Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blogger Book Swap (The First)

Ehrmahgerd, it's my first link-up!
To bring in 2013, the year of opportunities (I just made that up), I'm co-hosting a blogger book exchange. For me, books are such a personal part of who I am. Reading as child took me to whole new places and inspired my imagination. It contributed to who I am as a crafter, designer, blogger and who I am as a person. So I am really excited about this opportunity and I'm also looking forward to meeting new bloggers.

What is a book swap?
It's an opportunity to get to know other bloggers and avid readers that are part of the blogging community.  By swapping books, you're connecting with another blogger out there in the blogosphere and we're all making the interwebs a "smaller world." 

When is it going on?
The month of January- sign up now until January 12th.  Get to know your partner by the 19th and then ship their awesome new read by the 26th.  Sound good?

How do I participate?
Follow the directions below and sign-up using the Google docs form. You'll receive an e-mail with
your blogging book buddy information (sorry, I love alliterations) and then you're set to go!   

What should I include?
This part is totally up to you.  A new or used book is perfectly acceptable.  I personally love both and finding an awesome used bookstore or a Goodwill with a stellar book selection is always a favorite of mine.  Also include a personal note saying why you selected this book for them.  I've seen folks at other book swaps include: bookmarks, notebooks, book plates, etc.  I plan on wrapping mine up and I just can't wait to see who I end up with.  I love surprises :)

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me or any of the awesome co-hosts!
Flip Flops and Combat Boots  
Daliene's Alamo Adventures
By the Porchlight

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="TheSimplicityofBeingCurious" width="300" height="225" /></a>

Instagram 2012 Year in Review

Holy geez
What an awesome year!
I realized yesterday that putting my blog, year in review recap didn't even begin to address all of the stuff Ryan and I did this year or just events that happened.  Raechel Myers, blogger at Finding My Feet, made a year in review and it inspired me to put this together.  As a visual learner, it was fun to reminisce, from being in college to Holly's ears still not standing up yet and finally moving to California.
I hope we continue to have many more awesome adventures in the new year.
Peace N' Blessings y'all

Read Your Way Across the USA & December Cara Box 

For December, I decided to participate in a fun blogger exchange by Wifessionals called the Cara Box Exchange.   Essentially you are partnered up with two people, one you send to and one you receive from.  I e-mailed both of my people and we discussed things we were looking forward to this seasonThe theme was holiday sparkle and my exchange partners were Christin from Babies, Bosses, and BFs and I sent my holiday sparkle package to Tanya at The Baksha Five.  I received from Christin an adorable picture frame, a sign that says "Unlock your Dreams," a vanilla-scented candle (love me some candles), and adorable ornaments- tons of holiday sparkle!  Christin definitely recognized how I love all of the little holiday details :)  She also sent me a lovely note along with the package.  She's a sweetheart!  If you care to see what I sent Tanya, check out her lovely post!  It definitely made me smile and I hope both ladies thoroughly enjoyed their holiday season.

Now for those who didn't participate in this month's Cara Box, I found this site, Epic Reads, off of a Pinterest link and there's this really cool map in which you can "read your way across the USA." They have additional maps and other resources.  If you're interested in challenging your book arsenal, give these books a look.  I have only made a slight dent in this reading list and I haven't even read the book listed for Wisconsin- oh the shame!

Have fun reading!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Recap

Guys, it's almost 2013

Time for a recap!

- On the 7 January, I started this lovely blog under the name The Wild Blue Yonder, it's an Air Force reference.  My husband was still deployed to Aghanistan and many of my friends were encouraging me to post my crafting projects and especially my care packages.

- Sucked at blogging, probably because I found out that Ryan wasn't coming home in March and his deployment got extended until May.  Yep, that would turn the happiest of bloggers into a sour patch kid.

- Although I didn't really blog during this time, I did make a lot of care packages and my Care Package post is my most popular blog post, channeling a lot of hits from Pinterest.  Thanks y'all!

- Graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Ryan came home from his second deployment to Afghanistan
- Moved to California
- Celebrated our 1-year anniversary
- We got our Holly baby and she is the cutest puppy ever.
Now this post was for when Ryan finished his contract with the Marine Corps, however, it includes several videos of what happened during the year and especially the month of May. 

- Holly, our fur child, gave Ryan his first Father's Day card.

- Went back to visit Wisconsin while Ryan had leave.  Holly swam in Lake Michigan for the first time and grew a fondness for sprinklers. Ryan and I also had epic Wii marriage battles.

- I made these sweet silhouette canvases, some garbage bread, a paint swatch calendar and much more.
- August provided the most blog posts of the year, including guest posts from Meagan (favorite reads), Laura (tips on thrifting), and Becca (becoming Miss Kenosha).
- I made the move from Camp Pendleton to Central Coast California to start my life as a new AF officer.

- Did a little post on what it was like at our new rental property and how our property managers failed to mention quite a few things.
- Celebrated my roommate's birthday!
- Went on my first wine tour.

- I took all of my readers to a Marine Corps Ball.
- I showed a few tips and tricks on holiday decorating.
- Kind of got off of my chest my feelings for a lot of the blogs that are starting to lose their content.

- Decided to start celebrating Chanukah/Hanukkah on my own.
- Wrote a letter to Santa.
- Joined GBE 2 and started more continuous writing prompts
- Guest post from Destiny at A Little Serendipity

 Thanks for being my readers *tear*


Since I've become way more active in the blogosphere, I plan on blogging more and having better quality posts- that is my pledge to my readers :)
Expect some humor, some emotion, and a good times my friends

Also I have a link-up project in the works and I'm hoping you'll want to participate!
If your blog is interested in helping co-sponsor, let me know by e-mailing me or commenting below.


Thanks for reading!

Friday Letters & Favorites

I should probably link up or something.
That's how the cool kids do it ;)
But I actually wanted to cover so much in this post, 
so I'm throwing caution to the wind and doing it all baby!

Obsessions for Today the Week ;)
I know I talked about how I was feeling a bit like the grinch this year, but after reading Lindsey's post on Pillow Thought and Ashley's post on Little Miss Momma, I suddenly felt like my heart grew two sizes too big.  Lindsey's little girl is so cute and can I say, what adorable matching jammies?  I will definitely be making Christmas morning videos from now on, they're a perfect way to capture holiday memories.  I loved Ashley's post because I feel like that's how my future Christmases will be and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Speaking of all things warm and fuzzy, Jordan over at Southern Hospitality, just posted her wedding video and it is simply perfect.  She got married earlier this month and did most of it on her own in terms of DIY crafting.  It's so beautiful and in Kimmie fashion, I love all of the details.  Last but no least, I tried probably ten times today in convincing my husband to take me to the animal shelter to go look at puppies.  He has resisted all ten times, but persistence brings results so I will keep Badgering him until I see said results (haha get it, "badger"...a little Rosebowl humor).  But if you're like me and want to save all da little babies, check out Kayla's post at Sealed with a Kay on how you can help shelter animals.

Friday Letters
Dear Amazon and Kindle Fire,
My goal is to actually purchase more of your daily deals, since they are so awesome. I would like to make more use out of you Kindle Fire but I am a stubborn sole and I love holding a tangible novel in my hands, so please excuse my stubbornness.

Dear Cake Carrier aka Transporter of All Things Delicious,
I am incredibly excited that I found you at Marshalls for $12.  Normally you are around $26 and I was so excited that I was able to justify the purchase to Ryan and he bought it for me.  Ka-ching!  I now plan on making all sorts of delicious cakes and cupcakes for every type of occasion- huzzah!

Dear Blog Lady Commenter,
Your comment bothered me, probably because it became rather apparent that you did not read the post to begin with.  If you're going to comment and offer me a lecture on marriage, I suggest you read the post.  Secondly, I have been married for almost two years, so I really wasn't sure what you were trying to get at with your comment.  I appreciate any and all comments as a form of discussion, but yours honestly felt like a day late and a dollar short.

Dear Nikon DSLR,
You and I are about to have a whole lot of fun.  Call up your friend, the tripod, and blog readers can expect a lot more family photos.

Dear Winter Exodus,
You are the perfect amount of time off.

Guest Blog Post: Destiny from A Little Serendipity

Happy Friday Readers! As I'm putting together my weekly "letters," I really wanted to introduce you all to an awesome blogger, Destiny, over at A Little Serendipity.  I don't have too many guest bloggers but one day I noticed that Destiny was participating in my button swap and decided to check out her blog.  Her posts are filled with such sincerity and she's just starting out in the blogging community, so I thought that more people who love those content-driven posts would really appreciate what she has to offer.  So I hope you all enjoy and make sure you check out her blog :)

Hello, lovely new friends!

I'm Destiny and I blog over at A Little Serendipity.  I'm a quirky, offbeat 24-year old with a crazy hectic life (full time Office Coordinator, full time student, new blogger, etc.) with some pretty different views on the world. I'm a huge believer in positive thought and the pleasant effects it can have on your life (I know, I know- "hippy mombojombo". I'm normal, I promise!). A Little Serendipity is all about my journey through life and all those life lessons that tend to sneak up and bite me in the butt enlighten me with joy and wisdom!

Growing up, I've found that I've really had to "retrain my brain" into a more productive, positive way of thinking. As a teen, I really struggled with my emotions. I think a lot of it had to with the fact that I didn't know who I was. I knew who I wanted to be, I had set expectations for myself, but I always felt like I didn't understand how to get there or how to be that person. For a bit, I just accepted things as they were. I started thinking "well, I'll never be the girl I want to be because I'm too quiet." or "I'll never be able to do that because I'm just not smart enough"- I think we all get stuck in the cycle of being a bit too hard on ourselves from time to time.

I had this huge list of things that would make me happy. For instance, 13-year old me thought she'd be happy if she went to Hogwarts, 15-year old me thought she'd be happy if she moved to Europe and became a fashion designer, etc. A certain part of my fantasy always stayed constant no matter my age- by 25 I always imagined that I would have my entire life "together". That was the plan- I'd be married by 20 to a guy with an adorable English accent (perhaps he'd be royalty), have an amazing job as a magazine editor/fashion designer/Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader by 21, adopt the most adorable little boy by 22, and live happily ever after. Yeah, basically I'd have all my ducks in a row, and have my "stuff" together.

Here's where reality sets in- I got out of high school and took a look at my life and realized I had no idea what I actually wanted. Sure, I'd made all these plans but what did I really want? I still wasn't the person I wanted to be. I was still trying to fit into the definition of "me" that was set by the expectations of everyone around me and (at 18) I decided I needed time to figure things out and made the choice not to go to college. I went back to school the next year, at 19, but 20 came and went without an engagement ring, 21 came and went without that amazing job (although I do LOVE my job now), 22 came and went without the adorable happy kid I saw in my dreams, and I finally, at 24, started to realize that happily ever after wasn't what I thought it was.

You know why? Happiness doesn't come from success. Happiness comes before success. I'm a 24- year old with a messy life but I'm happier than I have ever been. You know that saying- you can't buy happiness?  It's true- you can't.  No perfect career will make you happy.  YOU make you happy.  Success does not make you happy, but being happy makes you successful. You see what I did there?

I've found that I set the bar of expectations for my life. So what if I'm not where I hope to be later on? I'll get there. That's perfectly okay. Happiness comes from accepting that. Happiness is understanding (and accepting) that the perfect relationship isn't real. A healthy relationship involves arguing a bit from time to time, disagreeing, but accepting/loving each other in spite of that. Happiness is the realization that you will have bad moments but the determination not to let those moments turn into bad days.

We live in the age of social media and I think it hinders us in a way because we see these relationships, the pictures, the sweet statuses, the blog posts- and we think "why don't I have that? What is wrong with me?" What we don't see is that five minutes earlier that food blogger burnt a batch of cupcakes and started to swear, those two people smiling in that adorable picture on Facebook probably just fought over finances the day before. We don't see the dirty diapers, the "messy moments" in life and we set ourselves up to believe that we can live a life where they don't exist.

Except we can't.

What we fail to really realize is that they are human just like us. We are, all of us, human and flawed and beautiful. It's a really, really glorious thing that we all struggle with from time to time. But we are real. Happiness is reveling in the realization that those "messy moments" make us exactly who we are and that we are learning, growing, and changing every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

And happiness is the ultimate success, right?


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holly Bear & Someone Got a DSLR

I must have been super good this year because I got a Nikon DSLR for my birthday/Christmas present! I've been wanting a DSLR for years now and I am so excited to have received one.  Of course, being obsessed with my dog, Holly was my first subject.  She's such an adorable model.  Please do not take or copy these photos without my permission.  Thanks everybody!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brown Paper Packages, Tied Up With String

Christmas morning is always such a thrill.
There is nothing quite like the anticipation of what Santa may have brought you.
I think, that's why getting older gets so difficult.
A little bit of that magic dwindles and you're left to hold onto whatever you can.
This Christmas felt a little bit like Clash of the Titans.
It was Ryan vs. Me and the traditions we grew up with.
Do you know the character Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation?
One of my absolute favorite shows and characters (of course, I love Ron Swanson as well).
I have been compared to Ms. Knope in terms of my energy levels for being productive and well, loving all things festive.  My husband, on the other hand, is quite the opposite.
We had very different Christmas traditions.
I feel like Ryan had a more normal Christmas and my grandmother created a Christmas that would rival all of the Disney empire.

Now this wasn't her collection but it was about the same amount of houses, just spread all around the house. Source
Christmas Eve, we would go to a Catholic mass in my hometown and then drive over to my grandma's house for Christmas dinner.  She would always make this pistachio dessert salad that I loved and we always loved grandma's house because Santa would always visit it the night before to drop off our presents.  It was like they had some type of deal set up ;) awesome kids = tons of presents or that's at least how we liked to think about it.

My grandma's house was fully decorated with a Christmas village collection that went all over the house. She even had this snow castle that looked like a Disney castle decorated in ice and she had all the little details, including people, skating ponds, a train, lights, etc. It always felt like Christmas over at her house.  After dinner, we would all gather around and wait for permission to check the living room to see what Santa got us.  Now as soon as we rounded the corner from the kitchen, the living room was filled with presents.  I'm not exaggerating because the grandkids would get sections of the living room dedicated to presents.  We were so spoiled but it truly made Christmas so magical because it was just surreal. 
My favorite Christmas was the year I got my American Girl Doll, Samantha.  As we rounded the corner from my grandma's kitchen, all of a sudden I saw two American Girl dolls displayed, one for me and one for my cousin.  I started to scream with excitement.  I had been receiving the American Girls catalog for years and so badly wanted the doll, Samantha.  I had put her on so many of my wishlists and I finally got her.  When I think of that level of excitement and how awesome that felt being a little kid in all of the wonder of Christmas- that's how I picture the holidays.  It's just sheer joy and being with family.
When Ryan ended his Marine Corps contract, it conveniently fell right before our first Christmas together.  Now, we've been married for almost two years, however, this is our first together being married and physically in the same house.  Last year he was deployed to Afghanistan and I was in Wisconsin.  This year, we spent it in Central Coast California.  The holidays this year were definitely a change from what we were both used to.  Last year consisted of sending a ton of care packages Ryan's way to help him think of home.  This year there was no snow and unfortunately we couldn't fly back home to Wisconsin.

I was kind of in a funk.

I had my husband, my puppy and a lot of love from Wisconsin, but it didn't "feel" like Christmas. 
I did the usual, put up a Christmas tree, made a tree skirt, attempted to crochet stockings (I made one HUGE one), tried to make Christmas cookies but they didn't turn out right...schtuff just wasn't working out.  It felt different this year and my husband made many attempts in explaining to me that it's all part of growing up but is that really the case?  If this is growing up and not enjoying the magic of Christmas, as childish as that may be, well then this is just terrible.  I honestly don't think it's part of losing the magic of Christmas, I think it's all in adjusting.  Being in the military, you're most likely not going to be anywhere near your family.  Nevertheless, our families sent us boxes filled with presents and Christmas joy.  We received so many cards this year from all over the country and from so many friends.  Skyping on Christmas wasn't as good as being there in person, but it was wonderful seeing how big my "little" brother has grown.  He's way taller than me- something I'm still not used to.  I don't think I could ever let the magic and wonder of Christmas die down, I think I just need to be a little easier on myself.  Not everything is going to turn out perfectly but as long as I have my fambam with me, life is good.

However, no matter if I'm in a "grinchy" mood or not, I still love giving presents!
So here is what my lovely beau received from me this year:

So as you can see, most of them are DVDs- yay for stay-at-home, movie date nights! Option two is the best smelling soap for men in a gun mold for my gun aficionado.  Option three was not exactly as pictured, but I made Ryan a shadowbox of his ribbons and medals. It was really simple to put together and painted all black to showcase his awards.  It looks wonderful on our mantle.  Option six is a book from Blurb that featured all of my adventures while Ryan was deployed.  It was really easy to make and they retrieved photos from my Instagram to make it.  Last was a backpack for my soon-to-be college student aka husby!

Thanks for reading and I hope you're enjoying your post-Christmas Day!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

GBE 2: Decision

I've recently joined a writing group that is casual and meant to be a fun writing exercise.  It's called GBE 2 and you can find the link here on Facebook.  At the end of the post, you can find more information.

This week's prompt: 

love quote love quote love quote

For my very first prompt, I'm going to discuss a topic that is really personal to me.  Going against my original "life plan," I got married pretty young.  Ryan and I knew each other from high school and stayed friends while I was in college.  Getting married at 21-years old was completely against the pathway of a graduate from a public ivy-style university.  What "you're supposed to do" involves graduating in 4+ years, establishing your career, then start dating and eventually get married.  At least that was the life plan that I thought I was going to have for myself.  However, after dating Ryan in my junior year of college, I fell madly in love with him.  I didn't really date while in high school because the guys, to be frank, had really vague ideas of their goals.  I knew that I wanted to get into a really great university and no one was going to get in my way.  I was devoted to amping up my resume and being the best student I could be and because of that I was kind of awkward around guys in high school.  When I got to college, I was now surrounded by these guys that were career-driven and liked to have a good time.  Nevertheless,  a lot of college relationships were very shallow and fleeting.

When I started dating Ryan,  I knew he was something completely different than the guys that I had been dating.  He was genuine and incredibly driven as a person.  He wasn't wrapped up in partying on the weekends.  As a young person, he fought in two deployments overseas and his Friday nights consisted of patrols, not Jaeger bombs.  It was just a completely different dynamic.  We also had amazing conversations.  I think it really was the element of having to communicate over phone calls, text messages, e-mails, etc. that forced us to really explore who we are as people all over again.

Ryan first asked me to think about the idea of marrying him on February 9, 2011.  I thought he was out of his mind.  This went completely off the college path.  However, we discussed it for weeks and I knew that I loved this man more than anything.  Then came explaining this to my parents, the rest of my family and my friends.  They didn't take it too well.  This became a long, drawn out process in which my dad, who is one of my best-friends, refused to acknowledge or talk to me for almost six months.  Ryan proposed to me on St. Patrick's Day on a beach close to Camp Pendleton, while I was out there for my spring break.  I could not have been more ecstatic.  I was welcomed back with so many well wishes and blessings.  There are still some friendships that have gone through a lot of strained processes and we're just getting back to where our friendships started.  Although there were many happy moments, it was still one of the most stressful times in my life.  Here was this wonderful and happy occasion of two people uniting together in love and there was so much unhappiness surrounding it.  I had family members telling me that this was an awful idea and it just weighed heavily on me.  It was also a time in my life where the cliche of realizing who were my "real" friends were and they were happened because these were the people who had learned to accept me as a person, the relationship I was in, and that not everyone needs to follow the same path.

Having been a military spouse and being in the military myself, I've witnessed what it's like for young people, from both college-educated backgrounds and not, experience what comes along with getting married young and that type of decision-making.  Yes, you choose to grow up quickly but that's something we accept with our lifestyle in the military and falling in love.  It's also taught me to not be so quick to judge other's actions and decisions because I absolutely hated when people did that to me and to my husband.  Everyone has to go on their own journeys and make their own life decisions.

Blogging GBE style is simple. Every Sunday evening there is a new writing prompt/challenge on the GBE page. You can then interpret the prompt any way you want and blog on it in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post as a comment into the weekly topic thread so that other members can read/comment. Blogs should be posted by the end of the following Saturday night.

One thing: This is for fun, and it should NEVER feel like work. So if you join in, feel free to skip a topic (or 10) and read/comment as much or as little as you want. NO PRESSURE.

That’s it!

Happy blogging!

Literary Junkies Linkup

Goings on in Texas

1. What are you currently reading? Tell us about it.
The best answer to this would be a response along the lines of, what am I not reading?  
If you've followed my posts in the past, you know that I am a bookaholic and due to my rigorous training schedule, I haven't been able to read as often as I would like to.  Usually by the time I get home, I'm wiped, but my Goodreads, an overflowing bookshelf, and an Amazon wishlist just itching to adjust to my Kindle contain several items, including:


That's not even a dent in my reading wishlist, but I am so excited to dive into each one :)
2. If you could choose any author in the world to write a story based on your life, who would you choose to be the author? Why?
The first author that popped into my head was J.K. Rowling, but I was obsessed with Lemony Snicket's books while growing up.  I think his witticisms and charm would be fun to have in constructing a story written about a young woman in the nuclear weapons field of the Air Force.  That could become really interesting.  Otherwise, I would love to be interviewed by Oprah and she has a a world famous bookclub, so regardless if my story made a book, I'd at least get an Oprah blog post ;)

3. Tell us about your favorite place to read.
As a kid, we had this incredibly comfortable couch and it was the "fancy" couch.  We had a family room in a finished basement, however, the "fancy" couch was my favorite place to read.  Now on my own, I love to read while traveling on a plane.  That's usually when I find the time to actually finish what I started and often times I end up picking a new selection at one of many airport bookstores.  I remember trying to establish an internet connection for my Kindle Fire and it just wasn't working at some airport.  I finally got fed up and bought the paperback at the bookstore.  Although not really a place where I sit down to devour novels, I love bookstores! We have this adorable small bookstore, not too far from where I live and I frequent it often, solely because small bookstores have a certain charm that even places like Barnes and Noble can't capture.  Picking up a book and reading the back cover or the sleeve is a magical experience. 

4. What books would you buy for lovers of a) suspense/mystery, b) chicklit, c) comedy, d) literary fiction, e)nonfiction, f) classics? (You can choose how many of those subcategories you want to talk about.)

Everyone and their mom is talking about Gone Girl and I actually own it.  I have been dying to read it and with winter exodus, aka winter break, I'm hoping to crack open those pages.  Beeteadubs, I got it used for half price $$ <-- love when that happens :D

Goodreads Summary:
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.


Now I'm not sure if the 50 Shades trilogy technically counts as Chicklit but let's face it, everybody knows about Christian Grey and they're an easy read.  Although it has become a phenom for its more risque elements, though I'd like to preface that by saying that what is usually mentioned in the books is commonplace in any raunchy romance novel, I think it's beneficial for our generation to explore the type of communication Christian Grey uses throughout the books.  Not the whips and sexy jeans type of communication, but he does actively ask for consent for every element of their relationship.  I'm a firm believer that our social construct could really benefit from having communication and consent become major factors on how we teach our children to socialize with each other.  When they grow up, that still carries with them and not to rant too much, but real, in depth communication could probably help alleviate many problems that people have with their relationships today.

Now I can't think of any off of the top of my head, but I do own Bossypants, but I haven't read it yet.  I heard there were great reviews on that.

Literary Fiction
I read this a long time ago and the book was touching that it made me cry. You fall in love with the characters and their struggles and triumphs.  It makes you appreciate that simplicities in life are not so bad.  I highly recommend this and there's even a movie on it, if you also enjoy movie adaptations.

Summary from Goodreads:
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It's a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie's five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his "meaningless" life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: "Why was I here?"

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade 

I came across this book when I was really young and kind of put it on the back burner until I got older just because I wasn't sure if I could quite appreciate the content.  I graduated from UW in strat comm and gender & women's studies, so I ended up taking a rhetoric of reproductive rights course and my term project was on reproductive rights, I know surprising.  However, this book was a major component of that discussion and how the climate and conversation around reproductive has evolved in some ways but not all.  This book is very good and I highly recommend it.  It really dives into a look at an earlier generation and a topic that wasn't really discussed around them.  It most definitely is not Leave it to Beaver kind of material.

Summary from Goodreads:
A powerful and groundbreaking revelation of the secret history of the 1.5 million women who surrendered children for adoption in the several decades before Roe v. Wade

In this deeply moving work, Ann Fessler brings to light the lives of hundreds of thousands of young single American women forced to give up their newborn children in the years following World War II and before Roe v. Wade. The Girls Who Went Away tells a story not of wild and carefree sexual liberation, but rather of a devastating double standard that has had punishing long-term effects on these women and on the children they gave up for adoption. Based on Fessler's groundbreaking interviews, it brings to brilliant life these women's voices and the spirit of the time, allowing each to share her own experience in gripping and intimate detail. Today, when the future of the Roe decision and women's reproductive rights stand squarely at the front of a divisive national debate, Fessler brings to the fore a long-overlooked history of single women in the fifties, sixties, and early seventies.

In 2002, Fessler, an adoptee herself, traveled the country interviewing women willing to speak publicly about why they relinquished their children. Researching archival records and the political and social climate of the time, she uncovered a story of three decades of women who, under enormous social and family pressure, were coerced or outright forced to give their babies up for adoption. Fessler deftly describes the impossible position in which these women found themselves: as a sexual revolution heated up in the postwar years, birth control was tightly restricted, and abortion proved prohibitively expensive or life endangering. At the same time, a postwar economic boom brought millions of American families into the middle class, exerting its own pressures to conform to a model of family perfection. Caught in the middle, single pregnant women were shunned by family and friends, evicted from schools, sent away to maternity homes to have their children alone, and often treated with cold contempt by doctors, nurses, and clergy.

The majority of the women Fessler interviewed have never spoken of their experiences, and most have been haunted by grief and shame their entire adult lives. A searing and important look into a long-overlooked social history, The Girls Who Went Away is their story

I love The Great Gatsby in all of its sadness and its emphasis on humanity.  It captures the human spirit and how we can be wonderful and cruel, all depending on circumstances.  Leonardo DiCaprio will be playing Gatsby and I am incredibly excited to see how this turns out.

Summary from Goodreads:
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.