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Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Babymoon in Chicago

As I mentioned in my "I'm Back" post, I'm currently pregnant with our first child! Now that I'm not constantly affected with nausea and wanting to throw up and the mere mention of food, my husband and I decided we wanted a quick getaway.

Originally, we had planned to take a London/Paris vacation this summer, but once we realized I was pregnant, the idea of a 14-some hour flight and walking around London and Paris for a few days (not to mention the price tag), just didn't seem like the best idea. Plus, I wouldn't get to eat all the food and drink all the wine I wanted. Luckily, the only thing lost was the hours I had spent planning said trip.

Once we made the decision to no longer travel to Europe this summer, our planning stalled. We knew we wanted to go somewhere, but where? Joe was thinking a cabin somewhere - but they he made me watch Hush on Netflix. I don't think he thought that through. Let's plan a weekend in a cabin right after watching a movie about a masked killer who shows up at a cabin in the woods and starts murdering people. No. Pass.

Two weekends ago we decided on Chicago. Neither us has had been there and it wasn't an awful drive from our house to the city. That Monday, after firmly deciding on Chicago, we looked at the calendar and realized between now and "too late," the only weekend we could go was that weekend.

After ensuring the stars aligned (Joe's parents could watch Bentley, getting time off work, hotel at a reasonable price, etc.) we booked our trip! Luckily, we knew a few people who used to live in Chicago and got a few tips on where to stay and what to do.

We dropped Bentley off Friday afternoon at Joe's parents and after feeling like an awful person as he watched us pull away from the window, we set off  for our long weekend getaway!

Babymoon Pros

  • It's the "last time" you and your significant other will get to vacation on your own. Don't get me wrong, we are thrilled to become parents, but aren't delusional to all that comes with it. Chicago is filled with vacationing families and we weren't spared the sight of tantrums and maneuvering strollers through the crowded streets.
  • When you get tired and cranky due to walking around in the high 80-degree heat, your husband doesn't mind heading back to the hotel so you can shower and nap. Any other point in my life this would have granted me an eye roll. Of course, any other point in my life this wouldn't have been a big deal.
  • If you go to a place (like Chicago) with great shopping you can buy your little one a few
     Our hotel was right on the Magnificent Mile so as well as wandering and doing some shopping, we stopped at the Disney Store and may or may not have bought an outfit for our daughter's one year birthday. Look, I love Disney and I couldn't pass it up! They had the cutest baby section and I could have easily bought one of every outfit they had for sale. Note: When grabbing this picture from, I saw that they have matching shoes! Why didn't I see those in the store?!
  • Going to the crowded jazz club on Saturday night ensures you get a seat at the bar. A good friend of ours told us we had to go to Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, a former speakeasy that Al Capone owned. By the time we got the lounge it was packed, but while waiting for our drinks (mine was a water, calm yourselves), a man seated at the bar offered me his seat so I didn't have to stand.
  • If you time it right, while on your Babymoon, you can also celebrate your seventh anniversary. I didn't realize this until making dinner reservations for Saturday night, but it happened to be the same day as our (dating) anniversary, so that made the day and trip a bit more special.

Babymoon Cons

  • Depending on when you go during your pregnancy, you easily get tired. I'm in the middle of my second trimester, so I'm feeling pretty good. Not first trimester nausea and extreme tiredness, not third trimester exhaustion and "get this thing out of me." However, walking around Chicago in the heat makes one tired and cranky. We didn't get to do all we had wanted to do due to the heat and my pregnancy, but that just means we have to go back one day.  :)
  • If you're a wine/beer/alcohol drinker, you can't indulge in a drink with dinner or after walking around in the heat. I'm not a huge drinker, but when we go out to dinner I like to have a glass of wine. Can't do that while pregnant, so I just stared wistfully at Joe's beers while drinking my water.
  • Same goes for food. We went to Tanta for dinner one night and they have some intriguing things on the menu, but I couldn't partake in all of it because some food is off-limits. Same goes for the sushi at Shaw's.  :(


While you may not get to do everything you want, it's still a special vacation that you share with your significant other before becoming a family of three (or four if you count your furbaby). We had an amazing time in Chicago and I'm so glad that we got to go.

Have you ever gone on a Babymoon, where did you go, what did you do? Or is that something you'd want to do when the time comes?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Author Interview + Giveaway: The Facts of Life by Patrick Gale

Publication.Date  July 5th 2016
Published By:  Open Road Media
AuthorPatrick Gale

The Facts of Life on Goodreads
My review copy:Courtesy of Net galley 
Where to get:

Amazon Kindle

A young composer, Edward Pepper, is exiled from his native Germany by the war, struck down with TB, and left to languish in an isolation hospital. But then he falls in love with his doctor, Sally Banks, and his world is transformed. They set up home in a bizarre dodecahedral folly, The Roundel -- a potent place, which grows in significance as it bears witness to their family's tragedies and joys. The years pass, and Edward watches from this sanctuary as both his grandchildren, Jamie and Alison, fall prey to the charms of Sam, an enigmatic builder, and have to come to terms with some of the tougher facts of life.

It was a pleasure to gain answers to some of my most burning questions from the author Patrick Gale. After reading his book "The Facts of Life" I have come to realize what a seasoned author he is and his knowledge of writing is vast and very intriguing. 

What made you want to become a writer?
Reading, I expect. I was a voracious reader as a small boy and naturally performative and soon found that I had a certain facility. I’ve always suspect the impulse to read and that to write are extremely close. Certainly when I’m writing, I’m constantly imagining what my reader will be thinking… But I hadn’t planned on writing for a living. I planned on being a musician or an actor, or some combination of the two but writing got there first.

Pen, typewriter or computer?
Pen for fiction. Computer for screenplays (as the layouts are so fiddly and I need constantly to beware of writing too much). I type up each draft of a novel, often failing to read my spidery handwriting, then produce another draft on top of the printout in ink again. Inky writing just seems to suit my brain and I find it’s important to see my thought processes in case I want to reinstate a first impulse I’ve crossed out.

Do you write alone or in public?
I prefer alone. My husband Aidan designed me a beautiful writing room in our garden that is wonderfully silent unless I open the door or windows, and wonderfully warm. It’s lined with oak and has a ceiling like an upturned boat and a really big desk so I can make a really big mess. But I also love writing on the train journeys between Penzance and London, which are nearly six hours long.

Do you prefer ​music or silence​?​
Music works for me, provided it’s music with no words I can understand. I have a big digital box thing that holds virtually all our CD collection and I like setting it to random so that it throws up tracks that strike sparks off each other, lurching from an intense bit of Shostakovich to some giddy Handel aria and then off again into Poulenc or Bach. It’s all classical, though, which helps focus my brain. I save sexier music for my playlist when I’m running...

E-book or physical copy?
There’s a place for both but I tend only to use my e reader when I’m travelling. And I’ll never have the emotional attachment to my e-reader that I do to physical books.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
An early reviewer once said words to the effect that “It’s all very amusing but one does start to wonder quite what is the point.” This was hugely salutary and I now regularly pull myself up short when writing and ask myself what the point is.

What has been the best compliment?
Well several people have been very kind indeed but I always love the reviewers who say they didn’t know my work before but immediately rushed out to seek out my backlist. Always a good sign.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
The most memorable has to be the man who designed the book jacket for A Place Called Winter, who was barely a third in when he realised that we were both descended from the same man. In fact we’re long lost fourth cousins!

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
Armistead Maupin’s Tales From the City series, which I read at a crucial stage when I was just starting as a novelist myself, made me realise how profoundly alive your characters can be made to feel if you get those little details right. Armistead and I are very different writers but I think we share a pretty intense relationship with our readers which seems to be founded upon allowing a bunch of people to believe that just out of sight, these characters’ lives are quietly carrying on. I remember feeling a kind of homesickness about Armistead’s Barbary Lane and its inhabitants, deeply wishing I could live there too, which is a sensation I always hope I might be able to bring on in my readers as well.

Who is your favorite author?
I have so many but there are certain writers whose work I buy the second it comes out, even if I can’t read it straightaway. Armistead, naturally, but also Anne Tyler, Rose Tremain, Colm Toibin and Damon Galgut.

Favorite book (if you can pick just one)?
Mansfield Park is pretty well perfection. If ever I’m really ill, I’ll want to have somebody sit at the bedside and read it to me.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I play the cello (both modern and baroque instruments). And I’m an obsessive gardener. In fact I’d quite happily spend a year doing nothing but work in my garden.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Mansfield Park, of course!

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
Harry’s sister-in-law, George. She’s sporty and shrewd. I think she’d think me silly and she’d be immune to my attempts to charm her.

What do you love most about the writing process?
Telling myself a story. Pushing myself to open up and say things on paper I probably wouldn’t have the courage to say in real life.

Patrick was born on 31 January 1962 on the Isle of Wight, where his father was prison governor at Camp Hill, as his grandfather had been at nearby Parkhurst. He was the youngest of four; one sister, two brothers, spread over ten years. The family moved to London, where his father ran Wandsworth Prison, then to Winchester. At eight Patrick began boarding as a Winchester College Quirister at the cathedral choir school, Pilgrim's. At thirteen he went on to Winchester College. He finished his formal education with an English degree from New College, Oxford in 1983.

He has never had a grown-up job. For three years he lived at a succession of addresses, from a Notting Hill bedsit to a crumbling French chateau. While working on his first novels he eked out his slender income with odd jobs; as a typist, a singing waiter, a designer's secretary, a ghost-writer for an encyclopedia of the musical and, increasingly, as a book reviewer.

His first two novels, The Aerodynamics of Pork and Ease were published by Abacus on the same day in June 1986. The following year he moved to Camelford near the north coast of Cornwall and began a love affair with the county that has fed his work ever since.

He now lives in the far west, on a farm near Land's End with his husband, Aidan Hicks. There they raise beef cattle and grow barley. Patrick is obsessed with the garden they have created in what must be one of England's windiest sites and deeply resents the time his writing makes him spend away from working in it. As well as gardening, he plays both the modern and baroque cello. His chief extravagance in life is opera tickets.

Win 1 of 5 ecopies of "The Facts of Life" by Patrick Gale. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bookish Product Review: Jane's Tiny Things Magnetic Bookmarks (p2)

Hey guys!

You might recall the first time I posted about Jane's Tiny Things bookmarks few months ago. Today I'm back with round two of the feature and I have some absolutely marvelous new bookmarks to show you!

Over the past couple of years, I have become a self-proclaimed bookmark hoarder. I don't really use them - ha! They're way too pretty for that :D But I do collect them, because they're unique and bookish and just oh-so-lovely! And like I said before, out of all the Etsy stores, Jane's Little Things is probably the most unique, because her creations are hand-drawn and very different in style. AND - most importantly - they come with a quote on the back! How amazing is that?!

I love Jane's bookmarks so much, but they're not the only thing you can find in Jane's Tiny Things store. Jane also makes these amazing sets of hand-drawn nail decals, and I think the one with books and feathers is my favorite one by far!

Anyhoo! Without further ado, let's take a look at the new bookmarks in Jane's store - I have two sets of them to show you today! :)

The Night Court set 
     A super hot item right now (and, well, always!). I posted a photo of these on my Bookstagram and it got some crazy love, because HELLO, Rhysand and Feyre!

I really love these! They're so cute and unique, you guys! Jane did an amazing job drawing the characters yet again, and she picked great quotes for the back of the bookmarks, too!

The Rhysand one has our favorite ACOMAF quote: "To The Stars Who Listen and The Dreams That Are Answered." and Feyre says: "II was a Survivor, I was strong. I would not, could not be Broken." 

Baker Street Set - Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson 
The Sherlock and Watson bookmarks are right on point, you guys! So quirky and spot on with all the details!

The Sherlock one says: "To a Great Mind nothing is Little." and the Watson one says: "Good old Watson! You are the one Fixed Point in a  Changing Age."  Again, Jane picked awesome quotes. I love taking photos of these, they go so well with my edition of Sherlock Holmes from Rock Paper Scissors!

All the bookmarks in Jane's store can be purchased separately, or in a set. The single bookmarks cost $4 and if you buy them as a set it's $7 for 2 bookmark set and $10.50 for 3 bookmark set. Some of them are very popular and already on back order! And no wonder, really, because they're gorgeous and so unique!

And if you'd like to stock up on the sheer awesomeness, use code: EVIEBOOKISH to get 15% off!
About Jane's Tiny Things:

Fun magnetic bookmarks featuring illustrated versions of your favorite characters!
Each set has enough to collect - buy them individually or grab the entire collection for a discount.
Bookmarks are $4 each, or $3.50 each when you purchase the whole set.
Full color prints on thick semi-gloss paper.
Each bookmark features a hand-lettered quote on the back.

Find Jane's Tiny Things online:
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Etsy 
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