Definitely Read This: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson

“That’s all any of us are, I think more or less screwed up, at any given moment. It’s all chaos.”

 

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

A forbidden attraction grows even more complicated when the guy Lane Jamison has crushed on for years suddenly becomes her step-brother in this sexy and gorgeously written debut novel about the lines between love, desire, and obsession.

 

Characters:

Lane: Lane is such a realistic and relatable character. The depth of her pain and trauma are so evident and beautifully written. As someone whose father committed suicide, I can attest from experience that Lane’s grief, her nightmares, her anxiety are all so well represented. I love to see her growth throughout the book and to see her get help, fight her demons and push past her shitty circumstances and past.

Connor: Another character who is so authentic. He is an artist with a giant heart who wants to help others and give them a safe space to create their masterpieces. The way that he takes care of Lane and tried to help her through her grief and overcome her trauma is beautiful. Especially when Connor himself is dealing with repercussions of his own upbringing and his own abuse and life as a homeless teen.

Grey: He wasn’t my favorite character in the story. While he did attempt several times to do the right thing and stay away from Lane and be fair to Sadie. His treatment of Connor in various parts of the story kind of turned me off to him. But I do believe that him and Sadie were in a toxic relationship and would not have worked out so I am glad that Grey put his dreams first and ended with Sadie.

Sadie: At first I really didn’t like Sadie. She is written at the type of person who gives Christians and “religious” people a bad name. She is judgmental and abrasive and argumentative and expects those around her to follow suit with her religious beliefs regardless of their own. But, towards the end of the story we get a quick glimpse of what Sadie’s home life could really be like and the abuse that she may herself be suffering. I do wish that that aspect of the story had been delved into a little deeper.

 

“Before I set fire to everything between us, letting it spark and scorch and devour us both. Until there is nothing left in the world to burn.”

 

Plot:

 Together We Caught Fire is the most extreme version of a slow burn romance that I have ever read. I am so glad that the romance in this went the way that it did. These characters needed time to be apart, to work on themselves and all of their issues. This story is about a girl who has seen horrific things that no person should every have to, about a group of friends who are coming of age, who are learning to deal with the after effects of trauma, grief, abuse, and love. I love that Gibson dropped these characters into such difficult and raw places but didn’t allow them to stay there. She perfectly embodies the notion of “It’s ok to not be ok, but it isn’t ok to stay that way.” Life is hard, life can be horrible but in the end no one can brings us up out of those depths but ourselves.

 

My opinion:

This book is an emotional roller coaster; one page it is funny and the characters are witty and snarky and the next it is deep and raw and so eloquent and beautifully written. I absolutely loved this.

 

 

 

Maybe Read This: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

“My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways.”

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 

Characters:

Alice:

Alice is a fucked up character, to put it bluntly. She has extraordinary anger issues, violent outbursts and is very selfish. BUT! For me those character flaws kind of made sense when you out her role within the Hazel Wood. Those traits spill over and follow her into the “real world”. Let’s face it, no one is perfect to begin with but then when you add in Alice’s “heritage” of course she is going to be fucked-up. Did I love her character? No. But I kind of understood it.

 

Ella:

I was really disappointed in the fact that Ella had so little face time within the story. She seemed more interesting to me and more developed as a character then Alice did. I wish we could have seen more of her.

 

Finch:

Finch also gets sort of eliminated from the story early on and never really makes it into the Hazel Wood in a way that we can see. The most interesting characters to me were eliminated from the story early on.

 

Plot:

The whole first part of this story is told in NYC before it actually gets to the “fantasy” part of the story which I wasn’t expecting. I would have liked it much better if more of the fantasy element had been included.

The best part of this book were by far the snippets of “fairytale” that we got from Althea’s book. Melissa Albert needs to just turn these into a collection of short stories because those were well thought out and scary.

 

My opinion:

Over all I don’t think that the book was horrible. I am actually currently reading the sequel. But, I do think that it could have been shorter and have the same overall ending, it didn’t need to be quite so dragged out. But, it was good. (Not great)

Best Book of Each Month in 2019

The are so many “best of” and “worst of” posts going around this month so I thought I would throw my own opinions into the ring, with a little bit of twist. Instead of just listing out X number of best books for the year, I am going to go through my reading list for each month of 2019 and select the best book (in my opinion) from that month.

 

January

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Honestly, this book was so beautifully and lyrically written. I listened to it in audio-book format and it is just beautiful. It’s so lyrical that the words just flow and it is so easy to imagine and fall into this world. I would highly recommend the audio-book of this story. BUT! You also need to purchase a hard copy because the cover of this book is just absolutely gorgeous.

 

February

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This one was hard because I read so many great books in February. But how could I not pick The Nightingale? Kristin Hannah’s writing is just unparalleled. She weaves such a beautiful and heart-breaking, yet inspiring tale.

 

March

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I know that this series is highly controversial; people in the book community either love it or hate it. And I have to say that I (obviously) love it. I went into this completely blind; I was a quarter of the way through the book before I even realized that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I just love Sarah J Maas’ world-building and character writing. I loved this series so much that I read the whole series again in the Fall and bought a special set.

 

 

April

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I honestly don’t think that I could pick a book from 2019 with better world building. The amount of depth and layering and detail that Astrid Scholte was able to put into a stand alone book is just amazing. She was able to weave and string together such a beautiful and rich world within only 413 pages. This story was so intriguing and it just pulls you right into Quadara, I couldn’t put it down. And don’t get me started on the gorgeous cover.

 

May

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This book was the Book of the Month Book of the Year as well as Good Reads choice for best Historical Fiction. This book had me hooked from the beginning. It is such an interesting format to have it written in the form of interviews and it just kept me interested the whole way through. If you are a music fan or a fan of the 60s and 70s era then I highly suggest you pick this book up. And don’t get me started on the quotes from this book; the writing is just spectacular. But, then again it is Taylor Jenkins Reid so did we really expect anything less?

 

June

I have a tie for this month! Honestly, I could not pick.

 

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Another TJR book of perfection. First of all the representation in this book is just off the charts:  you’ve got bi rep, gay rep, lesbian rep, a Cuban woman, and a biracial woman. Whatever you think this book is, it isn’t. It will surpass every expectation that you could possibly have for it. This is high  up on my list of favorite books of 2019.

 

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There was no way that I could leave Scythe off of this list. This series is so eloquently and intellectually written; Neal Shusterman is nothing short of a genius. I went into this relatively blind and boy did it pay off. The Arc of the Scythe series was one of my favorites series of 2019.

 

 

July

 

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Another beautiful story from Kristin Hannah. This was another fascinating, thought-provoking, and captivating read. Heartbreaking at times… but there were also moments of great love and unbelievable kindness. A gripping story where I was desperate to know what was going to happen next. A bittersweet but satisfying ending topped off this amazing read.

 

 

August

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This was probably my favorite book in the ACOTAR series. I love seeing Feyre grow and come into herself and her relationship with Rhys grow and develop. Feyre is pulled from a horrible, hellish situation with Tamlin into this beautiful family unit who loves her and gives her the space she needs to breathe and heal.

 

September

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I read a lot of good books in September but this was by far my favorite.  I read this in audio-book format but I know that I will be purchasing a hard copy so that I can annotate it. This book has such beautiful, poignant writing and I know that there will be so many  quotable phrases and passages. As a woman with Cuban heritage I love that this is an own voices book inspired by the author’s own Cuban heritage.

 

October

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I really enjoyed this movie so I knew that I would like the book. But, this so surpassed my expectations. Mark Watney is one of the most sarcastic, witty, and smart ass characters that I have ever read and I loved every second of this.

 

November

Again, there was no way that I could pick just one book for November.

 

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I can’t believe that I waited so long to read this book. It was everything I had heard it was and so much more. It is witty, it is hilarious, it is sarcastic and most importantly it is a beautiful picture of what our country, and more importantly the world, could be. This book brings so much hope and is so important for where our society currently stands and what we are on the brink of. 

 

Becoming

This may literally be my favorite books of 2019. I didn’t think that I could respect and admire Michelle Obama any more then I already did but this book just took it to a whole new level. I listened to the audio-book of this and hearing her story in her own words, her own voice was just perfect. Michelle is so well spoken and eloquent and just a genuinely good and kind person. It also obviously struck a cord with me hearing about her and Barack’s infertility struggles. This book just hit so many heart strings and made me feel so hopeful for what our country could be, I definitely plan on re-reading this in 2020. 

 

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)

I have every intention of buying this set in 2020 and giving these a re-read because I did not love the first two books in the series before I got to QoN. The Cruel Prince made me really uncomfortable and angry with it’s bullying scenes and the way that Jude was treated and honestly I found it hard to read. So I think that may have colored my opinion of it. The Wicked King was better but I still didn’t get the hype. But, The Queen of Nothing completely brought it back for me. I loved this book and I really want to go back and try the first two books again and annotate it. 

 

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

The writing and character development in this book is just beautiful. I went into this thinking that it was a story about a hockey team but this is so much more than that. This book deals with such heavy themes like bullying, small town mentality, poverty and class issues, glorification of athletes, and most importantly rape culture. I can tell you that I can’t think of another book that has ever made me as angry as this one. I have never had to put a book down and walk away because it made me so emotional until I read Bear Town. I cannot wait to read the sequel Us Against You. 

 

 

December

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I received an ARC of this through Net Galley and I went in pretty blind, without expecting much. I read Contemporaries and enjoy them for the most part. But, I am much more of a Fantasy and Dystopian type reader. But, this was so good. It was cute, funny, and witty but also had some heavy themes involving family dynamics and sibling relationships. It also had a bit of a Romeo and Juliet type vibe which I really liked. 

 

 

Surrender- Even When It Is Hard

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It has been so easy in the last couple of years to allow myself to worry, to overthink everything and to focus on all of the things that have not yet happened. 

It is so easy to wish that I could just fast-forward my life to the time when I will have all of the things that I want in life. 

I have struggled with focusing on all of the things that I don’t have instead of appreciating the things that I do. It has definitely gotten better over time but still each day is a conscientious choice to be positive, to be grateful and to have a good day. 

I don’t want to live my life constantly comparing and neglecting all of the blessings that I have been given. 

So over the past couple of years, I have learned to surrender. 

I can’t do everything on my own. I can’t rely on the people around me to fix things for me and I’m not the one in control. 

I need to remember who is in control, who I can rely on, who is faithful and who promises all for my good. 

I need to offer God my life, my desires, my wishes and my dreams. I need to let him have control and take over; every day and every night. He knows what is right for me. 

God has my heart and he will take care of it, protect it, and nurture it. He tells me to stop acting like I know what I am doing and where I am going. It is only Him, who has an understanding of my life and where it is going. 

My faith in Him needs to be stronger each and every day. 

I will continue to try to stop worrying so much about the things that I cannot control. I will no longer try to find answers to all the questions. I will never doubt Him when I am in the middle of my struggles. Instead, I will let my life unfold according to His plan. 

I will surrender. 

January 2020- TBR

December was a great reading year for me; I started off with a goal of reading 80 books. I ended up reading 110 books. Since I did so well in 2019, I upped my goal for 2020 and am hoping to read at least 100 books. This would average out to about 8-9 books a month. This seems like a feasible goal as my average last year was 10+ books per month. 

So here we go our first TBR of the new decade:

 

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

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She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

 

 

The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer

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In 1940, Varian Fry—a Harvard-educated American journalist—traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for thirteen months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall.

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls’ ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel’s hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to put down, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Orringer’s gifts as a novelist.
 

 

 

The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

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When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

 

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver 

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When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

 

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

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Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

 

Vengeful by VE Schwab

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The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab’s first adult novel.

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

 

The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar

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1941. Audrey Coltrane has always wanted to fly. It’s why she implored her father to teach her at the little airfield back home in Texas. It’s why she signed up to train military pilots in Hawaii when the war in Europe began. And it’s why she insists she is not interested in any dream-derailing romantic involvements, even with the disarming Lieutenant James Hart, who fast becomes a friend as treasured as the women she flies with. Then one fateful day, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly, nowhere feels safe.

To make everything she’s lost count for something, Audrey joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. The bonds she forms with her fellow pilots reignite a spark of hope in the face war, and–when James goes missing in action–give Audrey the strength to cross the front lines and fight not only for her country, but for the love she holds so dear.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

 

 

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

 

The Hazelwood by Melissa Albert

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 

 

Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

 

 

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

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When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and tge advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. 

 

 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

 

 

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

 

 

The Diviners by Libra Bray

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Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened. 

 

Lair of Dreams by Libra Bray

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The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

 

 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

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In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

 

 

 

Read This: Dread Nation

“My momma always said the best way to get what you want from people is to give them what they think they want. Sometimes you have to live down to people’s expectations, Kate.”

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

 

Characters:

Jane is the perfect main character for this story. She is brash, kick-ass, theatrical, and an unreliable narrator. The story is told from her point of view and she can definitely see things on a bias.

Kate is the perfect counterpart to Jane. A fierce and brave woman in her own right, she is the perfect person to balance out Jane’s abrasive and impulsive personality.

Plot:

The word building and layering of fact and fiction was done so well in this that even for a book about zombies nothing seemed too over the top or out of the realm of possibility. I have read so many books where things are taken to such an extreme that you can’t help thinking “this could never happen”. That is not the case with this book.

Justina Ireland was about to stick to the reality of the era enough to keep her story relevant and believable.

 

“See, the problem in this world ain’t sinners, or even the dead. It is men who will step on anyone who stands in the way of their pursuit of power.”- Dread Nation

 

My opinion:

As a lover of historical fiction, a book about zombies during the Reconstruction era, is right up my alley.

I don’t know if I could say this was my favorite book of this year but it’s definitely up there.

One of the things that I loved most about this book is how the author was about to take our world, our nation and its history and build a whole other fictional world on top of it. She was able to blend fiction with history so beautifully.

 

Would I recommend?

This book goes full throttle from beginning to end and keeps you enticed the whole time, even for a 450-page book.

I would definitely recommend this book and the sequel comes on February 4th and I am so excited for it!

 

Don’t Read This: Dead Girls Club

ARC provided by Crooked Lane Books through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Good Reads Synopsis:

 In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real–and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night–that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

Characters:

Heather: It’s not often that I read a book and avidly dislike a character. Usually I can find some kind of redeeming quality. But, Heather was just unlikable. She was selfish, irrational, naive and just made some really stupid decisions.

Ryan: I felt so bad for Heather’s husband. He tried so hard to help her and figure out what was going on with her and she just refused to let him in in any way.

 

Plot:

I felt like the story was just extremely dragged out and there were so many sub plots and side things happening that just weren’t necessary and didn’t do anything to further the story. This book would have been a lot better if about 20% of it had been edited out.

The two side characters (I don’t even remember their names) Becca and Heather’s two other friends, didn’t seem necessary to the story. The whole thing with Heather’s secretary looking for information about her cousin who committed suicide was unnecessary and the plot twist at the end just didn’t make sense.

The whole Red Lady thing just didn’t really make sense and I don’t know, I didn’t really get it. It was like the author couldn’t decide if they wanted the story to be more of a thriller or a paranormal type book.

 

My opinion:

Honestly, they synopsis of this book was better than the book itself. I’ve come to realize that I don’t like books where the main character is being stalked or haunted or bullied or whatever and they are absolutely adamant that they cant tell anyone. 

Like I just don’t understand that line of thinking. Someone is obviously stalking you or threatening you, you tell someone. 

 

Would I recommend? Why or why not?:

I don’t think that I would recommend this. It was just so disjointed and couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller pick up a Karin Slaughter book.

 

 

 

 

Disney Details- Hollywood Studios

Today we will be talking about my top favorite Disney details in Hollywood Studios.

If I am being honest, Hollywood Studios is probably my least favorite park. This park is  best known for the Hollywood Tower of Terror and if you have been around here for a while then you know that this is my least favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World.

On our honeymoon trip in May of 2015, my husband and I spent half a day in Hollywood Studios and ended up leaving to go to EPCOT. I think a big factor in that decision was that it was ridiculously hot outside and we made the poor decision of sitting through the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular…which is outside. (This is not a reflection on Indy which is a greats show).

But, I digress… back to our top details about Hollywood Studios.

 

I. Jedi Training Trials

Who wouldn’t want to train to be a Jedi ?!!

The process for this used to be a little bit different where children would be randomly selected from the audience. Now, you are actually able to sign up for this ahead of time AND get into the park early in order to get signed up and get your child ready.

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II. Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular

This secret is actually true for both the Indiana Jones show in HS and the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland. Both attractions feature a well or a pit in a dig site where there is a rope with a pulley that has a sign that says “Do not pull on the rope”. If you do in fact pull the rope you will hear voices from down below within the pit.

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III. Gertie The Dinosaur’s Foot Prints

For those of you who do not know. Gertie is the name of the giant dinosaur who occasionally sells ice cream in Hollywood Studios. And near the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, you can actually see (and follow) Gertie’s footprints into Echo Lake.

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IV. Door #22 Inside the Hollywood Tower of Terror

Anyone who is a fan will know that the Tower of Terror is chalk full of references to the tv show the Twilight Zone.

But, one locale showcases one episode specifically. When you are walking through the lobby of the hotel off to the side of the front desk there is a door with a sign that has the number 22 on it.

This sign correlates to episode 22 of the Twilight Zone.

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What are your favorite details in Hollywood Studios?

December- Reading Wrap Up

December was one of my best reading months of 2019, in part because of the cheesy holiday reads but still all in all it was a good month. I read 11 books for a total of 3,380 pages. As far as the star ratings go; I had no five star reads, six 4-star reads, three 3-star and two 2-star reads.

Let’s check them out below:

 

The Whole Fertility Life Plan by Kyra Phillips and Dr. Jamie Grifo: Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

 

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This book was super informative and had a ton of insight into readying yourself for a fertility journey. One of my goals this years is to read my non-fiction and this was a great way to start that. What I enjoyed most about this book is that it wasn’t preachy, ‘if you do this you for sure won’t ever get pregnant”. It openly and simply discusses a sensitive topic while providing options and optimism.

 

 

A Court if Frost and Starlight by Sarah J MaasImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“The weaver went on, “I have to create, or it was all for nothing. I have to create, or I will crumple up with despair and never leave my bed. I have to create because I have no other way of voicing this.” Her hand rested on her heart, and my eyes burned. “It is hard,” the weaver said, her stare never leaving mine, “and it hurts, but if I were to stop, if I were to let this loom or the spindle go silent …” She broke my gaze at last to look to her tapestry. “Then there would be no Hope shining in the Void.”

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This was a re-read for me and I have to say that I liked it less the second time around. I feel like it just ended abruptly and didn’t really resolve anything. I know there are more books coming but I feel like this should have been combined with one of those and made longer.

 

 

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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This story was super cute! (pun intended) I actually really enjoyed this and didn’t want to put it down. This is a light-hearted Contemporary YA with a much happier Romeo and Juliet feel.

 

 

The 13th Day of Christmas by Jason Wright: Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“The day to recommit to living a life more like His. The day to proclaim to the world that while His birth brought hope, His life brought the model. The day to believe that He lives, that He loves everyone, and that He wants every porch waver, rock pile climber, cancer patient, and troublemaker to come Home again. The 13th Day of Christmas.”

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This was such a touching, heart-warming story. I went into this expecting another cheesy holiday romance but that is not what this is at all.

 

 

One Day In December by Josie Silver:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“Despite the fairy-tale snowstorm out there, this isn’t Narnia. This is London, real life, where hearts get kicked and bruised and broken, but somehow they still keep beating.”

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There were parts about this book that I really enjoyed and parts that I really did not. I think Laurie made stupid decisions throughout the whole book and I honestly really didn’t like Jack. It also wasn’t necessary to drag this out over 10 years, it could have been done over 5 years and still had the same effect.

 

 

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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Although the end of this story was super predictable and obvious within the first chapter, I actually really enjoyed it.

 

 

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful the cage is. It’s still a prison.”

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Although I still feel like I am processing this one. I actually kind of think that I liked it more than the first book in the series. Girls of Paper and Fire was so overhyped and was not nearly as dark and violent as everyone made it seem.

 

 

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber: Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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This was your typical holiday Contemporary Romance. It was short and cute but nothing to write home about. 

 

 

The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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This was not my favorite book. It was obvious, predictable and a little too cheesy. The enemies to lovers trope was so over-looked and barely existent that it might as well have just been taken out of the book completely. 

 

 

Reverie by Ryan La Sala:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“Just because something is imagined doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.”

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The idea of this book is so interesting but I just did not love the delivery of it. It was so confusing at times and it was drawn out too long. 

 

 

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters:Image result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

ARC provided by Crooked Lane Books through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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The characters in this book were so hard to root for or like that it just kind of negated everything that happened. The plot twist at the end was unnecessary and the whole thing was just kind of disjointed and messy. 

 

 

 

Maybe Don’t Read This: Where She Went

“What was the difference between a person who was out of her mind with grief and exhaustion and a person who was just out of her mind?”

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

Her only daughter has just gone away to college, and Maggie O’Farrell knows she’s turning into one of those helicopter parents she used to mock. Worrying constantly, texting more than she should, even occasionally dropping by the campus “just to say hi.” But Maggie can’t shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen to Emma. And then, just as Maggie starts to relax, her daughter disappears.

The clues are disturbing. An empty dorm room where Emma was supposedly living. A mysterious boy described as Future Husband in her phone. Dorm mates who seem more sinister than friendly. As Maggie combs over the campus looking for signs of her daughter, she learns more about Emma’s life than she ever thought possible.

Characters:

I honestly, just had a hard time liking or caring about either of the main characters in this story. Maggie was just naive and stubborn. She insisted she was right even when the evidence that she was wrong was staring her in the face.

Emma just continued to make these stupid naiver decisions, that didn’t really get her any closer to her goal.

 

Plot:

The book wasn’t horrible until it got to the end. It just sort of ended with no real resolution and the whole reason that Emma went missing was just sort of dismissed and not even followed up on.

It wasn’t even like a cliffhanger it just stopped. It really didn’t make sense. There was no consequence or resolution to anything that happened. The ending just sort of negated everything that happened earlier.

 

My opinion:

Honestly, I think this book just tried and failed.

 

Would I recommend?

I don’t think that I would. If you’re looking for a thriller you’re much better off picking up a Karin Slaughter book.

 

 

Disney Details -Animal Kingdom

Today we will be looking at Four Disney Details from Animal Kingdom that you may or may not have already heard about.

I have always had a soft spot for Animal Kingdom. It may not necessarily be my favorite park but the older I get the more I appreciate it and the more I enjoy spending my time there.

So here we have it; Top 4 Details:

I. Secret Entrance: 

As you approach the turnstiles into the Animal Kingdom it appears as if this is the only path into the park. But, in fact, if you enter the Rainforest Cafe to your left there is actually a pathway from inside the restaurant into the park that will allow you to bypass the main entrance.

II. The “Xylobone”

Within Dinoland U.S.A you will find the Boneyard. This dinosaur dig-site is interesting enough on its own. But, what most people haven’t discovered is the instrument hidden within the walls of the Boneyard. There are a variety of bones buried within the area, just waiting to be discovered. But, there are also several embedded within the walls and if you find the right set and “beat” on them they will play various musical notes for you.

III. Paths Around the Tree of Life

Most people believe that the only way to get up close to the Tree of Life is through the queue for A Bug’s Life. But this is actually incorrect. There are a few set paths that will take you through and around the tree and will allow you to get a first-hand view of the over 300 hundred carvings all over the beautiful tree.

IV. Petroglyphs

There are “secret” paintings within the rocks when you are on your safari adventure. When embarking on your Kilimanjaro Safari you are so enthralled with animals around you that most of us are not paying attention to the rocks that we are driving past. But! If you do keep your eyes open and be alert you can catch sight of some ancient cave drawings.

2020 Word of the Year

” Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” – St. Jerome

 

My word for 2020 is BETTER. In 2020, I want to be and do better in all areas of my life.

This year I once again used Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review. I spent a couple of days reflecting back on the previous year and making a rough list of things that did not go well or could have gone better and then spent time looking to the future and how I want to correct those things in the coming year.

I chose many of the same categories as last year and re-prioritized or adjusted my goals for each category.

These categories were:

  • Marriage
  • Finances
  • Education
  • Faith
  • Social Life
  • Family
  • Self
  • Work
  • Health
  • Side-Hobbies

 

How can I better each of these areas in 2020:

Marriage: Better my marriage, become a better partner and spouse, use my husband’s love language(s)

Finances:Cruise paid off, credit cards paid down, build up savings, investments

Education: Begin classes at UNLV, finish Bachelor’s degree, read more non-fiction educational books, learn how to edit videos, use Skillshare

Faith: Bible Journal, read and study Bible every day, pray regularly, attend church, join a group, volunteer again, increase tithing amount, pray for those around me

Social Life:  Begin new friendships, grow and cultivate current friendships, do more things in a social setting

Self: Focus on self-care and being a better, more considerate person

Work:Grow within my job, promotion or new job, learn more about HR, raise, learn ADP, create a positive work environment, be kind to team members

Health: Lose weight, get stronger, go to the gym a few times a week. eat healthier

Side-Hobbies: Grow Instagram, grow the blog, collaborate on both, create and grow Youtube, post routinely, plan out posts, get Erin Condren notebook

Family:  Spend time with families, baby, adoption

 

 

Do you create a word or theme for the year? Do you set New Year’s resolutions?

 

 

12 Years of Nick and Jess

December 31, 2019 is our 12 year anniversary. I cannot believe that it has been this long; it seems like each year passes by quicker and quicker. We have been through a lot over the last 12 years but I pray to God for many more to come, filled with more good things and happiness than we can imagine.

 

                                 2008

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                                   2009

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                                    2010

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                                     2011

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                             2012

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                              2013

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                                  2014

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                                 2015

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                                    2016

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                                     2017

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                                  2018

Image may contain: Nick Graziano, smiling, standing, sky and outdoor Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

 

                                   2019

Image may contain: 2 people, including Nick Graziano, people smiling, mountain, sunglasses, sky, outdoor, closeup and nature

Read This: Across A Broken Shore

ARC provided by North Star Editions through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Thank you for recognizing all the beauty and intelligence in my child I was too broken to see. While I can never properly show you my gratitude, I hope you know that I will be eternally indebted to you for helping my daughter find her voice.”

Good Reads Synopsis:

The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.

 

Characters:

Willa- I’ve noticed that I tend to dislike characters who are people pleasers allow themselves to be bullied and pushed into things by their families. This is probably because I am a people pleaser at heart and I hate seeing that trait in others. So that alone made it hard for me to like Willa. She was a well written, strong female character. But, I let me own personal feelings cloud my opinion her a little.

Plot:

I did enjoy the historical setting of this book. I read a lot of historical fiction that tends to be set in Europe or New York City, so this was a good change of pace. Honestly, what I enjoyed more than anything in the book was the look at San Francisco and the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I enjoyed the medical and scientific aspects of the book and liked that. Willa had to be taught how to do things, her capabilities were realistic, she didn’t just suddenly know how to set a broken bone or stitch someone up.

Although it was heart wrenching, I do think the death in the story was a smart choice as it helped to move the characters along and helped Willa in her growth.

 

My opinion:

This book is strongly character driven and although the story itself was beautiful and well written, I did find that it was a bit repetitive. The majority of the book was Willa debating whether she should do what she wants or do what her parents want.

I think it is easy to introduce that and then move on with the story. I don’t need chapter after chapter of her debating. I think a lot of that could have been edited out and it still would have been impactful to the story.

I did enjoy the tidbits of historical information that you pick up along the way. For example, I didn’t know that when the Golden Gate was being built many of the citizens of San Francisco put up their own houses as collateral to help with funding for the bridge.

This story reminded me a lot of the show Call the Midwife. It is about a group of women after WWII who are midwives and travel around London delivering babies but this is the only type of medicine that they are able to practice.

 

Would I recommend? Why or why not?

I would recommend this book. It’s not the best historical fiction I’ve ever read but it was good.

 

 

 

End of Year Thoughts and Review

We’re already here–I cannot believe that it is already the end of December. This year has just flown by and I feel like I was just sharing my word for 2019.

Though there have been days and weeks this year that have left me feeling defeated and exhausted, this year has largely been one of growth and learning. My compassion for people in similar life situations has grown, my empathy has grown, my courage and faith have grown. My learning to trust and faith have grown immeasurably. I am so thankful.

My word for 2019 was CONTENTMENT. As I stated in my Word of the Year post, being happy and being content are two different things.

And while many of the things we had hope for this year did not happen and I may not have completed all of my goals; I have spent the majority of this year content and happy in the knowledge that everything happens for a reason, when and if God wills them.

I said last year that I was continuously finding myself obsessing about the past and/or the future. I never allowed myself to really be present in the moment and be thankful for what God has blessed me with.

I am happy to say that that has not been the case this year. Of course when you are on a fertility journey you have moment when you think about the future and all of the things that you are hoping for. But, I haven’t allowed myself to obsess over it.

Going into 2019 I knew that contentment wasn’t something that was just magically going to happen; it is an attitude, a choice, and a goal that I needed to work towards. While I haven’t completely succeeded and may not have reached all of my goals, I have made significant strides.

Here is a review of some of the areas that I wanted to grow and work in:

Marriage: Just like any other couple, we have good days and bad days. But, I can absolutely say that we have significantly more good then bad. The last couple of years we have gone through a lot and we are so blessed that we have been able to maintain a strong marriage throughout. Neither of us is perfect and we both make mistakes but we have grown a lot in 2019. We have learned to accept each others imperfections, to not have unrealistic expectations, and to give each other grace.

Grounded: This one was more for me personally. I have learned to not focus so much on the past and pray consistently over the here and now and over our future. At the end of 2018, I found myself obsessing over other people’s social medias which was leading to envy and discontentment. So in the beginning of the year, I deleted all of those accounts and began having social media free weekends. These weekends did not last long, especially as I joined and grew within the bookish community. But, it is something that I would like to implement again in the new year.

School: My main goal for school in 2019 was to finally finished my associated degree. Honestly, I hate even talking about getting this degree because of the ridiculous amount of time that it took me to get it. But, at the end of the day, I know it is an accomplishment an something to be proud of.

Faith: I am happy to say that I feel much more grounded in my faith this year than I did in 2018. Nick and I have grown a lot spiritually over the last year and I so hope this continue into 2020.

My biggest goal for myself in 2019 was to spend less time on social media and on my phone in general. I can’t say that I was very successful with this goal. But, it is something that I try to be mindful about and that I know I can work towards.

 

What were your goals for 2019 and how did you do with them? 

 

The Christmas Carol Book Tag

I have been looking for a cute, festive tag so when I saw this on another blog I knew that I wanted to do it.

 

                       YOU’RE A MEAN ONE, MR. GRINCH

                Name a villainous character you can’t help but love to hate.

“You may think gleaning is an acquired taste, but it’s not. The thrill of the hunt and the joy of the kill simmers in all of us. Bring it to the surface and then you’ll be the kind of scythe this world needs.”

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I can’t really say that I love Scythe Goddard but I definitely think that he was the perfect villain for this series. 

                    ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU

   What book do you most want to find under your Christmas tree this      year?

                                     A Court of Thorns and Roses Box Set

  I read this series twice this year and I absolutely love it. But, I don’t actually own hard copies of any of them. 

                        RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

           Name a favorite character that had to overcome a major obstacle.

 

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I am going to say Circe for this one. Circe overcomes so many obstacles and hurdles through out her story and so often has to navigate these things on her own. She learns and figures things out by herself and accomplishes so much with her own strength, powers and knowledge.

 

                    SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN

Which characters do you think are at the top of Santa’s “Naughty” and “Nice” list?

                                                  Nice List

One of my favorite characters that I have read about this year is Scythe Faraday from the Arc of a Scythe series. Yes, Scythe Faraday does kill people which would in normal circumstances put on the naughty list. But, within the realm of Mid Merica and the Scythedom, Scythe Faraday is one of the kindest and most humble scythes. He understands the importance of what he does and why he does it but he does not actually the killing and feels remorse. I think that within the scope of this series Scythe Faraday could be put on the nice list. 

 

                                           Naughty List

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This definitely goes to Rhiannon from Sweet Pea. This book was so original and vulgar and violent and laugh-out-loud funny. The major plot point of the book is the list that Rhiannon keeps in her mind… her kill list. From the man at the grocery checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have it coming, Rhiannon gets her revenge.

                                 FROSTY THE SNOWMAN

What book just melts your heart?

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This book is so witty, cute, and forward thinking. It brought me so much hope for what our world could be. I absolutely loved it. 

                                     FELIZ NAVIDAD

Your favorite book that takes place in a country other than your own.

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The Kite Runner is one of my all time favorite books and I try to read it at least once a year. 

         IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

What book do you read to get in the Christmas spirit?

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         I read the Chronicles of Narnia (specifically the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) EVERY Christmas!! 

                                              SLEIGH RIDE

What character would you most want to spend the holidays with?

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   Rhysand… need I say more? 

                                        BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

What book do you hate so much you would sacrifice it to the fire to stay warm?

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I like the idea of this book. But, the execution just kills me. It is sooo overly detailed! 

                            DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?  

What book would you recommend to everyone?

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This book was absolutely one of my favorites of the year. I just gifted it to my husband’s boss. 

How Far Into Debt are We Willing to Go to Have a Baby

Unfortunately, most infertility treatment and procedures are not covered by our health insurance and we have begun  to have the difficult discussion of how far into debt we are willing to go in order to have a baby.

We have already had to change our plans and pursue these treatments in Arizona instead of here in Las Vegas because of how expensive treatment is here. This has added the cost of hotel, gas, and food on top of the expense of the treatment itself. Not to mention, the use of our vacation time at work.

How Much Does IUI  Cost

Each time that we have an IUI cycle done at the fertility clinic in Arizona it costs just shy of $400. That is just the cost of the insemination itself, that does not include the cost of the ultrasound that must be done beforehand or the medication that must be taken.

In the grand scheme of things, $400 isn’t that much and is fairly reasonable. But, how many times are we willing to pay that (and everything else) before we accept that it just isn’t working?

How Much Does IVF Really Cost

These numbers can really differ depending on the state your in and the type of clinic or doctor you are seeing. Also, infertility clinics often only quote the cost for the IVF medical procedure, but don’t include the cost of medication, labs, exams, and additional appointments.

Also, increasingly infertility specialists recommend advanced procedures such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and embryonic genetic testing, which further add to the cost.

It isn’t unheard of for IVF to cost over $20,000.

For us, IVF would cost $13,000 for the initial egg retrieval and first IVF cycle. This would not include the cost of medication and additional appointments. Every cycle thereafter would cost about $1,000. Also, the cost of storage for the embryos is about $300 per month for the first 5 years.

Keep in mind that research suggests that patients should plan on three cycles of IVF to achieve success.

How Are People Paying for Infertility Treatment?

According to my research only about 20% of people going through infertility treatment have insurance that will cover IVF. The organization Creating a Family did a poll on how people pay for fertility treatment. The top four ways were as follows:

  1. Saving money
  2. Health Insurance
  3. Clinic Discount Programs/Bundled Packages/Money Back Policies
  4. Loans (home equity, family, 401K, credit cards)

Note that these methods are not mutually exclusive; in fact, most people used more than one of these means to pay for treatment.

The cost of private adoption

We began our adoption discussion with the hopes of adopting a new born through a private adoption. After some research and speaking to a couple of adoption agencies, we quickly realized that we had gone into this blindly, naively and with very little information.

We had no idea that private new born adoption is essentially a million dollar (if not more) business.

According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, working with a private agency to adopt a healthy newborn or baby or to adopt from another country can cost up to $40,000.

The cost of working with an attorney and not involving an agency may range from $8,000 to $40,000 and averages $10,000 to $15,000.

Not that we have anywhere near $40,000 just laying around. But, what really stopped us in our tracks when it came to private adoption was that when matched with a birth mother, most adoptive parents are asked to pay for the mother’s medical bills (and sometimes personal expenses) while pregnant. That part is understandable.

What is not understandable is that after paying for all of this treatment, doctors appointments and everything else; by law the birth mother still has 72 hours after the baby is born to change her mind and decide to keep the baby. And if that happens you don’t get any of that money back (or many times, the money that you have paid to the adoption agency).

We have read and heard horror stories of people losing tens of thousands of dollars. Even if we could come up with $30,000 we are not willing to take that risk.

 

So the Question is How Much Debt is Too Much?

I understand that (hopefully) in return for these large amounts of money you will be receiving a baby, a human life, which in theory should be priceless. But unfortunately in our world that isn’t the case… there is a very large price. And none of these options 100% guarantee a baby at the end.

Each person (couple) will have to decide for themselves how much debt is too much.

Some of the things that we have considered when having this discussion are:

  1. We will likely need more than one IVF cycle to achieve success.
  2. The stress of debt could have a negative impact on our emotions and stress on our marriage.
  3. Nick is a kidney transplant patient and will always have doctor bills and medications that need to be paid.
  4. We don’t want to be blessed with a child and then be so bogged down in debt that we now have a hard time giving that child the life it deserves.

Although we feel the pressure of time and the urgency to create our family, before we take on too much debt, it is necessary for us to slow down, consider all of our options and make sure that we are being responsible .

 

Happy Birthday to My Husband

Happy Birthday!

32 Years.

11,680 Days.

280,320 Hours.

That is how long you have graced this planet.

And I’ve only had 4,368 those days.

We have officially celebrated 12 of your birthdays together and I look forward to the next 50!

 

My wishes for you today and through out the next year–

I pray that God blesses you with His boundless love, calming peace and heavenly joy throughout the coming year.

I pray that the “good days” far outnumber any other kind of day you have.

I pray that you always have a reason to laugh.

I pray that you never give up on your dreams.

I pray that you recognize and feel the amount of love that surrounds you each day.

I pray that you truly know how much I appreciate all that you do for me.

I pray that the next year brings you more blessings and happiness then you could have ever hoped for.

 

Happy Happy Birthday, Handsome Hubby of Mine!

 

November- Reading Wrap Up

10 books read in the month of November for a total of 3,613 pages. As far as the quality of the books read, this may have been my best month all year, with 6 5-star reads.

Let’s check them out below:

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Across A Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

ARC provided by North Star Editions through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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“Thank you for recognizing all the beauty and intelligence in my child I was too broken to see. While I can never properly show you my gratitude, I hope you know that I will be eternally indebted to you for helping my daughter find her voice.”

The story is told from the perspective of eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy. In 1936, San Francisco Willa is the only daughter among four sons. Her parents expect her to take her vows and become a nun but Willa has other dreams.

This book is strongly character driven and although the story in itself was beautiful and well written, I did find it to be a bit repetitive by the end.

Where She Went by Kelly Simmons-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

ARC provided by Sourcebooks through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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“What was the difference between a person who was out of her mind with grief and exhaustion and a person who was just out of her mind?”

Maggie’s only daughter Emma has just gone away to college, and Maggie knows that she’s turning into one of those helicopter parents she used to mock. She is constantly worrying about Emma, texting more than she should, and even occasionally dropping by the college campus.  But as it turns out Maggie had a reason to worry when her daughter suddenly disappears.

There are so many sub-plots and alternating perspectives in this story that it was hard to keep up. Also, Maggie comes off as such a naive and clueless person. She refuses to accept the fact that her daughter has a job or that she could possibly have a boyfriend that she didn’t know about. The story was good up until the end. It just sort of ended with no real resolution or consequence. Nothing of substance really happened and it just sort of negated everything that had happened and made the whole mystery of the book pointless. 

 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne-     Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“Books were, and always would be, something a little magic and something to respect.”

This story is your typical enemies to lovers trope. But, this story takes place inside of a publishing house so what book nerd wouldn’t love that? What really made this story for me was the banter between Josh and Lucy. I gave this 4 stars because some of the “enemies” aspect of this were a little bit exaggerated in my opinion. 

 

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh-     Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“The things she wanted and the things expected of her were like oil and water in a baker’s mixing bowl.”

Honestly, I think this book has gotten more hype then it deserves. It wasn’t bad, I just think that it could have been better.  The setting in New Orleans was great, the world building was written perfectly, and Celine may be one of my favorite female characters of the year. But, all in all  I found the book to be a bit lackluster. I honestly can’t even remember how the book ended and I just read it a month ago. 

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same.”

This one has been on my TBR for a long time and it did not disappoint, it will definitely be on my favorites of 2019 list. 

I didn’t think I could admire and respect our former First Lady Michelle Obama any more than I already did.  In this book Michelle reveals even more of herself, her story, and her character; she is eloquent, strikingly honest and inspiring. 

In Becoming, Michelle recounts her childhood on the South Side of Chicago and her love and devotion for that city is evident in her words and in her voice as she shares her story. This book is so beautifully and eloquently written from the very first page, she begins her story with: “I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.”

This books touches on so many important topics: poverty, disability, illness, racism, classism, education, family, infertility, prejudice, judgment, politics, American history and so much more.

 

Educated by Tara Westover- Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self. You could call this self-hood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.”

Two amazing books in a row! This book is so dang good; it will make you cringe, make you cry, make you laugh, and make you so damn grateful for your own upbringing and childhood. This book moved me and I think it is such an important read. 

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black- Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“It’s you I love,” he says. “I’ve spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours.”

This is the only book in the trilogy that I have rated 5 stars. Honestly, before the Queen of Nothing I did not get the hype surrounding this series. But this book was everything. It gave me all.of.the.feels. And the quotes! This is also the only book in the series that I have been tempted to reread right after finishing it. 

 

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“The next slide is titled: ‘Exploring your sexuality: Healthy, but does it have to be with the Prince of England?’ She apologizes for not having time to come up with better titles. Alex actively wishes for the sweet release of death.”

This may just be my favorite book of the year. I laughed and giggled through the entire thing and the last chapter had me crying in my car in the parking lot of my workplace. The ending of this book leaves you with such a powerful amount of hope for what our country (and even more so the world) could be.  First off this book begins perfectly with Obama being succeeded by a democratic woman.  And it just get better from there.

Alex’s family in this book are just everything; both of his parents are so supportive and are always putting him and his sister first.  Also, the banter and one-liners woven throughout this story are just perfection.

I don’t think that I have ever read a contemporary that so effortlessly and clearly demonstrates the love and romance between the two main characters.

I could go on and on. Just writing this has made me want to go and reread the book.

 

Beartown by Fredrik Backman – Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“For the perpetrator, rape lasts just a matter of minutes. For the victim, it never stops.”

When I picked this book up, this was the last thing I was expecting. I went in expecting a light hearted book about a small-town hockey team and what I got was so much more than that. This book makes you feel every emotion possible. I can’t think of another book off the top of my head that has ever made me so angry and so ashamed of what our society has become. This book hits on many of the same topics as 12 Reasons Why; bullying, rape, rape culture, the pedestal that athletes are placed on, violence, suicide. This book was heartbreaking but still somehow beautiful. 

The Toll by Neal Shusterman – Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

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“I for one much rather live in a world where the surplus population can leave, rather than be denied it existence.” 

This was the month for the conclusion of series. The Toll is the 3rd and final book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. It.did,not.disappoint. I loved all 3 of the books in this series but this may have just been my favorite. Much like the sequel, this book takes you on a roller coaster and does not stop until the very end. I had many ideas of where this book could go, but the ending still took me completely by surprise. 

 

 

 

Our Fertility Journey… Update

It has been a long time since I posted on here. I have noticed that with each wave of hope and then the crash of disappointment the last thing that I want to do is discuss it. So I push this blog to the side until I have had time to process and come to terms with the next step in our journey.

The last time that I gave an update here, we were seeing a fertility specialist and I had just completed a bunch of testing.

Between May and mid July we had realized that we would not be able to continue this medical journey with a doctor in Nevada. The treatments here in Las Vegas are significantly more expensive than in other areas.

So through a recommendation we found a doctor in Tuscon Arizona who came highly recommended and who made it possible for my brother and sister in law to have our beautiful niece.

So in July Nick and I took a two day trip out to Phoenix and then on to Tuscon where we had out first round of Intrauterine Insemination done.

During our trip we had a couple of mishaps like having to change hotels and drive two hours from Tuscon back to Phoenix in the middle of the night. But, the procedure in and of itself went smoothly, painlessly and fairly quickly.

We were at the doctors office for about two hours but in that time the doctor did a complimentary ultrasound to check the amount of follicles that had been released and the actual procedure was done.

We went into this trip knowing that while these procedure can be successful the first time, it could in reality take a few tries.

I think the hard part for me in processing everything and moving on from an unsuccessful attempt was that in my mind it seemed like we were kind of coming full circle.

What I mean by that is that this trip was king of a trip down memory lane for us.

In 2012 Nick had a successful kidney transplant at the Mayo Clinic hospital in AZ, where he subsequently lived for nearly 6 weeks.

On this trip we stopped at the Mayo Clinic as a sort of “good luck charm”. We had been greatly blessed the last time we had been there with Nick’s transplant and hoped that this second trip to Arizona would be blessed as well.

Image may contain: indoor        Standing in the same waiting area where 7 years prior I had sat anxiously waiting and praying while Nick was in surgery  

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sky, sunglasses, outdoor and closeup                                         It felt so surreal to be back 7 years later. So thankful that we have not had reason to come back sooner and that this was only a visit, not a necessary stop

Image may contain: sky, house and outdoor                      Completely unintentionally and due to unforeseen complications we ended up staying at the same hotel where we had stayed 8 or 9 years prior during Nick’s original tour of and testing at the Mayo Clinic 

 

This obviously was not the case. While I am now, 4 months later, able to say that we weren’t meant to get pregnant at that time and that God has other plans for us, my feelings were not so back then.

After realizing that procedure had not been successful we had to figure out what we wanted to do next, try another round of IUI, move onto a different type of fertility treatment or look into other options.

In the months since we have been unable to make it back to Arizona because of work schedules, available vacation time etc.

As of now we are thinking things over, weighing all of our options and making tough decisions.

I’ll have another update soon.

 

Read This: Mr. Dickens And His Carol

Mr. Dickens And His Carol by Samantha SilvaImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“I am not haunted by ghosts, but by the monsters of ignorance, poverty, want! Not useless phantoms that frighten people into… inactivity. I do not abide by such nonsense.”

 

Synopsis: Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. And a serious bout of writer’s block sets in.

Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love. The story he writes will change Christmas forever.

 

Honestly, this book was good but a bit disappointing. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Dickensian novels so I was so excited to read this fictional novel about how that story came to be. But instead of focusing on that, it was a story about Charles Dickens’ life falling apart. There wasn’t even that much mention about A Christmas Carol. The book focused more on Dicken’s feelings for a woman other than his wife and how that woman and her child were his muses for A Christmas Carol.

This just could have been done so much better. I also read this shortly after reading The Afterlife of Holly Chase which is also a retelling of A Christmas Carol and that was so good that this just paled in comparison.

 

 

Read This: The Secret Letter

ARC provided by Bookouture through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

Germany, 1939: Thirteen-year-old Magda is devastated by the loss of her best friend, shy and gentle Lotte, cruelly snatched from her and sent to a concentration camp – the Star of David sewn on her faded, brown coat. As the Nazi’s power takes hold, Magda realizes she’s not like the other girls in her village – she hates the fanatical new rules of the Hitler Youth. So Magda secretly joins The White Rose movement and begins to rebel against the oppressive, frightening world around her.

But when an English RAF pilot lands in a field near Magda’s home she is faced with an impossible choice: to risk the lives of her family or to save a stranger and make a difference in the war she desperately wants to end.

England, 1939: Fifteen-year-old Imogen is torn from her family and evacuated to the Lake District, a haven of safety away from the war raging across Europe. All she has to connect her to the bombs and the battles are the letters she writes to her loved ones. Little does she know, on the other side of the enemy line, her fate rests on the actions of one girl who will change her life forever…

 

Characters:

Imogen 

Of the two main characters, Imogen was my least favorite. The one thing that I did not about Imogen’s storyline was that it reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia with the children being sent away to the countryside to keep them safe from the war. But, Imogen refused to see what was going on in front of her and steadfastly held onto her innocence and naivete. She lives with a nice couple in the countryside where she courts a boy and makes friends. She is then still looking for love with Freddie an RAF pilot and goes onto college. Her life doesn’t change all that much and she still gets to see it through.

 

Magda

Magda, on the other hand, has her whole life turned upside down. Being that she lives out in the countryside you would think that she would be less affected. But Magda’s best friend Lotte and her family are run out of town; she is forced to join the Women’s League in support of the Nazis and Hitler and is blackmailed and molested by a young officer.

Magda is smart enough and aware from the beginning that the Nazis are not to be believed or trusted.

 

Plot:

This book showcases so many of the horrors and atrocities that occurred during WW2.  We get to see how these two young girls manage to live and survive during this horrible time. This book encompasses so many of the different aspects of WW2 from the bombings of London, to the evacuation of children, the indoctrination of young German youth, the events at Dunkirk and so much more.

 

My opinion:

I have read several historical fictions lately and most of them having to do with WW2 and the Holocaust. This one holds up well in comparison to the others.

 

Would I recommend?

I would recommend this book I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

 

 

HIS PROMISE STILL STANDS… EVEN IN THE STRUGGLE OF INFERTILITY

You know that episode of Friends when Monica caters for Richard Burke and she and Phoebe talk to Richard about his divorce? Then he says that ever since his divorce everyone has this customary greeting for him?

No? Well here it is below.

 

But…It’s not beautiful right now. It’s depression, it’s loneliness, it’s a roller coaster of emotions, it’s heartache, it’s pain, it’s everything that I never thought I would ever go through. It’s watching everyone get pregnant around you & feeling left out. It’s a struggle to keep trying, a struggle to try and be happy, to stay busy, it’s a struggle to trust God through it all.

I try to remember that all of these struggles to grow our family will someday be looked back on in a beautiful light. That someday (hopefully soon) when I am sitting in a rocker with my sweet little babe this will all just be a distant memory.

The struggle will be beautiful and the wait will have been worth it when we see the Lord’s sweet plan. When He has answered our prayers in whatever way He sees fit, when we see his fulfilled promise whatever that may look like. When we get to hold a sweet baby and call them ours, when God reveals why we struggled for so long.

I know this struggle is just a part of our story. It is no different then any of the other hard parts of our story; Nick’s two years of dialysis or times of financial hardship. We got through those things and we will get through this too. The years, months, days, hours, minutes, & seconds of infertility it’s a part of the story.

All of the testing, doctor visits, tears, pain, & fear… all a part of the struggle that will one day be beautiful. The struggle will be worth the wait when we see why we had to wait.

We are all waiting for something, it may not be a baby for all of us but we are waiting for God’s promise & all of our struggles look different whether big or small. And through all of it God is writing our big story & through all of it we can remember that His promise still stands and He hasn’t failed us yet.

 

 

Graziano Life- Late May and June 2019

It’s been quite a long time since I have done one of these life updates so I figured it couldn’t hurt to throw one into the mix.

May and June were roller-coasters of months and pretty busy ones between work meeting, birthday celebrations and everything else.

May 2019

At the end of May Nick and I went on a trip with my work to Disneyland. This trip was a culmination of several months of hard work.

My coworker and I had been planning this trip since the beginning of the year. Between the two of us, we organized and conducted this trip with 3 charter buses full of nearly 200 people.

We had a great time and I hope to plan another trip in the future.

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June 2019

Week of June 2nd to June 9th 

On Saturday the 1st we went and saw Rocketman which was soo good! I didn’t think it was quite as good as Bohemian Rhapsody but it was definitely good.

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On Friday the 7th we had a great little date night at frozen yogurt place by our house. We ate Dole Whip and played dominoes.

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Week of June 10th to June 16th

June 10th was the 7th anniversary of Nick’s last kidney transplant. I am so thankful that God has blessed him with this many years of health and pray every morning that he grants him many more. Nick’s last kidney worked for him for 13 years, I pray every day that this one will give him decades more. 

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On June 13th I met up for lunch with my friend Marla, a fellow WDW Radio Box Person. We at my work for a mini WDW Radio Meet Up.

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I may be a little bit biased but we have THE cutest pups!

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With other things going on the timing for booking this wasn’t the best. But we had our placeholder to use.

And its something to look forward to. Can we skip ahead 15 months?!

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Week of June 17th to the 23rd 

June was a super busy month at work. Throughout the month I had All Team Member meetings, anniversary dinners, HR conferences, training, and to top it off a whole brand new HR system.

A lot of these things have trickled into July as well.

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Like I said BUSY. 

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On June 19th Nick’s car ended up in the shop so we carpooled to work

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After the business shown above all of the paper around my office was giving me anxiety so on this day I spent a good three hours getting everything cleaned and reorganized.

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Happy 30th Birthday to me!

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I ended up having to work a super long day on my birthday but it was alright because it was a beautiful event.

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I also came home to these beautiful flowers and card from Nick for my birthday.  

 

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In love with this beautiful basket, my mom gave me for my birthday. 

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We had dinner with my in-laws for my birthday and they gave me this candle and beautiful journal.

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Nick arranged a private tour of a lion habitat for my birthday…it was AMAZING!!

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And we had a yummy lunch at a Cuban restaurant in town

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We saw Toy Story 4 and I felt all of the emotions in the span of a couple of hours

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On Sunday the 23rd my mom took me for a great dinner and show to see O at the Bellagio

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June 26th through 30th 

 

My favorite show started back up

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I had to work several long 10-12 hour days in one week

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And at the end of the month, we got to babysit our beautiful niece

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June- Reading Wrap Up

10 books in one month!!! That is a great number of books for me. In June I read 7 new books; 2 ARCs and 1 re-read for a total of  3,963 pages read in the month. I also had 2 books that I DNF’d this month. DNF= Did Not Finish. In other words, these are books that I began but was not enjoying so I did not finish them. 

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

This was always the favorite of the Harry Potter books. I still remember sitting on the floor of my grand parent’s house reading this book and crying my eyes out when Harry found out that he did have family and then when he realized that he would no longer have to live with the Dursley’s… to then be let down.

 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.” 

This story was so interesting! The world of Scythe is so easily relatable to our own with their advances in technology and research. It is so easy to imagine how our future could so easily align with what happens in the book.

One of the things that I loved more about this story is the thought-provoking conversations that it produces. This is by far some of the best world building and character development that I have ever read.

 

The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“I’m under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you.” 

Taylor Jenkins Reid has done it again! This book was so freaking good!

This book is advertised as a historical romance about classic Hollywood actors and actresses. But it is so much more than that!  What this book is actually about is a bisexual, Cuban woman who was never allowed to talk about the love of her life; her wife.

This book gives such great insight into the secret lives of celebrities and the discrimination against women during that time period.

What I love about Jenkins Reid is that her books always cover and discuss such hard-hitting and relevant topics and that sad part is that so many of these things are still happening in our world today.

 

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Mass-     Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“She would tuck Sam into her heart, a bright light for her to take out whenever things were darkest.”

The last series that I read by Sarah J Maas was A Court of Thorns and Roses which I absolutely love.

I have heard some great things about this series as well. For me, these novellas were a little slow going and took a little while for me to get into but in the end, I did enjoy them overall.

 

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey-

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I had very high hopes for this book. Tom Hanks is probably one of my favorite actors ever and I love the movies that this book draws its inspiration from. I would watch these cheesy rom-coms every day if I could.

That being said, I think this book was just ok. I enjoyed the rom-com side of it but I really didn’t like the main character. She just made really stupid decisions and based her life on movies a little too much for any sane person.

 

The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate-

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ARC provided by Penguin Group Putnam through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This story has something for everyone; passion, love, heartbreak, murder, and betrayal. The pacing and timing of the story are excellent and the descriptions of the emotions of the characters are so lifelike. The song woven throughout the story is so well used that you forget that it isn’t a real song, it has such an impact on the story.

 

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang-

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“She didn’t know how to be semi-interested in something. She was either indifferent . . . or obsessed.” 

I had heard that this book was great but I loved it so much more than I had thought I would. The Kiss Quotient is a seriously sexy, fun book. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good adult romance and this was exactly what I needed.

This book is the perfect blend of sweet and sexy.

 

The Girl In The Woods by Patricia MacDonald-Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

ARC provided by Black Thorn through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I would absolutely recommend this book. It was the perfect mystery that I needed. It was an interesting easy read with the perfect amount of suspense and mystery without all of the gore.

 

 

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer- DNF

I had high hopes for this one as I have been reading a lot of historical fiction as of late but this one just didn’t do it for me.

The story switches back and forth between the present and two different timelines in the future and I just found that confusing.

I also didn’t really see a definite plot and so much of the story was over detailed and drawn out when not necessary. I just couldn’t finish this one.

 

The library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick-DNF

A book about a book and a librarian; I thought that this one would be perfect for me. But, much like The Age of Light I just found it to be overly descriptive and unnecessarily drawn out. And I just didn’t like the main character.

 

Read This: Little Girl’s Sleeping

ARC provided by Bookouture through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

An eight-year-old girl, Chelsea Compton, is missing in Pine Valley, California and for Detective Katie Scott it’s a cruel reminder of the friend who disappeared from summer camp twenty years ago. Unable to shake the memories, Katie vows she won’t rest until she discovers what happened to Chelsea.

But as Katie starts to investigate, the case reveals itself to be much bigger and more shocking than she feared. Hidden deep in the forest she unearths a makeshift cemetery: a row of graves, each with a brightly colored teddy bear.

Katie links the graves to a stack of missing-persons cases involving young girls—finding a pattern no one else has managed to see. Someone in Pine Valley has been taking the town’s daughters for years, and Katie is the only one who can stop them.

And then another little girl goes missing, snatched from the park near her home.

Katie’s still haunted by the friend she failed to protect, and she’ll do anything to stop the killer striking again—but can she find the little girl before it’s too late?

 

Characters: 

Katie has just arrived home in California after leaving the Army. She is suffering from anxiety and PTSD but is working through her problems with the help of her trusted service dog Cisco.  After returning home Katie goes to work for the local police department and stumbles upon a 5-year-old cold case that she is drawn to look into and solve.

In some moments Katie is portrayed as this bad-ass, take-no-crap female veteran but then in other moments, she is allowing herself to be walked all over by a jerk misogynistic detective. Also, some of her thought processes just didn’t make sense.

 

Plot:

This book is said to be in the thriller/mystery/crime genres and while the plot definitely fits those descriptions, I just wasn’t all that blown away by the mystery aspect of it.

 

My opinion:

I found a lot of it to be predictable and not very “thriller” like. After having read Karin Slaughter thrillers, this one just couldn’t hang,

 

Would I recommend? Why or why not?

This book wasn’t necessarily bad. I just didn’t think that it held up very well compared to other books in this genre that I have read.

 

 

Disney Dream Day 3- Castaway Cay

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Our Castaway Cay day was by far my favorite part of our whole cruise. I knew from pictures and videos beforehand that I would love Disney’s private island. But, I was blown away by just how beautiful it is.

Our view from our balcony as we pulled into the port was just breath-taking.

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Look how blue and gorgeous that water is!

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After a quick breakfast on the ship, we headed down to Deck 1 to disembark. It was so cool to get these new views of the beautiful ship.

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The welcome area of Castaway Cay was super cute with its tropical holiday decorations.

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I love how everything in Disney is intentional and comes full circle. I thought that it was such a fun little nod to the parks that they have the same trams escorting you to the different areas of the island… and the views are just spectacular.

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Once on the island, we hopped on one of those trams past the family beach over to the lagoon where we would have our Sting Ray excursion.

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The Sting Ray excursion was so much fun and absolutely worth the price. For $56 per each person 10 years old and up or $45 for children ages 5 to 9, you are able to spend 1 hour in the lagoon with the stingrays as a private excursion.

At the beginning of the hour, they give each person a life vest and snorkel gear and do a brief instructional on how to use the equipment.

Everyone then heads into the water to two feeding stations where a cast member hands out food for you to feed the stingrays. This lasts about 15 minutes and then the “free swim” begins.

During this time you are free to explore the lagoon on your own and there are 40+ stingrays in the water with you at this time.

The lagoon is gorgeous, the water is crystal clear and you get beautiful views of the ship from this location.

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The black spots that you see in the water are all of the stingrays.

 

After our excursion, we took some time exploring the shops around the island before taking the tram to Serenity Bay which is the adults only side of the island.

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When arriving at Serenity Bay the tram drops you off at Cookies Too which is the bbq area. In this area, lunch is served from 11:30am to 2pm and includes a variety of delicious foods.

Castaway Cay was by far our favorite part of the island!

July- To Be Read

This month I am going to be doing things a bit differently in terms of deciding what I will be reading. In July my reading is going to be broken up into four different categories: ARC’s, Bookish Bingo, Extras and Book Club. The total number of books for these three categories will be 22 books.

Now, honestly, I highly doubt that I will be able to read 22 books in one month. Especially since there are only 3 or 4 audiobooks in the whole lot. My average is usually 6-8 books in a month. Therefore, the books in the “extra” category are ones that I will read only if I end up getting through the others quickly and have extra time in the month.

Below are the books for this month broken up into the aforementioned categories:

ARC’s:

I am so happy to have discovered Netgalley.  For those of you who don’t know Netgalley is a site that allows me to register as a book reviewer and then request advanced copies of books from different publishers. If I am approved for the ARC I am then given access to an e-version of the book.

I am super lucky in that I have already been approved for tons of books to review throughout the rest of the year.

This month I am reading books that will be published in July and early August.

The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix is described as the perfect book for readers who enjoyed Orphan Train, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Book Thief.

It is about thirteen-year-old Magda who is devastated by the loss of her best friend, shy and gentle Lotte Lotte was snatched and sent to a concentration camp. As the Nazi’s power takes hold across Europe, Magda realizes she’s not like the other girls in her village.  So she secretly joins The White Rose movement and begins to rebel against the oppressive, frightening world around her.

The publication date for this book is July 22, 2019.

 

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

Publication Date: July 30, 2019


Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

Publication Date: August 6, 2019

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.
Publication Date: August 13, 2019

When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that for years she’s lived a sad, reclusive life in a sprawling apartment on the rue Cler. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and a young child, she vows to piece her life back together—though she can’t help but feel she may be in danger. A budding friendship with the chef of a charming nearby restaurant takes her mind off her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young widow named Céline is trying to build a new life for her daughter while working in her father’s flower shop and hoping to find love again. Then a ruthless German officer discovers her Jewish ancestry and Céline is forced to play a dangerous game to secure the safety of her loved ones. When her worst fears come true, she must fight back in order to save the person she loves most: her daughter.

When Caroline discovers Céline’s letters tucked away in a closet, she realizes that her apartment harbors dark secrets—and that she may have more in common with Céline than she could have ever imagined.

Publication Date: August 13, 2019

Relegated to an isolated provincial town in France after years spent fighting on the Eastern Front, German commander Maximilian von Aschau finds unexpected distraction in the form of beautiful and reserved Lucie Léré.

Publication Date: August 12, 2019

 

Bookish Bingo:

So I think this pretty self-explanatory but basically, you complete a straight row on the Bingo board with books that you read. I will be completing the second row from the top.

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Sequel: Throne of Glass- Sarah J Maas

 

Red, White, and Blue Cover: Once and Future- Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

 

Character Celebrates Birthday: Fix Her- Tessa Bailey

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On your shelf for a year: The Help- Kathryn Stockett

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The protagonist seeks independence: With the Fire on High- Elizabeth Acevedo

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Extras:

Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

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Romanov by Nadine Brandes

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

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Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan

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Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

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Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Wicked Kingby Holly Black

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Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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Literary Alliance Book Club:

I have been a part of this book club for about 6 months now and I absolutely love it! Everyone in the group votes on what books we read, we create a private chat to discuss throughout the month and then have a live show at the end.

I love it because I have read so many books that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise read.

This month’s book is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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Read This: The Girl In The Woods by Patricia J. MacDonald

ARC provided by Black Thorn via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

Ever since her best friend Molly was murdered fifteen years before, Blair Butler has returned to her small hometown in the Pocono mountains as seldom as possible. Now she has been summoned home to see her terminally ill sister one last time – only for Celeste to make a shocking deathbed confession. Is it really true that the wrong man has spent fifteen years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit?

Having promised her dying sister that she would do her best to right the wrongs of the past, Blair sets out to discover what really happened that cold, wet November night fifteen years before the night Molly’s battered body was found in the woods behind her home. But is Blair prepared for the shocking truth …

 

Characters:

The characters and their interactions all felt very real. I myself once had an uncle much like Uncle Ellis (except worse) so I was completely able to relate to Blair’s unfavorable view of her uncle and his beliefs.

The thought processes and emotions of the characters all felt appropriate and realistic as the story progressed.

 

Plot:

What I enjoyed most about this book was the natural progression of the storyline and Blair’s reaction to the investigation that she has been thrown into is a believable one. She is overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. She understands that she is not a lawyer, a cop or an investigator. She knows that she will need assistance to figure this out.

The only part that I didn’t think was necessary was Blair’s working with the reporter. I think that whole part could have been left out and she could have gone straight to working with the private eye. I think everything that was accomplished in that part of the narration could have been achieved without that character or maybe with smaller involvement of that character.

 

My opinion:

I enjoyed this mystery much more than I did the mystery that I read last month. These characters seemed much more realistic and the writing was 100x better.

This was a really enthralling and captivating read that enables the reader to feel the frustration, guilt and determination Blair needs to resolve this crime.

 

Would I recommend?:

I would definitely recommend this book. It was the perfect mystery that I needed. It was an interesting easy read with the perfect amount of suspense and thrill.

Definitely check this one out when it is released on July 4th.

 

 

 

 

Read This: The Orphan’s Song

ARC provided by Penguin Group Putnam via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Good Reads Synopsis:

Venice, 1736. When fate brings Violetta and Mino together on the roof of the Hospital of the Incurables, they form a connection that will change their lives forever. Both are orphans at the Incurables, dreaming of escape. But when the resident Maestro notices Violetta’s voice, she is selected for the Incurables’ world famous coro, and must sign an oath never to sing beyond its church doors.

After a declaration of love ends in heartbreak, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family. Known as the “city of masks,” Venice is full of secrets, and Mino is certain one will lead to his long-lost mother. Without him, the walls close in on Violetta and she begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife, hoping her voice can secure her freedom. But neither finds what they are looking for, until a haunting memory Violetta has suppressed since childhood leads them to a shocking confrontation.

 

Characters: 

Violetta- She is so ahead of her time and forward thinking. I love how rebellious she is and how she does not let her life in the orphanage take away her thirst for life, for “more”.

Mino- I love Mino’s loyal and devoted spirit. He never gives up on the belief that he will find his mother, loves Violetta for years while believing that he will never be good enough for her, and sticks by his wife until her death.

 

Plot: 

This story has something for everyone; passion, love, heartbreak, murder, and betrayal.  The pacing and timing of the story are excellent and the descriptions of the emotions of the characters are so lifelike. The song woven throughout the story is so well used that you forget that it isn’t a real song, it has such an impact on the story.

I love that this story begins in an orphanage with almost an “Annie” type feel but without the rich foster daddy to come along.

I have been reading a lot of historical fictions lately and this one is just so beautiful and well written; It truly transports you to a different place and time.

Lauren Kate was able to weave such a beautiful and lifelike story, she brought the world of Venice to life and created these characters who grow and change so much throughout the story.

 

Would I recommend? Why or why not?

This book was beautifully written with grand beautiful descriptions of this world and environment.

I would absolutely recommend this book. Of the ARC’s that I have read in the last couple of month’s, this is probably my favorite. I cannot wait to pick up a hard copy of this.

 

 

May- Wrap Up

Ok. Ok. I know that it is the end of June and this is way late. But, better late then never.

It seems that I may be hitting my sweet spot for books read each month. Again, in the month of May I read 7 books; 3 ARCs, 2 re-reads, and 2 new books for a total of 2,322 pages read in the month.

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Daisy Jones and the Six- Taylor Jenkins Reid Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

“I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story.”

This book is a freaking masterpiece. Incredible. Intoxicating. Unforgettable. It is unlike anything I have ever read. I can count on one hand the number of books that have completely and truly drawn me in and caused me to completely suspend disbelief and this is absolutely one of those. I was like a little kid believing in Santa Claus all over again. This is truly one of the most remarkable stories I have ever read.

It is impossible to read this book without believing whole-heartily in the story, without forgetting that these people, that this band does not actually exist.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone- J.K. Rowling

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“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Potter generation; every year for 7 years the new Harry Potter book was one of my birthday presents and I would spend the rest of the summer reading and rereading it. I can’t tell you how many times I have reread the series in the subsequent years. I still have those same set of books and admittedly they are pretty worse for ware. Let’s just say that young me didn’t really care about caring for my books all that much. So these books are pretty tattered but I love those books; torn, yellowed pages, broken spines and all. Each time I pick one of these books it transports me back to my childhood when I first read it and believed more than anything that my Hogwarts letter would be coming in the mail any day.

I don’t think that I really need to explain what these books are about. If you haven’t read these yet… can you really call yourself a book lover?

 

The Song of Achilles- Madeline Miller

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“I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.”

As someone who has a fair amount of interest in Greek Mythology, it may come as a surprise that I have never read the Iliad.

So I had no idea that this was a retelling of the Iliad.  The Song of Achilles retells the story of Achilles, possibly one of Greece’s best known heroes. But what I love about this is that Miller throws a huge twist into the story by creating a romance between Achilles and his best friend Patroclus. I have to admit that I spent much of this story remembering the movie Troy where Brad Pitt plays Achilles. So this was a whole new way of viewing this story.

Miller creatively and convincingly fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a back story that makes perfect sense.

But I have to say that I did not enjoy this as much as I did Miller’s other Greek retelling Circe. (Click the link below for my review of that book below.)

 

Little Girls Sleeping- Jennifer Chase

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ARC provided by Bookouture through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was good but not great. There were some great “mystery” “suspense” “thriller” moments. But, overall the story was just ok.

Little Girls Sleeping is the first book in a new series. The plot revolves around Katie Scott who has just arrived home in California after leaving the Army. Katie is suffering from anxiety and PTSD but is working through her problems with the help of her trusted service dog Cisco.  After returning home Katie goes to work for the local police department and stumbles upon a 5-year-old cold case that she is drawn to look into and solve.

The thriller mystery aspects of this book weren’t bad. It was really the characters that I had a problem with, specifically the main character Katie. In some moments Katie is portrayed as this bad-ass, take-no-crap female veteran but then in other moments, she is allowing herself to be walked all over by a jerk misogynistic detective. Also, some of her thought processes just didn’t make sense.

Honestly, my judgment of this book may also be a bit jaded based on the fact that Karin Slaughter has ruined me for all other thrillers.

 

The Long Flight Home- Alan Hlad 

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ARC provided by Kensington Books through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is based on Britain’s use of more than 200,000 war pigeons between 1939 and 1945 and that of those 16,000 were parachuted into German-occupied France. I have been reading a lot of Historical Fiction lately and much of it about WWII and this was not something that I had heard about previously.

One of the aspects of this story that I truly enjoyed was the new perspective of the bombings of London. Most of these bombings are seen from the perspective of those outside the city who for the most have to just sit and watch and aren’t really able to do anything to help.

Also, we all face the eventual choice of having to take care of our parents and putting our own needs aside for theirs and this is portrayed beautifully in this story.  Each of these characters put the needs of their family members above their own and show such beautiful selflessness.

 

The Women- S.E. Lynes Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening.” 

This is not your typical thriller. This book was deep and thought-provoking, touching on social issues still prevalent in our current society.

If you remember the 2002 movie “Enough” with Jennifer Lopez; this is the less violent bloody of that.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling     Image result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold starsImage result for gold stars

5 out of 5 stars of course! While it is not my favorite of the series, I actually liked this book more than I remembered! This used to be my least favorite of the Harry Potter books and, while that still might be true, I was more entertained than I expected!

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

 

 

Read This: The Long Flight Home

ARC provided by Kensington Books through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Good Reads Synopsis:

Inspired by fascinating, true, yet little-known events during World War II, The Long Flight Home is a testament to the power of courage in our darkest hours—a moving, masterfully written story of love and sacrifice.

It is September 1940—a year into the war—and as German bombs fall on Britain, fears grow of an impending invasion. Enemy fighter planes blacken the sky around the Epping Forest home of Susan Shepherd and her grandfather, Bertie. After losing her parents to influenza as a child, Susan found comfort in raising homing pigeons with Bertie. All her birds are extraordinary to Susan—loyal, intelligent, beautiful—but none more so than Duchess. Hatched from an egg that Susan incubated in a bowl under her grandfather’s desk lamp, Duchess shares a special bond with Susan and an unusual curiosity about the human world.

Thousands of miles away in Buxton, Maine, a young crop-duster pilot named Ollie Evans has decided to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. His quest brings him to Epping and to the National Pigeon Service, where Susan is involved in a new, covert assignment. Codenamed Source Columba, the mission aims to air-drop hundreds of homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Many will not survive. Those that do make the journey home to England can convey crucial information on German troop movements—and help reclaim the skies from the Luftwaffe.

The friendship between Ollie and Susan deepens as the mission date draws near. When Ollie’s plane is downed behind enemy lines, both know how remote the chances of reunion must be. Yet Duchess’s devotion and her singular sense of duty will become an unexpected lifeline, relaying messages between Susan and Ollie as war rages on—and proving, at last, that hope is never truly lost.

 

Characters:

Ollie Evans- Ollie was the perfect American gentleman portrayed in this narrative. Hlad perfectly showed Ollie’s inner conflict when he disagrees with his parents but still loves them so. Ollie is willing to put his own life aside to care for his father after his accident and Ollie’s grief is palpable after his parent’s accident. Ollie’s loyalty and courage shine through throughout this story.

Susan Shepherd- Although a little morbid at times, Susan is strong, willful and brave. In a time when women were held back and made to depend on men Susan holds her own and shows that women can be of service during the war as well. Her love for her grandfather is fierce and the sadness that she feels over the loss of her grandmother and parents is heartbreaking but beautiful.

Bertie- Bertie was probably my favorite character in the book. He takes care of his granddaughter while also raising and caring for these pigeons that play such a huge role in the war. He is kind and loyal and takes Ollie in even as a stranger. What I love most about Bertie is that even though he wants to protect her, he pushes Susan to think and act for herself and encourages her to not allow anyone to hold her back just because of her gender.

 

Plot: 

We all face the eventual choice of having to take care of our parents and put our own needs aside for theirs and this is portrayed beautifully in this story.  Each of these characters put the needs of their family members aside for their own and shows such beautiful selflessness.

Since this is based on fact and events that truly happened there is not much room for world building but the character development throughout the story is great. The depth of Susan’s grief at Bertie’s passing is heart-wrenching but still, she refuses to give up and doesn’t allow herself to be treated as a “helpless woman”. Susan is a strong woman from the beginning but as the story progresses and she ends up alone she develops into this broken but still strong-willed and self-sufficient woman.

The fact that Britain used more than 200,000 war pigeons between 1939 and 1945 and that of those 16,000 were parachuted into German-occupied France, was fascinating to me.

 

My opinion: 

The details and facts for this book were obviously well researched. It was an emotional and beautiful story that was full of hope and love. I would definitely recommend this book

 

 

Day Two- Nassau and Ship Day

 

When I first booked our cruise I booked us into an Ocean View room with a porthole but after months of debating I decided to upgrade us into a room with a veranda… waking up to this view every morning made it worth every single cent.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person, it takes a lot to get me out of the bed in the morning, on any morning. But after seeing that view from the bed, I could not wait to get up and out onto the veranda to watch the sun come up.

Another aspect I loved about the veranda was getting to watch as we pulled into each port. On the second day of our cruise, we pulled into Nassau, Bahamas.

 

Since this was our first cruise and I wasn’t really sure how excursions worked and we didn’t really have them worked into our budget, we decided to stay on the ship.

After getting up and getting ready we headed up to Cabanas for a delicious breakfast with gorgeous views of the island and Atlantis resort.

We spent our day aboard the ship relaxing by the adult pool, playing mini golf, taking pictures of the beautiful views, eating all.of.the. soft serve ice cream and exploring the ship.

Our second dinner was at the Royal Palace but apparently, it was so good that I forgot to get pictures of the actual food.

After watching DCL’s amazing production of Beauty and the Beast it was time for Pirate Night.

 

I knew that watching fireworks on the ocean would be cool. But, I was not prepared for how spectacular they were. Fireworks are always beautiful against the backdrop of Cinderella Castle or over World Showcase Lagoon in EPCOT but there’s just something about seeing those fireworks against the black drop of the night sky and ocean. This was one of my favorite experiences of the whole cruise.

 

 

TTC Update- Fertility Clinic and Testing

In the last few months, I have discussed different aspects of the TTC Journey but I have not done an update on our specific journey so that is what I will be doing in this post.

The last time that I spoke specifically about our situation was nearly a year ago in July of 2018. For the majority of that time, there were no new developments, it was not until February 2019 that we truly stepped back into this full time.

At the beginning of 2019, Nick and I began talking about getting further testing done, going to a new OBGYN and the possibility of going straight to a fertility doctor. Life happened, some other health things occurred and I ended up seeing my primary care doctor in April; the details of that are in my post linked below.

Check that out here: https://thegrazianolife.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/trying-to-conceive-is-a-full-time-job/

After that experience with my primary care doctor, she recommended that we visit a fertility doctor because they would be more knowledgeable and be able to do more extensive tests than she could.

On April 12th Nick and I took the day off from work and met with our new doctor at a fertility center here in town. During that first visit we sat with the doctor for nearly an hour, she listened to our story, briefly went over Nick’s medical history with his kidney transplants, answered our questions and in the span of an hour had us feeling better and more hopeful then we had in months.

During that visit, Dr. Kaye explained to us her process, what tests she likes done and mapped out an initial plan for us. She made everything crystal clear and broke down each step for us.

 

Since that first visit, the last month has been a whirlwind and things have gotten done so quickly. I have to say that this fertility clinic is amazing; they have test results exactly when they say they will, they call you back when they say they will, and have called my insurance company to fight on my behalf several times in the last three weeks.

 

It is now a little more than a month later and all of the afore mentioned tests have been completed. I have had 5 tests done in the span of 3 weeks and let me tell you they have not been fun. I have kept my mind set on the prize and tried to remember why I am doing this, and what we stand to gain.

 

May 8: Initial labs

May 8: Physical and pelvic exam

May 10: Labs on 3rd day of period

May 10: Ultrasound while on 3rd day of period- Checks to see how many follicles are present within the two ovaries.

May 16: Sonohysterogram-  Catheter is inserted into Uterus, salt water is pushed into catheter, and an ultrasound is then done to ensure that there is nothing in the Uterus that could potential cause a miscarriage.

May 17: HSG- Catheter is inserted, dye is inserted and pushed through tubes, and an x-ray is then to make sure there are no blocks in the Fallopian tubes.

 

Now that all of these initial (so fun) exams have been done we are now scheduled to meet with Dr. Kaye again on June 5th to review all of the results of my tests so that we can set up our game plan moving forward.

 

Next update after June 5th.

 

 

 

 

Read This: The Women (Spoiler Free)

The Women by S.E. Lynes- Image result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold star

“You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening.” 

Good Reads Synopsis: 

The night she moves in with Peter, she’s so happy, so exhilarated, so in love. Later, she will remember a much smaller feeling, a tiny one percent in her gut. And she will remember pushing that feeling aside…

Samantha Frayn doesn’t know why Peter Bridges picks her – a nobody with bitten fingernails and a troubled childhood behind her – but she falls quickly. He’s older, charming, likes fine wine and French films, and his beautiful home has real art on its walls.

Peter transforms Samantha’s life in an instant. He sees the better version of herself – the one she’s always wanted to be. It’s only normal that there’s a little friction, when she moves in, over domestic matters like where things are kept, or the proper times to eat, sleep and shower. She’s lucky to be with someone who can help her find a new job, move on from childish friends, and speak with greater sophistication.

But as Samantha notices, more and more, Peter’s temper, she starts to wonder if there might be consequences to breaking the rules of the world he has so quickly built around her.

And then she receives an anonymous note that makes her ask: is she the first woman to feel trapped by Peter? Is she being paranoid, manipulated, or could she be in danger?

You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening. Someone needs to trust you. And someone needs to save you from the man you thought you loved.

 

Spoiler/ No Spoilers?:  Spoiler free

 

Characters:

Samantha: In the first scene of this story you get such a clear picture of Sam as a strong-willed, take no shit woman. But, as the story shifts back in time you see Sam at a younger age when she is anything but those things.

Honestly. I did not like “younger” Sam at all. I remember going through the story thinking how stupid she was and how naive her decisions were. She makes so many rash thoughtless decisions. That for me really just didn’t mesh well with a woman who is also intelligent and well educated.

Peter: From the first scene I did not like this character. I went in pretty wary and suspicious of him which definitely played into my view of the rest of the story.

Lottie: While I understand why this character was necessary, I don’t believe that the plot line of Lottie “imagining” her dead child was necessary.

Plot:

As stated above I did not like the fact that this intelligent woman was making these horrible, naive decisions. But, the truth of the matter is that unfortunately this the truth of so many women’s stories. So many smart, strong-willed, educated, loving women fall prey to men who hunt them, exploit their weaknesses, and abuse them. I may not like and I may have been able to see what was coming in this story but so many real life every day women don’t and they become victims of these types of men.

 

My opinion:

Despite my dislike of certain plot lines, I did enjoy the story. It was thought-provoking, cautionary, insightful, filled with humor and cynicism.

 

Would I recommend?:

I would definitely recommend this book.

April 2019 Favorites

It has been quite a bit of time since I have done one of these but here we go.

Disclaimer before we begin:  There are partner codes within this post. If you click the link and sign up for any of these products or programs I may receive a free product or promotions in return.

 

Food and Drink

Caramel Cloud Macchiato- 

By now we all know how much of a coffee lover I am. So, it should come as no surprise to find a Starbucks drink on this list. My husband and I have a tradition of getting a Dirty Chai to share once a weekend (usually for while we are at church). But, this month I discovered a new drink. The Caramel Cloud Macchiato has caramel (obvs.), espresso and a whole ton of foam. It’s sweet from the caramel but slightly bitter from the espresso. And I don’t know what it is but I just love foam/steamed milk.

 

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Lindt Chocolate Bars

I love chocolate…period. But, I usually prefer dark chocolate. So I was surprised by how much I enjoy these. The chocolate is smooth and creamy and just so good.

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Homemade Lunches-

This isn’t necessarily a product that you yourself can purchase but it is an idea that you can take away. I have been doing my best to eat a healthy lunch as many days a week as I can. So in the last couple of weeks, I have begun meal prepping on Sundays and I have been taking a combination of shrimp, steak, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and green beans. It is so good!

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Makeup and Beauty

Bare Minerals Bare Pro Concealer- I have been using Bare Mineral products for more than a decade and I love them. This concealer is great, it comes in a “stick” and is super easy to apply.

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Deep Sleep Spray- I received this spray in a samples kit that we received at work and let me tell you it works so great. It is lavender scented and I just spray it onto my pillow when I am having a hard time falling asleep and it works so well.

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Bath and Body Aromatherapy Soaps- We have built up a collection of these recently and we really like them. I mainly use the sleep as I have a hard time getting a good nights sleep and my husband likes to use the Stress Relief when he has had a stressful day at work and they work really well for both of us.

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Lush- Thanks to the Lush Queen Melany from Meltotheany Booktube channel, Lush is now one of my favorite things. Their bath bombs are unlike any other and I love their facial scrubs and masks also.

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Colour Pop- I discovered Colour Pop through another Youtube channel and as soon as I saw these Disney villains inspired products I had to have them. They are just gorgeous.

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Home Décor and Products

Grove Collaborative (Tangelo Palm Frond)-

Can you tell I love this scent?! I found out about this company and this scent from Blair Blogs over on her Youtube channel. These spray’s smell just like Disney’s toiletry products.

If you sign up for Grove Collaborative using this code you will get an entire set of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and I get a $10 credit. https://www.grove.co/referrer/41685636/

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Entertainment (TV, Music, Books, Internet)

Booktubers-

I recently started my own Booktube channel. But have been watching these lovelies for several months and years.

  1. Blair Lamb- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqpa1RS3XNdHlVX3UfyG-ag/featured
  2. A Court of Crown and Quills- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRquBPdPeJCZKaX13lIKRDQ
  3. Meltotheany- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4RbHEg_fH6CewJrh_0xJ9g
  4. Carrie Hope Fletcher- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbhNxkjmpQcTJDrabiyzHUw
  5. Adam Hattan- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSi1tI9v5Z-GUlU58oDn3jg
  6. Gary C- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_4syT17DvSSc8wGpxc2b1w
  7. Rachel McGlothlin- https://www.youtube.com/user/rachelsrendition
  8. The Stauffer Life- https://www.youtube.com/user/TheStaufferLife
  9. That Goninan Life- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtjvQ2ZjUKoSA0k1hIbOAfg
  10. Amy Landino- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR9gMSj0UUxGvgfpNhhF3Jw

Avengers: Endgame- This. Movie. Was. Everything

I started crying about 30 seconds in, cried through the whole 3 hours, and by the last 15 minutes was sobbing.

Owlcrate- I discovered Owlcrate through the Booktube channels listed above and I am pretty sure this is my favorite new thing of the whole year. Each month I receive a new themed box and within each box is a novel with an Owlcrate exclusive cover that is also signed by the author as well as a box full of bookish goodies. I look forward to this box every month. https://www.owlcrate.com/refer/Jessi-MPLKCSAI

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Ambient World- Like I mentioned above, I have a hard time falling asleep sometimes and one of my favorite authors Catherine Locke mentioned in an Insta Story that she loved this Youtube channel that plays like soft background music from different “worlds” and I have been in love ever since.

Clothing and Accessories

I don’t really have anything in this section this month.

 

Priceless

While its not the full result we want, we did get a lot of answers about our fertility journey this month. Fertility Update coming in a separate post soon.

 

// That’s what I’ve been loving lately! What about you?

Read This: Circe- Madeline Miller (Minor spoilers)

Circe by Madeline Miller- Image result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold star

“He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.” 

Good Reads Synopsis: 

In the house of Helios, the god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

Spoiler/ No Spoilers?:  Light Spoilers

 

Characters:

I loved this version of Circe or more accurately this perspective of her life. She begins the story as a child who is bullied by her family members and who just doesn’t fit in within her world but throughout the story she comes into her own and becomes a powerful witch. But what I  love the most about her is how relatable she is. She may be a powerful sorceress but she still has flaws and weaknesses. We get to see this huge arc of growth and I loved that part of her character.

I also love how the book brings in other well-known characters within Greek Mythology for short snippets of time.

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

 

Plot:

Circe lives for thousands of years and this book just such a great job of binding everything together in a cohesive way.

Other Greek myths play out in the background – that of the Minotaur, and of Icarus, as well as many others – but it is Circe’s personal tale that hits the hardest.

 

My opinion:

Honestly, this book was so beautifully and lyrically written. I listened to it in audiobook and it just beautiful. It’s so lyrical that the words just flow and it is so easy to imagine and fall into this world.

I would highly recommend the audiobook of this story. BUT! You also need to purchase a hard copy because the cover of this book is just absolutely gorgeous.

“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.” 

Would I recommend?:

I would recommend this book 110%

Day One- Aboard the Disney Dream

The name of this ship says it all…this cruise was truly a Dream; from the moment we stepped onto the ship to when we stepped back off, every moment was perfect.

The very first thing you see upon boarding the ship is the GORGEOUS atrium. It.is.beautiful.

It’s a three-story lobby, with beautiful elevators, railings adorned with garland, a huge beautiful Christmas tree, a statue of Captain Donald and a breathtaking chandelier.

 

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After taking a little tour of the atrium we headed to deck seven and to our stateroom.

I had heard that sometimes on the shorter cruises it is more difficult to navigate the ship because you don’t have enough time to learn your way around but I didn’t find this to be true at all. We were easily able to find our way around and quickly made it to our stateroom.

The hallways are narrow but clean and beautifully decorated.

 

I had seen photos and videos ahead of time of the staterooms but it was even better than I ever expected.

 

 

By far the best part of the stateroom… the verandah.

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Within minutes our Stateroom Attendant had introduced himself and brought us our luggage. He did everything we asked of him throughout our cruise and was very friendly and knowledgeable.

After sorting out our stateroom and luggage we headed up to Cabana’s (the buffet on board) for lunch.

I had heard that Cabana’s gets incredibly busy on embarkation day and that it can be difficult to find a table.  But, we were lucky enough to find a table right by the big windows looking out over the ocean.

The food was plentiful and varied. I was very pleased with the number of choices and options; especially when I saw the crab legs.

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After lunch, we headed out onto Deck 11 to explore.

 

 

 

We headed to Muster at 4pm before going back up to Deck 11 for the Sail Away Party.

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We then went back to our room to relax for a little while before getting ready and heading to our first main dining room for dinner. We used this time to unpack and relax on our verandah.

Our first dinner on the Dream was at the Enchanted Garden.

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The Enchanted Garden is inspired by the garden of Versailles. The restaurant is decked out in custom-glass flower lights, white trellises, ornamental posts and—at the center of the room—a 7-foot tall fountain.

 

One of my favorite parts of the Enchanted Garden is watching the sweeping ceiling change from a brilliant blue daytime color into the golden red of a setting sun, transforming into a captivating nighttime show of twinkling stars.

Ask anyone what their favorite part of a Disney Cruise is and they will almost always say that it is the food.

And I now have to say that I would wholeheartedly agree.

I went in a little nervous because upon researching the menus I had seen that the menu options were very “gourmet”, “fancy”.  My husband can be a bit picky so I was pleasantly surprised when we both loved everything we eat throughout the cruise.

I plan on doing a separate post about the food offered on Disney Cruise Line so I won’t be going into more detail here.

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After dinner, we attended the Tree Lighting Ceremony before heading to the Walt Disney Theater for our first show of the trip; the Golden Mickeys.

I will be doing a separate review on the entertainment offered aboard the ship but let me tell you these shows were ah.may.zing!

 

 

After the show, we headed back to our stateroom to enjoy the verandah and order some late night room service.

 

 

May- To Be Read

April was a decent month in regards to the number of books I read. But it was a great month in regards to the quality of books I read. I completed one of my new favorite series in April and May is already shaping up to be just as good.

This month I have several goals that I would like to complete.

I. The first book from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas

II. Listen to 3 of the audiobooks from the Harry Potter series

III. Read one-two of the books that I received from my Book of the Month subscription

IV. Read one-two of the books from my Owlcrate subscription

V. Read and review a couple of arcs that I have been approved for

VI.  Read two audiobooks

VII. Book Club book

 

Here are all of the books that I plan on reading this month:

 

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas

 

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I LOVED Sarah’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series. So I am hoping that this one will be just as good.

 

Harry Potter series

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I have read and reread the Harry Potter series countless time but I have never listended to the audiobooks so this is a nice change up.

 

Book of The Month

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

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I am on a huge Historical Fiction kick right now so I am super excited for this one.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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I have heard such great things about this book!

 

Owlcrate

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

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Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan

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ARCS

The Women by S.E. Lynes

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The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

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Little Girls Sleeping by Jennifer Chase

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Audiobooks

Homecoming by Kaas Morgan

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Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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Book Club choice

Vicious by VE Schwab

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If I am able to make it through all of these this month that would be 14 books read this month which would make for an exceptional month.

 

Happy Reading!!!

 

April Reading Wrap Up

April was a decent reading month for me. I finished up an amazing series and am currently on track to hit my goal of 60 books read in 2019.

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So let’s get into it:

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas- Image result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold star

“There’s no such thing as a High Lady,” one of Lucien’s brothers spat. A faint smile played on my mouth. “There is now.” And it was time for the world to know it.”

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“The great joy and honor of my life has been to know you. To call you my family. And I am grateful – more than I can possibly say – that I was given this time with you all.”

 

This was my favorite book in the series. It was such a roller coaster ride of emotions; joyous and triumphant one moment and destructive and gut-wrenching the next.

 

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas-  Image result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold star

“I think my heart knew you were mine long before I ever realized it.”

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“To the stars who listen, Feyre. To the dreams that are answered, Rhys.”

The perfect conclusion to this beautiful series. 

The 100 by Kass Morgan-Image result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold star

“That was the thing about secrets-you had to carry them with you forever, no matter what the cost.”

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Since I watched the television series first it is strange to read the slight differences in the written version of this story. But, I still thoroughly enjoyed the first of this series. 

Day 21 by Kass Morgan-Image result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold starImage result for gold star

“She would figure out how to get what she wanted, what she needed, even when her long lashes failed to convince when her body was no longer young and beautiful. She’d be more than pretty, She’d be strong.”

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I Hate Fairyland Volume 2 by Scottie Young-Image result for gold starImage result for gold star

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Honestly, for some reason, I just did not enjoy volume two of this graphic novel. I don’t think that I will continue with it. 

 

 

Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle-Image result for gold starImage result for gold star

         (Book provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

“We can’t know the future. We can only do our best in the moment.”

The synopsis for this book was so misleading. The “attempted murder” happens within the first 20 pages and is never mentioned again. The synopsis makes it seem as though this is going to play a huge part in the story and it does not. It wasn’t really relevant and because it was brushed off so quickly, it was unnecessary.

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Four Dead Queens byAstrid Scholte-

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“I like how art captures not only the exterior but also the feeling and the mood of the artist. Like a memory.”

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I have never read a book with better world building and character development. 

On Our Fourth Wedding Anniversary

Four years ago on this day, I said I do to my husband, to be his lawfully wedded wife through thick and thin.

At that point, we had already been together for more than eight years. We had already experienced so much together; ups and downs, seasons of happiness and seasons of difficulty and the feeling of hopelessness.  We found our faith and our church family in those years. We continued to push through everything we endured in order to grow closer together and make it to that wedding day.

On May 07, 2015, we got married.

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We did many things over the year of our engagement to prepare for our marriage. Aside from the typical wedding planning and engagement pictures we also spent the year attending premarital counseling, joining and leading a couples group and attending relationship seminars at our church.

We prepared our hearts to make this commitment to each other in front of our friends and family. Symbolically, our wedding day marked the end of our separate lives and the beginning of OUR life. One of the biggest things we learned in our premarital counseling was that this would be the end of our individual lives and the beginning of our lives as ONE. There are three of us in this relationship, him and I and God. Not our families, not our friends, not our coworkers or even our Pastors… just us three. Everything else is secondary, on the periphery.

Even with all the preparations and planning no one truly know what their marriage will entail or what future awaits them. Our lives change so quickly sometimes slowly over weeks, months and years and sometimes quickly in an instant; you work towards a goal together or one of you is suddenly laid off or a family member suddenly passes.

No one can go in knowing exactly what to expect. Marriage, like everything else in life, cannot be taught or understood before it is lived. It needs to be felt and breathed. Sometimes it feels joyous, sometimes it hurts. There are good days and bad days and outside forces can creep in and take over.

If we look at social media all we tend to see are married couples who are still madly in love, who never fight, who never go through hard times and who manage to live a perfectly balanced and harmonious life.

“The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.”
― Gary L. Thomas, Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?

I can tell you that on some days our marriage is less-than-perfect and it took me a long time to realize that it was never meant to be perfect.  Today, I can’t help but think that perhaps the longest lasting marriages, the ones that last forever until death, look more like ours than those “perfect” ones on social media. Why?

Because we’re used to swimming through turbulent waters. We survived things that most people will never go through or may not have to face until they are much older. Despite those hardships and less-than-perfect days, we swim frantically and rise above the surface.  We work to remember that neither of is perfect individually so we certainly won’t be as a whole. We remind ourselves to forgive and compromise and sacrifice. We learn and grow together and take each new day as it comes.

It’s certainly not the prettiest picture of marriage but perhaps the most realistic, the one that helps marriages last a lifetime.

So today, I know that marriage is not a fairytale all of the time, but we strive every single day to reach our happily ever after. And in the end, isn’t that, the greatest fairytale of all?

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Four years ago today, I married my best friend. Despite it being a blustery, windy day, God blessed our wedding day with plenty of sunshine and a beautiful sunset.

I remember the happiness in his eyes, the bliss in the air, and the waves of emotions that I never knew I could feel in a single day.

On that day, I married the man of my dreams.

Four years later, is he still the man of my dreams? Yes and no.

He isn’t perfect, but I know he is perfect for me. He is perfect for me because he has seen me in my darkest moments and has never given up on me. He has seen me at my worst, yet held my hand again the next day. He supports my dreams and goals, even when he may not fully understand them.

“The truth is, we want to be known; we truly do. But we’re afraid. If you see the real me, will you run away? Am I even worth being known? Will the real me bore you? Scare you? Repulse you? And so we hide.”
― Gary L. Thomas, The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why?

He makes me smile when I’m feeling down and manages to make me laugh out loud even as I’m mad.

And despite all the ups and downs of marriage, I know he loves me inside and out, for who I am, not for who I appear to be.

Our marriage has gone through seasons of hopelessness, countless ups and downs, and enough explosive fights to blow most people’s fights out of the water. We love hard and fight even harder.  We fight hard to keep from losing each other in this reality called marriage. At times we feel hurt or betrayed by the stranger who seems to have replaced the other.

Over the years we have learned that love is not an emotion, it is a choice. It is a choice we make each and every day no matter how mad the other may have made us feel the day before. It is a choice we make on the good days and on the bad.

As Gary Thomas says in his book Sacred Marriage “A good marriage isn’t something you find; it’s something you make.”

Image may contain: 1 person   No photo description available.

We choose to make a good, Holy marriage every day despite the sudden storms. Sometimes it’s him, sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s both of us. But one thing remains certain. Even though we may sometime forget it for the briefest of moments we now have a mutual understanding, a silent contract, a promise that binds our two souls. No matter how hard it seems, we don’t give up on each other.

Sometimes the storm is caused by an isolated incident, sometimes it’s the result of months of repressed emotions and words. Sometimes it’s caused by stress from work, by frustrations and doubt in our fertility journey, by one’s amplified emotions, or differences in our personalities and ways of thinking.

“Just when we are most eager to make ourselves understood, we must strive to understand. Just when we seek to air our grievances, we must labor to comprehend another’s hurt. Just when we want to point out the fallacies and abusive behavior of someone else, we must ruthlessly evaluate our own offensive attitudes and behaviors.”
― Gary L. Thomas, Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?

What we’ve had to learn is that living together, paying bills together, sharing chores together, growing up together– such realities of marriage bring out the best, and sometimes the worst in each of us.

Society tells us that we need to look out for our own wants and needs, we need to be selfish and not lose our sense of self. But, we know that marriage required us to give up everything that begins with MY and replace them with everything that begins with OUR. We must each learn to sacrifice. As I exited my life and entered our life, I learned about people, things and circumstances that matter more than myself.

How humbling, self-defeating, yet so beautiful and transcendental.

This is, what love after marriage looks like.

Read This: Kingdom Cold (Spoilers Included)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead—– Do not read if you do not want spoilers

Kingdom Cold-Brittni Chenelle

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Good Reads Synopsis: 

Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdoms attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people, Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart?

One must fall.

 

Characters:

The story alternates between perspectives and as I have mentioned I usually don’t like when this happens as you don’t really get to know each characters personality and thought processes, as well as you would if it just focused on one of them.

Young- I appreciated Young’s optimistic point of view. He is looking on the bright side of his arranged marriage and turns out to be a good king.

Charlotte- At the beginning of the book I thought that Charlotte was a spoiled brat and that did change throughout. But, I still found some of the decisions that Charlotte made to be very rash and stupid. It was hard to like her when she kept making these decisions with no forethought.

Milly- The part of this story that I liked the least was Milly’s character development. She begins the story as a loyal, faithful handmaid and then all of a sudden she is plotting her queen’s death and renouncing her faith. Milly goes from crying and condemning Charlotte for killing the enemy soldiers (who would have likely killed them) to attempting to poison the queen, all within the span of a few chapters.

 

Plot:

The synopsis for this book was so misleading. The “attempted murder” happens within the first 20 pages and is never mentioned again. The synopsis makes it seem as though this is going to play a huge part in the story and it does not. It wasn’t really relevant and because it was brushed off so quickly, it was unnecessary.

The synopsis also makes it seem as if Charlotte and Young are going to have this long drawn out “love to hate” relationship. But, very quickly they are relying on one another, building a relationship and the next thing you know they are married and having a child and are both happy about it.  

 There was not a lot of world building or background history of this world or kingdom. It was just here’s this kingdom…okay, let’s go. There was no development of the world around these characters.

The beginning of the book reminded me a bit of the plot line of the Disney movie Brave. Charlotte is being pushed into an arranged marriage because she is now “of age” and it will garner favor and advantage for the kingdom. But, in the beginning, Charlotte wants nothing to do with this and even makes a comment about winning her own hand. That is where the comparison ends, had the story continued in this vein it could have been good.

The author tries to pack too much into one story. It’s like she thought, “How many different plot lines can I pack into one book?” And then the ones that she did include were quickly brushed off or turned from one twist right into another.

For example, in one chapter Charlotte is attracted to Prince Minseo and then a little while later all she can think about is Young.

 

Your opinion:

Honestly, I did not enjoy the way this book was written. It was just very simple, junior-high level and being the majority of these characters are royals the language that they use just does not make sense. I don’t believe that princes and princesses from far off lands would be using the same dialect that you and I do, it just threw me off.

 

Would I recommend?:

Honestly, I would only recommend this book to young middle school students. It is an easy read and on that, they can probably get through quickly. This type of book has been done in much better ways but better authors.

 

 

 

Disney Dream- Embarkation

After reading all of the trip reports and watching every YouTube video that I could find I knew that in order to start our trip off easily and worry free it would be best for us to arrive in Orlando the day before our cruise began.

So on Thursday, November 15, 2018, Nick and I flew from Las Vegas to Dallas and then onto Orlando. We spent that first night in Disney World (of course) at the All-Star Music resort before heading to the port on Friday morning.

I had read varying reports stating that some enjoyed Disney’s transportation to Port Canaveral and others did not like how late they got you to the port and subsequently onto the ship. But, having to take an Uber, taxi or some other type of third-party transportation just seemed like a hassle to me so, in the end, I decided to stick with Disney.

The shuttle to and from the port was just like any other experience that we had with the Magical Express, simple and to the point.

The shuttle picked us up around 8:30am and we were at the port just before 10 (both much earlier then I had been expecting).

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I had heard that the terminal would be busy and chaotic and that we would more than likely have to wait in several long lines before being able to board the ship.

Luckily, our experience was pretty much the opposite of that. After getting off the shuttle bus and heading into the bottom level of the terminal we waited in a 5-10 minute line to get through security and then headed upstairs for check-in and boarding.

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Checking in was a breeze and before we knew it, it was time to walk through the ears, over the gangway, and onto the Disney Dream.

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Read This: Dreaming Anastasia Review (Spoilers Included)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead—– Do not read if you do not want spoilers

 

Dreaming Anastasia- Joy Preble   Image result for starsImage result for starsImage result for stars

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn’t. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn’t know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good collegeuntil the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

 

Characters:

This story has so many characters that it is hard to keep track of them all. The perspective if constantly changing and the story moves from past to present for many of these characters and it all just becomes too much.

 

Plot:

The twist on the story of Anastasia being trapped by Baba Yaga and not having actually died was quite interesting. As well as the notion of Czar Nikolas having a child that no one knew about outside of his marriage. But, neither of these plot lines was really fully developed. I think if the story had followed either of these threads entirely rather then what it did this would change everything.

I also really did not like the ending. Anastasia insisting on dying at the end just made the whole thing seem pointless. All of these characters went through all of this for no reason.  

Also, I don’t understand how this became a trilogy. I don’t think it was necessary at all.

 

Your opinion:

The part that I enjoyed most about this story was the tie ins to Russian folklore. That is not a topic that I had read about before.

But, I did not enjoy the faux-teenager writing/voice.

The author tried to put a twist on Anastasia’s story while also making it into a fantasy/contemporary and it just felt like there was too much going on. As I said if she had stuck to one plotline then it could have worked.

 

Would I recommend?: 

If you are a fan of the Anastasia story then I would go ahead and read this just for the sake of a new take on the story. But, I would not go in with too high of expectations.

 

 

 

 

A Trip Decades In The Making- Our Trip On The Disney Dream

I still remember the first time that I heard about Disney Cruise Line. I was 10 or 11 standing aboard a Carnival cruise ship.

The cruise my family had planned for my cousins fifteenth birthday had just been canceled because of some mechanical problem with the ship and my aunt was now speaking to a representative for DCL to see how much it would be for all of us to board a Disney ship instead.

By now you know my love for Disney so it should come as no surprise that I wanted to go on that Disney cruise more than anything. Unfortunately, we did not end up doing that Disney Cruise. But the idea of it never left me after that.

I remember seeing commercials for DCL and how badly I wanted to experience Animators Palette. Those dreams of a Disney Cruise remained with me for nearly two decades before finally coming to fruition last November.

Early last year my family began to plan a reunion in Walt Disney World for Thanksgiving and in the midst of planning and trying to figure out costs my husband suggested taking a Disney Cruise while already in Florida… and I, of course, leaped at the chance.

Our trip on the Disney Dream was everything that I imagined it would be and so much more.

Stay tuned over the several weeks for ALL of the Disney cruise content; you can look forward to everything from daily trip reports, to detailed descriptions of specific experiences, dining reviews, a stateroom tour and of course tons of pictures.

 

Have you ever been on a Disney Cruise? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Faith Like Fireworks

It is so funny how your perception of things shift and change as you get older. When  I was a kid, I hated fireworks. The loud noise and the thought of one coming down and burning someone terrified me. But somewhere along the way that perception changed and I love a good fireworks display now.

If you’ve ever watched fireworks, then you know how mesmerizing they can be. Each of these tiny artificial light makes its way into the vast darkness of the sky, and these two perfectly-timed fuses combine to create a beautiful luminous masterpiece.

Over the years fireworks have been combined and displayed by companies to create beautiful displays and to tell a story. But, if they didn’t do this and those fireworks just sat in a covered box, protected from anything that might ignite them, then the beauty that they contain would never be displayed and we would miss out on this masterpiece.

I was listening to Katy Perry’s song Firework and it got me thinking what would it mean to have faith like fireworks?

So many believers choose to keep their faith hidden away in that box of their heart instead of lighting the fuse and allowing it to be displayed in a beautiful masterpiece. We each have the choice of how we display our faith, therefore, we get to choose how that firework is displayed. But sometimes expressing our faith in Christ and lighting that firework is challenging.

I’ve had times when I’ve struggled with how to be a witness for Christ, and I’m guessing you have too. We all have that fear of what other’s will think of us and putting our faith first, out on display can potentially rub others the wrong way.

Also, for me, I have always felt that it is important for me to be cognizant and respectful of others. I never want to be ignorant or disrespectful of someone else’s religion or beliefs. In my opinion, no religion is better than another and everyone else has the right to express their faith in their way, just like I do. 

 Yet, God’s Word reveals that we are called to be a light in the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 CSB reminds us: “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

While it can be tempting to keep our “shells in the box” and avoid revealing the light of Christ inside our hearts, living our faith out loud shouldn’t be an option if we truly love the Lord. 

So how can we do this?

Just like the perfectly-timed fuses contained within the shells of fireworks, we can shine our own light in perfectly-timed ways. I highly believe that there is a time for everything and I have seen first hand how these things can play out. If we pray for the Holy Spirit to be within us and to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to opportunities to share His Good News then that is exactly what will happen. 

We can watch for opportunities to share your own faith story in open situations. We can be on the lookout for friends, family members, coworkers and sometimes even strangers who may be going through a hard time who may need prayer. We can share our favorite scriptures and our own experiences.

I try to always be ready to talk about the hope of God. I pray for these opportunities and then I pray for God to give me the right words to say, to help me say exactly what that person needs to hear at that moment. 

I pray for me to be cognizant and open to the needs of others. Sometimes being that light means being open to taking action by serving others and meeting their needs, both physical and spiritual.

When we do these things we can create our own fireworks display and depict a display of God’s light each and every day. 

 

 

Read This: Then She Was Gone Review- Spoilers Included

Warning: Spoilers Ahead—– Do not read if you do not want spoilers

 

 

 

 

Then She Was Gone –  Lisa Jewell    Image result for starsImage result for starsImage result for stars

“When I read a book it feels like real life and when I put the book down it’s like I go back into the dream.”

 

Good Reads Synopsis: 

THEN

She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.

And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.

Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine-year-old daughter.

Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 

Who still has secrets to hide?

Characters: 

Laurel – I have this kind of devil’s advocate view of Laurel. On the one hand, I understand her grief and can’t imagine losing a child and not knowing what happened to them. But, I also don’t feel like that warrants her treatment of her husband and other children, especially the other kids.

I enjoyed Laurel’s relationship with her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. In all other aspects of her life Laurel has become withdrawn and a shell of her former self. But, with her mother, she is loving and craves her attention. She is almost like a child again.

 

Plot: 

I personally don’t like when the synopsis of the book gives away big plot points or twists. For example, I would have preferred they leave out the fact that Poppy looked like Ellie. But, since it did include this information I went in assuming that there was something strange going on with Poppy and Floyd.

It took away a lot of the mystery of the book for me, which I didn’t enjoy.

 

“A man who can’t love but desperately needs to be loved is a dangerous thing indeed.”

 

Opinion: 

It only took me five days to read this book which because of my work schedule is pretty quick for me. This book is fairly fast-paced and goes down smoothly. BUT! I found much of it to be predictable.

The biggest surprise to me was to find out that Floyd was in a relationship with Ellie’s abductor which led to this whole thing. It just seemed like a stretch of the imagination for this all to have happened.  

While the story was well written, I personally prefer a mystery/thriller where the reader is left in the dark for most of the book. As opposed to the reader knowing the answer and reading along as the main character discovers it.

 

Would I recommend? 

I would recommend this book. It wasn’t bad; just certain plot lines were predictable. But, there are portions that are witty and dark which still make a good read in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

March Reading Wrap Up

Hey, loves! I read 14 books in February and was hoping to continue that great tide into March. While that did not happen I did read a fair number of books and more importantly, I found my new favorite series.

What I read in March…

March books

 

The Titanic Disaster- Adam Stone  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one I think is pretty self-explanatory. This middle-grade graphic novel was short sweet and to the point. I chose this more for the art style than the content of the story.

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The Tea Dragon Society- Katie O’Neill ⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Memories don’t just live inside you, Minette. They live in all the people and objects you share your life with.”

What a wonderfully diverse and gentle little graphic novel. I am relatively new to the world of graphic novels but I absolutely love the art style.

This story is broken down into five parts; one for each season and then an epilogue. Tea Dragons are basically just mini dragons that grow different herbs alongside their horns! And all the names of the dragons are based on the herb that they grow.

This story is truly about friendship, and how important it is to find a place in the world that will surround you with unconditional love. This is also a story about appreciating people for their differences and embracing all people.

You- Caroline Kepnes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Some people on this earth receive love, get married, and honeymoon in Cabo. Others do not. Some people read alone on the sofa and some people read together, in bed. That’s life.”

What a psychological thriller! This book was just creepy.
“You” is a fucked up tale told from the point of view of a stalker who obsesses over a young woman who comes into his bookstore.  Said stalked becomes increasingly obsessed and gradually implants himself into her life, orchestrating elaborate rouses in order to seek a relationship with her.
In recounting his tale, Joe truly believes that he and Beck are meant to be. His narration is completely insane, horrifying and – at times – beautiful.
                                                         you

The Tattooist Of Auschwitz- Heather Morris ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Nations can threaten other nations. They have power, they have militaries. How can a race that is spread out across multiple countries be considered a threat? For as long as he lives, be it short or long, he knows he will never comprehend this.”

This is a beautifully written historical fiction novel based on a true story. Lale Sokolov became the main tattooist of Auschwitz by pure chance and luck. During his 3 years at the German’s most notorious concentration camp, Lale meets and falls in love with fellow prisoner Gita. 
This beautiful story illustrates how love and hope are everlasting and how the strength of the human spirit can endure even in the darkest cruelest of times.
                                                       tattoisofauschqitz

The Poet X- Elizabeth Acevedo ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Burn it! Burn it. This where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?”

 

Even with all of the rave reviews about The Poet X, I still went in with minimal expectations. Although I have written poetry in the past, I have never particularly enjoyed reading it. So this book was a surprising delight; so beautifully written in verse and prose. Acevedo’s main character Xiomara was relatable and although I was not raised in such a strict and religious household, I am Hispanic and could relate in that way to Xiomara and her family.
                                                        poetx1

I Hate Fairyland Volume #1- Skottie Young ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This graphic novel is like a cross between Alice and Wonderland and Deadpool. In this story, we meet six-year-old Gert who has been stuck in the magical world of Fairyland for thirty years and has developed such a hatred for the land that she is willing to hack, slash and kill her way out. What I love most about this graphic novel is the vibrant, full of gore art style.
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A Court of Roses and Thorns- Sarah J Maas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.” 

When my coworker lent me these books, I was excited to dive into a new YA Fantasy series. I didn’t know anything able these books going in so I had no expectations.
If you are a lover of retellings then this book is for you.  To be honest, it took me a fair amount of time to realize that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. But, this was unlike any versions of Beauty and the Beast the I haven’t ever read.
This story contains elements of romance,  danger, and fantasy.  The character development and world building within these books is urgently structured and timed. This was the perfect first book to begin Feyre’s story.
                                                     thorns and roses

A Court of Mist and Fury- Sarah J Maas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I needed not to be dead when I agreed.”
“You needed not to be alone.”
 

A Court of Mist and Fury is every emotion rolled into one book; heart-wrenching and sorrowful one page and joyous and freeing the next.

I have never read a Fantasy book that delves into such realistic, everyday themes; from abuse to PTSD, and grief. This book is a story about life and love and every shade of gray in between.

“But then she snapped your neck.”
Tears rolled down his face.
“And I felt you die,” he whispered.
Tears were sliding down my own cheeks.
 

The first book gave us our background information and built Feyre’s world. This book takes Feyre through the aftermath and shows her dive into a fearful, traumatized broken soul and how she eventually finds her way back into herself.
                                          mist and fury

 

I read some great books in March and rediscovered my love for Fantasy novels. Book 5 of the COTR series is set to come out in the next few years and I cannot wait.
What books have you been loving?

Trying To Conceive Is A Full-Time Job

Trying to conceive is a full time, often heartbreaking, job. It is one that no one applies for, one that no one wants on their resume.

Unfortunately, my husband and I have found ourselves on this journey for the last year and a half.

This job is one that comes with a stressful and demanding schedule. This schedule is chock-full of timelines, deadlines, windows, statistics, and cycles.

When you are living and working this TTC journey, your life falls into four-week increments. Each month is broken down into days past; days past ovulation, days past implantation, days passed your period due date.

Each day you pray that you won’t have to move into the next four-week increment and slowly those days of prayer become weeks and months. Each month when mother nature comes to visit, your heart breaks just a little bit more.

Every month that you work this job you wonder what you did wrong; did you not pray hard enough, take enough vitamins, not track properly.

Nick and I have been following this journey together for the last year and a half. And while it has brought us closer and allowed us to have open communication this is not a job that either of us ever wanted.

It seems like in the past few weeks we have been surrounded by people who are announcing pregnancies or who have brought babies into the world and while we are thrilled for them, we can’t help but feel that draw on our spirits and our desire for a child.

I’ll admit that the last couple of weeks have been filled with more tears than joy and more excitement that has turned to heartache.

Up until this past Saturday, the 6th of April Nick and I were pretty sure that our miracle had finally come and we were pregnant.

We had done the deed, put in our two weeks notice and were ready to move on into the next chapter.

My period was due on March 27th and when it didn’t come on time we thought nothing of it. I’ve been a couple of days late in the past and sometimes the apps used to track aren’t completely accurate so we continued to wait.

And each day that my period didn’t come my heart became a little lighter and my excitement a little higher (despite my attempts to keep it under wraps).

Finally after 7 days and a 36 day cycle (which I have never had before) Nick and I decided we couldn’t wait any longer and so I tested and when that negative sign showed on the test I let myself believe that it was because it was simply too early, there wasn’t enough HCG built up in my system for the test to detect and I just needed to wait a few more days to test again.

Then on day 8 at a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment we explained what was going on and being that my cycle is typically regular she was excited for me to take another test…which was negative.

She advised that it could possibly still be early and wrote me an order for lab work to be drawn if I still didn’t get my period in a few days.

On day 10 and cycle day 40 I had lab work done in the morning and by 4pm that day the bleeding began and our hopes were dashed once more.

I have had my period every single month for nearly nineteen years and have never to my recollection missed a period or had a forty-day cycle.

So, in those two weeks, we allowed ourselves to begin to fantasize about how we would tell our mothers, our families. In those two weeks, we began to talk about names and coming doctors appointments. Began thanking God for this blessing. I pushed myself into wishful thinking and convinced myself that I was having symptoms that weren’t really there.

I try to remind myself that everything happens for a reason, that it will happen when it is meant to but sometimes the pain and anger take over. This seems like some cruel joke, like a terribly late April Fools Joke.

I am so very thankful for the friends who I reached out to who guided me and walked me through these two weeks, who allowed me to vent and share my hopes. Who checked in and prayed alongside us.

I am thankful for a husband who has held my hand through every exam and blood draw and who has pushed me to not lose hope. And for a God who hasn’t failed me yet (even though I may have to occasionally remind myself of that).

Having Hobbies When Life Gets In The Way

I like to tell myself that I am too busy to have hobbies but that just couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m busy sure…but not too busy.
I have to remind myself that if I have the time to sit and binge watch 4-5 episodes of Grey ‘s Anatomy a night then I have the time for hobbies.
I envy people who say things like “I never watch TV, I can’t sit still long enough” or “I have to have a specific goal or purpose for my day” or “sitting and watching TV for long periods of time just isn’t me.”
I have never had that problem. I would gladly spend an entire weekend on my couch being as unproductive as possible.
But the problem is that the rational side of me says that there are things to be done and tries to talk the other side of me into action.
I’ve come to realize that hobbies are my friend. They allow me to be productive and be creative in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. 
I also think that it’s very important to do things that are solely for yourself, solely because you enjoy it.
So here are some of my favorite things to do in my free time. 
1. Reading 
Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy reading. There is nothing that is more relaxing to me after a long day at work then coming home and relaxing on the couch with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea.
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2. Journaling
Whether it is Bible Journaling, Junk Journaling, Bullet Journaling or any other kind of journaling, I love it. I love keeping track of my thoughts, memories and special events happening in my life so that I can look back on them.
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3. Blog Writing
Although I don’t publish posts on here as often as I would like, I do write them fairly frequently. I currently have over 60 posts already written waiting to be published. I find writing about my life and different subjects therapeutic.
I think hobbies are important for everyone but especially if you’re a busy person, who is constantly giving time away to everyone but yourself. Everyone needs a little bit of “me time” and I personally feel so much better when I’ve devoted some time to the things that help me relax and bring me joy.
Let me know what your hobbies are and why they’re so important to you!