: they had a Black midwife on staff, Roxanne Barnes. I had appointments with all of the midwives so that I could get to know them as you can’t predict who will be on call when the day comes. But in all honesty I was praying that Roxanne would be on call.

This time around I wanted to go completely natural with as little intervention as possible. So to prepare myself I took prenatal yoga. Yes it’s a thing and dear God it was hard, probably because I had never done yoga before. I also meditated to an amazing hypnobirthing track. I’m not sure if I would label everything I did as prenatal care but it was definitely self care. I took some time to myself to just, relax. I went to the movies with friends but I also went a few times by myself. I got pedicures and fell asleep while they rubbed my feet and calves. I took steamy Epsom salt baths while eating homemade popsicles, sipping ice cold water and binge watching Netflix in the dark. Seriously, I did anything I needed to do any time I felt stressed or overwhelmed.

The Big Day

On the third day of the 41st week of my pregnancy I had my second little girl. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Around 3 am I woke up with some mild discomfort in my lower back, but I couldn’t tell what it was yet so I tried a shower and laid back down. Then 5:30 hit and I was like, “Nope, things are happening.” I woke up my husband, who had just gone to bed because he works nights, to let him know that I was in labor. I called Willow to let them know what was happening and texted Latisa. I propped myself up with pillows on all fours and breathed through my early contractions. Around 9, Emily, from Willow, called to check on me and told me to head on to Banner Ironwood. Ironwood is one of the few hospitals in the valley that give privileges to midwives.

I did the usual check-in and my family settled in to our room, which was huge by the way in comparison to the first room I birthed in. I declined being hooked up to an IV and opted for a Hep lock instead and told hospital staff that I was not consenting to cervix checks. Emily and Latisa sprinkled orange essential oils on the bed and pillows, turned up the thermostat to warm up the room and turned down the lights while I got undressed because I wanted to be totally free. They rubbed my feet and my legs and gave me counter-pressure in my hips and back as Phil watched Sophie and fielded calls from our out-of-state mothers.

My best friend LaQoia arrived and things really picked up. And, when I tell you I labored all over that ward, I mean I labored in every position and place available. On all fours in bed and then with the peanut ball and the squat bar. On the birthing stool. In the tub with Sophie. On the toilet. Walking and squatting through contractions in the hall. LaQoia even slow danced me around the room. They fed me turkey sandwiches and orange slices between contractions. Part way through Emily switched places with Roxanne but I’m not sure how far in. Ultimately I gave birth down on one knee, gripping my friend for stability in the shower as Roxanne caught my little one. Phil and Sophie watched on from the doorway. May 21st, 7:58 pm.

After a minute or two I waddled to the bed to birth the placenta and get shot of Pitocin in the leg to stop my bleeding. While checking for tearing, Roxanne found that I had a pretty bad one because my previous perineal scar had keloided. I ended up having to go back to the OR about an hour later to have a surgeon stitch me up. And at some point I realized that my entire birthing team was Black aside from Emily. My doula, midwife, bff, surgeon and even my anesthesiologist. Unheard of. Especially in Arizona and of all places Queen Creek (the whitest of the white spaces). I. Was. Gagged. I was grateful and amazed. In my wildest dreams, I hadn’t imagined that this could happen, but happened for me.

Two days later we were able to go home, happy and healthy all around. I had gotten everything I wanted out of my birthing experience which could be summed up into one word. Freedom. Freedom to move, eat, make noise, make my own choices without judgment, to have family present, to dance, to take up space and not feel rushed. I birthed surrounded by love and without fear.


The Daddy Arrangement

jacqui_monet
May 29, 2019

Title: The Daddy Arrangement

Author: Paige Parsons

Series: Sugar 101: Book 1

Genre: Romance/ BWWM

Pages: depends on your e-reader

The Daddy Arrangement is a cute first installment to the Sugar 101 series.We are introduced to Keila as an incoming college freshmen and her RA Bri. When Keila mistakenly assumes that Bri’s much older boyfriend, Michael, is her father hilarity ensues, deep conversations are had, and Keila’s eyes are opened to the exciting and nuanced world of sugaring.

I enjoyed that the characters sounded like real people, especially Keila and Bri. So often I read a book or a short story containing modern day college students and I’m left feeling frustrated and fatigued because 18 and 19 year old characters are speaking with the vocabulary of 30-something business executives. Personal pet peeve, I know, but it drives me up the wall. The dialogue is well written with the college girls sounding like college girls (and maturing as they age) and the businessmen sounding like businessmen without slipping into caricature.

If you want something fun to read while sipping a cocktail poolside, this the perfect book for that. Easily finished in a weekend, The Daddy Arrangement is a wonderfully easy summer read and I look forward to reading the second book.

Ratings

Plot: 4/5          Characters: 4/5          Ease of Reading: 5/5

China Rich Girlfriend

jacqui_monet
March 1, 2019

Title: ChinaRich Girlfriend

Author: Kevin Kwan

Series: Crazy Rich Asians, number 2

Genre: Adult/ Romance/ International

Pages: 479

This book, the second in the CRA trilogy did not disappoint at all! The story picks up 2 to 3 years after the first and, my goodness, it doesn’t miss a beat. Like all good soap operas we’ve got a car crash, plastic surgery, social climbers, meddling parents, a wedding, shopping sprees (in Paris!) and fabulous parties.

We’re reaquainted with past characters and introduced to a host of new ones who are hell bent on shaking things up. I loved seeing where Rachel, Nick, and Astrid are in their lives and seeing previous side characters like Kitty Pong become more fleshed out was fantastic. Kevin Kwan continues to do a great job at peeling back the curtain on the ultra elite VVIP life. I eagerly await book three.

Ratings

Plot: 5/5          Characters: 5/5          Ease of Reading: 5/5

Crazy Rich Asians

jacqui_monet
February 22, 2019

Title: Crazy Rich Asians

Author: Kevin Kwan

Series: Crazy Rich Asians, number 1

Genre: Adult/ Romance/ International

Pages: 546

I  enjoyed this book a lot. It was a pretty quick read and I appreciated that the author used authentic slang from the different languages that the characters speak and included a glossary for those terms and them bottom of each page.

Even though many of the characters come from obscene amounts of money, they still felt like real human beings. None of the characters were “all good” or “all bad” which tends to happen in these types of stories. Everyone had their own motivations, hopes and dreams. There were also a ton of characters, so I liked that the author titled the chapters with the character whose POV we were experiencing.

I’m definitely going to read the rest of the trilogy and watch the film.

Ratings

Plot: 3/5          Characters: 5/5          Ease of Reading: 5/5

The Belles

jacqui_monet
February 15, 2019

Title: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Series: The Belles, number 1

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age/ Fantasy

Pages: 434

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Like any novel, the first few chapters took a couple of days to move through. The world created by Ms. Clayton is very detailed and because of the concept of it is so fresh and unique, it took a moment for me to find my bearings, get a good grasp on the rules and understand the lingo. But, honestly, it doesn’t take long to hit your stride.

The characters are well thought out and in a world where changing your entire out appearance and your demeanor can take place in an hour, no one is who they seem to be. The settings and their descriptions are so lush but in a way that distracts from the action.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the second book when it comes out and as it’s published by FreeForm (an imprint of Disney Books), I would love to see this on television in the future.

Ratings

Plot: 4/5          Characters: 4/5          Ease of Reading: 5/5

Bonus!

Sadie

jacqui_monet
August 30, 2018

Title: SADIE

Author: Courtney Summers

Series: N/A

Genre: YA/ Thriller/ True Crime Fiction

Pages: 320

Check out my Two Minute Review of SADIE on my ‘booktube’ channel:

Don’t forget to visit:

Sadie’s Cinnamon Toast

Sadie’s Cinnamon Toast

jacqui_monet
August 30, 2018

In the book SADIE by Courtney Summers, the title character spends the  majority of her time making a good life for herself and her sister. She takes on the responsibility of being “the parent” after her mother skips town. even though she doesn’t have much to give, she gives her sister her all. I think that cinnamon toast is one of those foods that is so incredibly simple to make as well as being super inexpensive because most people already have all of the ingredients in their pantry. Cinnamon Toast can make a great after school snack, a sweet treat after dinner or even a yummy breakfast when paired with some fruit!

You will need:

2 Tablespoons of butter (melted)

3 slices of bread

1/2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon

2 Tablespoon Sugar

Small bowl, Toaster (or toaster oven), Basting/BBQ/or Pastry Brush

Directions:

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Lightly brush butter onto one side of the slices of bread. Sprinkle with sugar mixture.

Repeat on the other side of the bread slices.

Toast coated bread slices to your desired firmness. I like for the crust to be crispy but not burned.

Alternative:

You can sub the butter for a butter based cooking spray or a cooking oil that doesn’t have a strong flavor.

Mama Molony’s Pasties

jacqui_monet
October 20, 2017

Growing up in a small town in Kentucky in the 50s boys like Stone Molony were lucky to have nearly every meal cooked at home. I love pasties and they seem like jut the kind of thing Stone’s mother would whip up for a quick lunch. Check out the completely customizable modern day recipe down below:

You will need:

Shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar but you can use any type that melts well)

Croissant dough (2 packages)

Sauce (I used BBQ for this particular set)

Cooked Meat (I use lil’ smokies that I cut into quarters but you could LITERALLY use any thing shredded or cubed)

Cookie sheet, owl, spoon, oven

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven per the instructions of your croissant dough.

Separate the croissant dough triangles.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and spoon onto half of the triangles.

Place the other half of the triangles on top and pinch closed.

Bake in the oven per the instructions of the croissant dough.

Literally. That’s it and it’s so, so good. You make substitutions to make it your own. You could even use biscuit dough instead of croissant dough. Go for it! Have fun! But be ware that this does  NOT reheat well.