Ohhhhhhhhh, We’re Halfway There… Second Quarter Reads

Link Round Up

I only read 11 books this quarter (April, May, June), which means that I’m two behind on my goal of 52 books for this year. I’d better catch up! I think my problem was that I only listened to two audiobooks this quarter. In the beginning of the year, I was better about always having one going in the car. It is much more preferable than the radio station surfing that I’ve been up to lately. On the plus side, I finished this post in time to link up with Janssen and Dana! Here’s what I read this quarter:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

It was scary to be inside the mind of a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but I thought it was handled beautifully. And the ending was just perfect. I also watched the movie, and I thought it was cast very well.

Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Lots of food for thought. Whenever I read a Malcolm Gladwell book, it’s like my husband is reading it too, because I talk his ear off about it.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes really has a way of developing beautiful, flawed characters that you want to root for. I loved the story, but I hated the ending. It was really unsatisfying. Maybe it was realistic, but when I read fiction I like for everything to work out in the end.

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

Memoir of a young women and her struggle with family, food, and finding herself. Sad at times, but it is real life. You can find more about her on her blog Can You Stay for Dinner?

Paper Towns by John Green

I didn’t really “get” this book. The plot seemed very far-fetched. I did enjoy the characters, though, and the road trip was fun to read about. I’ll probably see the movie, but I won’t pay to see it in the theater. I’ll wait for the DVD.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I don’t enjoy YA novels where the main character is a self-centered brat who thinks his or her parents are idiots. Lara Jean Song Covey is not such a character. She is shy and unsure of herself, and scared to drive instead of being excited to have her license. She reminded me of myself at that age. I really enjoyed this book, and I am looking forward to reading some of Jenny Han’s others.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

I’ve read a lot of Sarah Dessen’s books, and although I have enjoyed them all, I don’t absolutely love every single one. I absolutely loved this book. I was upset when it was over. Luckily, I am about halfway through her newest novel Saint Anything, and I am falling similarly head over heals for that one as well.

45 Pounds (More or Less) by Kelly Barson

I read this in an afternoon on our weekend trip to Lancaster. I wouldn’t call it a great book, but it kept my attention. A teenage girl makes peace with her body while trying to lose weight for her aunt’s wedding.

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena B. Miller

I learned a lot about how Amish families operate. Of course not everything can be put into practice by the average American family, but many of the ideas could. I enjoyed this.

The Guardian by Beverly Lewis

Cute, light-hearted. Great for the beach. I talked more about it here.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I loved visiting these characters again. An enjoyable read.

Join the link-up or read more of the entries here.

Beach Reads

We’re going to the beach on Friday! I’m so excited to be getting away that I have already started packing! One thing that’s always on my packing list is a stack of books to read on the beach. I know some of you prefer your Kindle or iPad, but there’s just something about a stack of books that gets me excited about vacation and all the reading time that I’m going to have. My definition of a good beach read is anything that will hold my attention! I usually stick to fluffier stuff, but I have been known to read a more suspenseful novel (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) or something not so light and fluffy (The Fault in our Stars by John Green). Here are the books that I’ll be packing in by beach bag this year:

beach reads

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
I’ve read a lot of her books. Most recently I’ve finished The Truth About Forever, and I absolutely loved it. I’ve heard that some of her newer books haven’t been as good as she used to be, but this one is more like her old ones, if that makes sense.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
This is the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I really enjoyed. I hope this new one is just as good.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
I was looking for a chick lit book to bring along, and this one by the author of the Shopaholic series has gotten decent reviews.

The Guardian by Beverly Lewis
I haven’t read a lot of Amish fiction, but I pick up one every now and then, and I usually enjoy them. This one is not the typical Amish romance novel, but instead is about a young woman who is house-sitting for family in Lancaster when she stumbles upon a lost Amish girl who is about three years old. Since the little girl does not speak English, the young woman must do some searching to discover who the little girl belongs to and why she was left behind.

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena B. Miller
Noticing a pattern? It’s probably because we just got back from a weekend in Lancaster, but the Amish have always fascinated me, and I enjoy learning more about them and their way of life.

What’s on your summer reading list? Are there any books that you’d recommend for the beach?

Answer Me This!

Answer Me This summer

In honor of the (limited) return of Kendra’s link-up Answer Me This, I just had to join in. Here are my answers, and be sure to check out the others on the link-up!

1. Any big plans for the summer?

Well, this weekend was our 1st Anniversary, and we spent it in Lancaster. It was a little last minute, but it was so nice to go away with my hubby. And at the end of the month, we will be joining my family for our annual trip to Ocean City, NJ. Mostly is will be relaxing without any real excitement, but that’s why I love it.

In September we have two weddings to attend. My brother’s is the 12th and my cousin’s is the 26th (I guess that’s technically Fall, but, details). Since I’m in both of them, there will be a lot of preparations going on this summer.

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

I don’t know if it’s strange, but I believed in Santa Claus a lot longer than anyone else in my class did. I distinctly remember being in 3rd grade and arguing with one of the boys. My mom worked second shift at the time, and my reasoning was that she would be entirely too tired to put presents out at midnight when she got home.

3. What is your favorite amusement park ride? (can be a specific one at a specific park or just a type of ride)

I love those really big Ferris Wheels with the benches all around and an umbrella in the middle. Even though the height scares me a tiny bit, I love how calm and quiet it is, especially when you ride it at night, and how you can see the entire park and all the lights from above.

4. What’s on your summer reading list?

I just finished To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to reading the sequel when I get it from the library. I would also like to read Kristin Hannah’s new book The Nightingale, because I always enjoy her books. I also hope to check on or two more classic books off my bucket list and to read one or two autobiographies of saints. Suggestions are welcome!

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?

Not for more than a few seconds. I used to do it a lot after I was first married. I think it was just the adjustment of everything, and I had recently started a new job where my shift began at 5:30 am. I would sit at my desk in the morning and sometimes I literally could not keep my eyes open. One of my coworkers found me once and was like, “Are you pregnant?” I wasn’t. I was just tired.

6. What is your favorite smell?

My favorite smell is dinner cooking when I come home from work, because that means I didn’t have to make it 🙂

Thanks for reading. Be sure to link-up if you have a blog, or you can answer the questions in the comments below.

7 Quick Takes: My First Link-Up!

This is my first link-up! Joining with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes, because all the cool bloggers are doing it 😉

1. We finally planned a weekend getaway for our anniversary. We’ll be staying at a little Bed and Breakfast in Lancaster and doing some shopping and sightseeing. I can’t wait! You can see some pics of the place we are staying on their website.

2. I have been eating really crappy lately and I’m thinking of doing a cleanse. Not a juice cleanse or drinking any crazy stuff, but more like a Whole 30. Well, maybe a Whole 10. I just want to eat clean for a few days and avoid sugar, white flour, caffeine, and processed foods. I know I’ll feel better, but it takes planning, and I’m not sure if I have the motivation for that right now.

3. $1 Flip Flop Day is coming up at Old Navy in a couple weeks, and I’m so excited!! Every year I want to go and I never make it there. Maybe this year will be my year. I know it is probably insane, but I want to do it at least once. There are three within a 30 minute drive from me, I just need to decide which would be most likely to be the least crowded.

Many_flip_flops_on_a_rack

4. Reading Kathryn’s Disney recap posts makes me want to plan a family trip to Disney. It would be so nice to go with my husband’s family because (a) We only get to see them once or twice a year and (b) they actually have kids. Maybe next summer. And Hubby’s never been to Disney! (Except for Hollywood Studios once back when it was still MGM.) And it’s been about 10 years for me.

5. Any book suggestions are welcome. I’m looking for a book that I can get lost in. My criteria are (1) not too intense, (2) not too flowery/romantic, (3) not too long. I am having trouble getting into a new book. I just finished To All the Boys I Have Loved Before by Jenny Han, though, and I really enjoyed that one.

book-boys

6. The whole Duggar scandal has me really sad. Mostly because I really liked the show, and now I can’t watch it anymore.

7. Enjoy your weekend! Hubby and I both have to work a bit, but hopefully there will be time for relaxing, too!

First Quarter Reads

PicMonkey Collage

The first quarter of the year ended on March 31st. I had every intention of doing this post in the beginning of April and linking up with Janssen, but then life got in the way. Winter felt interminable to me this year, but now Spring seems to be flying by! Anywho, here are my first quarter reads. Maybe I’ll be able to finish my second quarter post in time to join the link-up. No promises, though. I feel like I got the year off to a good start with reading. My goal was one book per week, and I seem to be averaging that. I just need to do a better job of writing my reviews in a timely fashion. I don’t think I’ll be doing full reviews of every book, but I’ll definitely be highlighting my favorites. Here’s what I read from January to March:

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (full review here)
I really enjoyed this one, despite the supernatural stuff. Jodi Picoult at her best.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (full review here)
A quick read, though emotionally taxing. Great character development.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
I wasn’t a big fan of this one. Although I do believe in heaven, something about this story didn’t sit right with me. It felt forced. This family did go through an incredible ordeal, though, and I’m glad their son is okay. The one thing that I learned from this book is to take your child to a children’s hospital if at all possible, not necessarily the closest and most convenient hospital.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Very well-written but emotionally draining. I could only take this book is small chunks because of the subject matter. I’m working on a full review.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell
This book talked about why certain people end up being so much smarter or more successful than the rest of us. Think Steve Jobs, The Beatles, or a musical prodigy. He argues that not all success is related to hard work, sometimes it just means being born at the right place, in the right time, with the right set of advantages.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
When I was younger, I read Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech, and I really enjoyed it. That novel features a character introduced in Walk Two Moons, so I always wanted to read this one as well; I just never got around to it. When I was looking for an audiobook to listen to in my car, I spotted this one at the library and checked it out. I think that my younger self would have enjoyed this book a lot, and my adult self did as well.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Some people liked this better than If I Stay. I did not. It was okay. I was glad for the closure from the first novel, however. I’ve heard that the audiobook is really neat, because you can actually hear snippets of Adam’s music rather than just reading the lyrics. My recommendation is to listen to the audiobook if you choose to read this.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Two re-reads. Hubby was reading the series for the first time, and I needed to refresh my memory so that I could discuss it with him. After he finished each book, we watched the movies together, too.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
This was the first novel that I read by Jojo Moyes and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook, and I liked how each character’s perspective (it changed by chapter) was read by a different narrator.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
I have a list of “bucket list” classics that I never got around to reading or never had to read for school. It was great to finally cross this one off my list. I alternated between the audiobook and a paper version. Although I enjoyed it, it felt very long. After I read it, I re-watched the film version from the 1990s. It’s one of my favorites. I tried to watch the film version from the 1930s, but Katharine Hepburn’s portrayal of Jo got on my nerves. Also, except for the actress playing Amy, they all seemed to be entirely too old to be playing teenage characters.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
This is a middle-level children’s novel about students in a sixth grade classroom and their experience with their teacher that year. The novel changes point of view quite often, and it is interesting to see how the various characters experienced the events throughout the year, and how they are changed by them. I think this would be a great novel for 5th graders and up. I listened to the audiobook version and thought the narration was great.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch by Jennifer Reese
An interesting read. The author took the time to make from scratch everything from english muffins, to bacon, and even maraschino cherries. She then breaks down the price of store-bought vs. homemade to make a judgement as to whether it’s better to buy it or make it yourself. Although I appreciated some of the recipes and it was an interesting read, there is no way that I’d ever make my own bacon, or some of the other things in this book, no matter how much money it would save me.

What have you read so far this year that you’ve enjoyed?

Right Now I’m…

(Stolen from Bonnie…)

loving…

The weather we’re having. It’s finally Spring for realz! I’ve tried to be outside as much as I possibly can, and I’ve taken two walks on the Perkiomen Trail so far this week. Beautiful.

Oh, and 99 cent iced coffee refills at Dunkin. I may have a problem.

reading…

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I just finished this one. I thought it was a well-written and entertaining book, but I was not a fan of the ending. I liked her novel One Plus One a lot better. Because of this, I will probably give one of her other novels a try in the future.

Paper Towns by John Green. I’m not loving it as much as The Fault in Our Stars, but how can you compete with that? I’m curious to see how it ends and to see the movie adaptation that is coming out this summer.

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. I just started this one last night.

Bonnie’s blog from the beginning. Does anyone else do this? I’m like a madwoman when I find a new blog that I love.

excited about…

Going to the symphony with hubby. It sounds so snobby to say that, but I love it. We got free tickets because he gave a lecture. I love free stuff!

Our 1st Anniversary coming up June 14th! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Time flies when you’re having fun. We don’t have any big plans yet, but I am looking forward to eating our frozen wedding cake and reading the notes that people wrote us.

wed

Our Ocean City, NJ family vacation at the end of June. It’s always such a fun, relaxing week.

planning

A weekend getaway. Hopefully, if we can figure out where we want to go. We’re thinking Rehoboth Beach, Lancaster, St. Michael’s, MD, or some place else within an hour or two drive. Thoughts or suggestions?

blog-loving

Jenny’s series for Infertility Awareness Week last week.

Sally’s baking tips. And pretty much any recipe she posts.

Just about everything posted by Jessica, Caitlin, Kendra, Kate, or Janssen.

watching

19 Kids and Counting. Don’t judge.

Big Bang Theory

How have you been spending your time lately?

Review of If I Stay

I’m still playing catch-up. Here’s review #2:

if i stay

I wish I would have written this review before I saw the movie, but I’ll try my best to separate the two in my mind. In the story, the main character Mia is a senior in highschool and at a major crossroads in her life. She is a classical cellist waiting to see if she was accepted into Julliard for next year while also trying to figure out if she and her boyfriend of 2 years would be able to continue their relationship from opposite sides of the country.

The book opens on a surprise snow day. There is enough snow to cancel school, giving Mia, her younger brother Teddy, and her teacher dad the day off, but not quite enough to keep them all stuck inside for the day. After her mom calls out of work, the family begins to plan a spontaneous trip to visit friends and family out of town. The trip takes a tragic turn, however, when the family is involved in a car accident. Her parents are both killed, while she and Teddy barely cling to life, but Mia is somehow able to observe the aftermath.

Frustrated that no one seems to be able to see or hear her, Mia follows her body to the hospital and observes the staff working to save her, as well as her family and friends who are waiting to hear news about her and Teddy. She begins to realize that she has a choice: she can choose to live or to join her parents in death. As she struggles to decide, she reflects on memorable times during her life, especially during the past year, and the reader gets a better understanding of her character, as well as those of her family and friends through these memories.

Although this book short and easy (easy in vocabulary, not necessarily in subject matter), I did enjoy it, and it did make me ponder what I would choose if I were in Mia’s shoes. I will caution you that the end, although not a cliffhanger, is abrupt and does leave the reader wanting more. However, there is a sequel, which I’ve heard from some friends is more enjoyable than this first novel, so you can always read on if you enjoy it like I did.

As far as film adaptations go, I thought this one was spot on. Although it wasn’t exactly like the book (they never are), I think it hit all the major plot elements. I loved the way the family was cast and their chemistry on screen. It really made my heart break for Mia even more than it did when I read the book to see all that she had lost.

This novel brings me back to my junior high days when I went through a period of reading quite a few novels with the theme of death and dying. Think Lurlene McDaniel. Anyone remember her? I know my dad worried about me a lot, but I just got on a kick. Then I moved on to horror books and then romance novels. I was a big reader then, and I still am today, although with less time to do it.

What books did you enjoy in your youth? Were there any interesting genres that you tried?

Review of Leaving Time

So, if i’m going to get 52 reviews up by the end of the year, I’d better get going. I’m already behind! Here’s #1:

leaving-time-300h

The first book that I read this year was Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.

Several years ago I went on a Jodi Picoult kick and read a bunch of her books in a row. Although I enjoyed them, I kind of got burned out after awhile. She explores some heavy issues, and reading several of her novels in a row can be emotionally draining.

This one wasn’t as heavy as some of her others, so that was a plus. There was a lot of information about elephants, which might turn off some readers, but I found it interesting.

The main character of the book, Jenna Metcalf, is trying to find her mother Alice, who disappeared when Jenna was three years old after an accident that occurred on the elephant preserve that her parents owned. A woman who worked on the preserve was trampled and killed, and Alice was injured. She was taken to the hospital, but she signed herself out the next day and hasn’t been heard from since.

Together with a washed-up psychic and a sometimes drunk cop turned private investigator, Jenna sets out to find the truth about what happened to her mother 12 years ago. She ends up discovering more than she ever imagined.

I really enjoyed this book, and without giving too much away, the ending took me by surprise. So much so that I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me, and I was angry at first. I think I was angry that I didn’t see it coming. I like to try to guess the ending, but I sometimes get disappointed when I am right, because then it’s too easy.

Before this book, I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I saw the ending of that one coming a mile away. I was so disappointed when I figured it out so quickly, that I just didn’t appreciate the second half of the book as much. I was bored.

This book did not bore me. It kept me guessing. That it was Jodi Picoult is such a master storyteller. She keeps you guessing until the end, then she knocks the wind out of you.

Has anyone else read this? What did you think?

Resolutions and such

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Hello everyone!

My resolutions this year were to read and write more, so hopefully this blog will be a way to combine the two. I was planning to read a book a week (52 total), and I’m already on number 4, so it’s going well so far! I thought I would post a book review each week, and maybe see what some others thought of the same books. I’m open to suggestions of what to read, too, so fire away!

I’m hoping to get my first review up by Sunday for Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, which I loved! Check out my Goodreads widget on the side to see what I’m reading next. I’m going to try to read a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and hopefully a few classics that I never got to read in my youth. We’ll see how it goes. I hope you’ll stick around, beacuse there are good things coming! Leave me a note to let me know you stopped by.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, what was yours this year?

Are you reading anything good?