Book Review x 6

Below is a brief recount of six books I have read over the past few months. I would absolutely love to hear if you have previously read any of them and what your thoughts were! And even more so, I would love new book recommendations (I think this one is next)! Looking for more recommendations? View past book reviews here.

Book_Review

Looking for Alaska by John Green: Miles “Pudge” Halter lead a boring life, craving “the Great Perhaps”. When he meets the clever, sexy, screwed up, and fascinating Alaska Young at Culver Creek Boarding School she pulls him into the Great Perhaps and nothing will ever be the same after. After reading John Green’s most famous book, The Fault in Our Stars, I immediately reached for this one, which I think is a million times better than it’s more well-known counterpart.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: In the middle of the most important meeting of her career, Kate receives a phone call from her daughter’s school; she’s been caught cheating and consequently is being suspended immediately. By the time Kate arrives at Amelia’s school, her stress turns to grief when she is greeted by firetrucks and police cars and the shocking fact that her daughter Amelia is dead. After months coping with the thought of Amelia jumping to her death, Kate receives an anonymous text: Amelia didn’t jump. If you loved Gone Girl and Gossip Girl, you’ll love this.

The Racketeer by John Grisham: The fifth federal judge in the history of the United States has just been found murdered in his remote cabin with his young secretary and an emptied safe. Malcolm Bannister, currently residing in a Federal Prison, knows who killed Judge Fawcett, but all information comes at a price and Malcom Bannister, aka the Racketeer, has his. A fast-paced, whodunit with enough twists and turns to keep everyone guessing.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: At the age of seven, Libby Day survived the murders of her mother and two sisters and testified that her fifteen year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes finds Libby and offers to pay her money for details in hopes of finally setting Ben free. Through Libby’s search the unimaginable truth emerges and lands her back where she started – on the run from a killer. Completely disturbing and haunting (much more so than Gone Girl).

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai: The biography of the girl who was shot by the Taliban and awarded the Noble Peace Prize for her outspoken fight for equal education worldwide. Recounting her family’s history in part one was extremely daunting. The brief overviews of the country’s history and the countless names in part two were subsequently under and overwhelming. However, the final three parts that told the story of her fight for education rights and her life held my attention much better due to my ability to connect her words with the recent accounts on the news that I was already familiar with. Although the slow start is a struggle, Malala’s life is beyond inspiring and a great reminder to each of us to fight for the rights of others and our beliefs because one person can make a difference.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed: Following the death of her mother, a divorce, and a run of reckless behavior, 26 year-old Cheryl Strayed finds her inexperienced self alone on the Pacific Crest Trail hoping to figure out her life. As a woman who also has felt (feels) lost and confused and turned to travel as a path to the discovery of answers to personal struggles, I found this book extremely relatable and hopeful. Justin and I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at an REI event and found her even more impactful in person. Looking forward to seeing the movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

 

October Highlights + November Goals

October was an exciting, busy month consisting of lots of visitors, moving into a larger apartment, and fall arriving. There was something about the change of seasons that not only brought cooler weather and colorful trees but also a change of direction, attitude, and purpose. I’m thrilled to finally be succumbing to my need for a creative outlet and be back in the world of blogging. Happy November everyone.

1. Update 2014 scrapbook through October
2. Mail one just because care package (brother)
3. Finalize and order Christmas cards
4. Sign up for an instructional class (i.e. cake decorating, sewing, flower arranging)
5. Implement a daily vitamin regimen
6. Get sweaty at least two times a week (8/8)
7. Attempt Hummingbird Bakery’s Apple Pie recipe (recipe coming soon!)
8. Plan a two-day getaway to Vancouver to see this guy perform (would love suggestions)
9. Setup the 30th birthday savings account for completing this list
10. Weed through workout clothes and the closet to donate items to Goodwill

October Highlights1. The ironic colors of Lake Blanca
2. Considering my dad has been proudly sporting the salt and pepper look since his 20s, the need for this product was inevitable
3. By purchasing an indoor plant light we have officially been deemed true Seattleites
4. The easiest farmer’s market outfit and my go-to as of late (scarf/bag)
5. My three favorites playing at our favorite park
6. Celebrating Oktoberfest in the cutest town

April Highlights + May Goals

With my work load picking up, a trip planned at the end of the month, and my less than perfect track record with these monthly goals, I decided to scale down my expectations for myself this month so I can focus on the rare downtime and bask in the fun. Happy May!!

May Goals:
1. Frame four pictures (one from this fundraiser)
2. Run in my first COLOR RUN!
3. Take the two West-E Elementary Education teaching tests (scheduled for July)
4. Send another just because care package
5. Finalize San Francisco plans and cross #78 off my list
6. Update 2014 scrapbook and start/finish China pages
7. Run/workout three times a week (5/12)
8. Blog post at least three times a week (0/12)

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April Highlights:
1. Trying to decide if I need this romper?
2. We kicked off our kickball season last month and are currently 2-0 #winning
3. Runs are made more enjoyable when you have a view like this
4. Our sidewalks are covered by this deliciously smelling, pink gorgeousness
5. Basically fly-fishing experts now
6. CHICKENS running free in our city neighborhood! Talk about free range!
7. Gasworks Park – the perfect view of downtown with room for the girls to run while we picnic
8. #thatpnwbridge that is becoming #instifamous and is super creepy
9. Friday night bowling sessions with new friends

Book Review x 6

My heart is happy when I am all consumed by a great book.

Traveling for ten months automatically disconnects you from time sucking activities like television and reconnects you with exploring, whether it be a city, literature, or history. We have attempted to maintain our detachment from TV (aided by our lack of cable) and our attachment to reading and exploring by allowing ourselves full nights dedicated to playtime at the park with the girls, long walks, and time spent cuddled up in a mound of blankets engrossed in our current books. Last night was one of those nights (I finished this and immediately started this). Here are some of my latest reads that had me reflecting on the past, future and my morals, while others were the perfect lighthearted escape from life. Have you read anything great lately? I am in dire need of some great book recommendations!!

20140423-145343.jpg The New American Road Trip Mixtape: Post breakup, Brendan hits the open road searching for healing and the meaning of life. Recommended to me by Justin, this book made me want to pack everything back up again and hit the road searching for the greater purpose of my life. A great book to get you thinking about your heart’s deeper desires and the purpose and destination of the road you are traveling on.

Orange is the New Black: Piper’s past catches up to her and lands her fifteen months in jail where she shares her attempts at navigating her new world behind bars. An easy, quick read that made me want to stay on this side of that barbed wire fence.

The Husband’s Secret: Imagine stumbling upon a letter written to you by your husband in the case of his death confessing his deepest, darkest secret that will change everything in everyone’s lives. That’s what happens to Cecelia while her husband is still alive…I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I’m a sucker for books featuring chapters from multiple character perspectives, each giving you a little more detail into the past, present, and future. You will not regret picking up this book as it is incredibly well written, keeps you engaged, and makes you reflect on how you would handle similar situations. Read it NOW.

Unbroken: A World War II Story: This story has sat on my Kindle since it gained popularity but for some unknown reason I never chose to start it, however, once I finally did, I was hooked. The unfathomable story of survival Louis Zamperini endured during World War II was heartwrenching, unbelievable, and powerful. Although I wish I wouldn’t have read this during my five flights to/from Nashville, I’m so glad I finally sat down to learn this story of such an incredible man.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: Bernadette, a wife and mother, suddenly disappears and her daughter, Bee, is determined to find out just where she went. Lighthearted, witty, and page turning.

Cartwheel: Based off the Amanda Knox trial, I was hoping this book would throw some curveballs and perhaps even end with the reader knowing for sure what happened, but in the end it was just like the real-life trial: no answers, lots of acquittals. At best I grudged through it, just trying to finish, hoping for something, anything. Definitely not one I would recommend.

March Highlights + April Goals

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Where does the time seriously go? No. Seriously. It is April people. Reflecting on my monthly goals has not been as uplifting as I first envisioned, but I am determined that will all change this month. I absolutely refuse to put any of these goals on May’s goal list so consider all the eleven goals below done and this will be me come April 30th otherwise I’m just giving up and going shopping and you’ll find me drowned in a pile of new clothes (not the worst way to go). What is on your April to-dosies list? Who wants to help keep each other accountable?

successApril Goals:
1. Send in my teaching application for the State of Washington and study for the West-E
2. Clean out my closet and organize jewelry, sunglasses, and handbags
3. Attend hot yoga at least three times (redo from Feb AND March – getting ridiculous) (1/3)
4. Finish Australia and New Zealand and update 2014 scrapbook pages
5. Bake a second recipe from this book (first one here)
6. Get sweaty at least three times a week (San Fran trip in 50 days) (11/12)
7. Participate in #100DaysHappy Instagram project (0/30) follow along here
8. Invest in a cute pair of non-running tennis shoes (would love suggestions)
9. Send one just because care package (#38 from this list)
10. Blog post at least twelve times this month (10/12)
11. Record all birthdays and anniversaries for the month of April and May

20140331-234758.jpgMarch Highlights:
1. With my mama at the Grand Ole Opry for our family vacation in Nashville
2. You have a puppy in a bar? You better believe it! Love how dog friendly Seattle is
3. Traveling to new places is always amazing, but being home is always sweeter
4. The epitome of cool I long to be
5. Family race day in Nashville for St. Patrick’s Day (did I mention my bro won?)
6. I have a weak spot for pretty things on sale
7. This wolf lecture from National Geographic changed my outlook on wolves forever
8. A cinnamon roll the size of my head is my fave
9. Can’t stop thinking about this mint wallet on a chain from here