April Book Review

This month’s reading included a ton of young adult contemporary novels as well as a couple “thrillers.” I was able to read 8 books this month which brings my yearly total to 18. Here are the books that I read this month. And as always, if you have any suggestions for me, be sure to leave a comment!

Unknown-1Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

This may be the one of the best books I’ve read so far this year*. And the best part is this author has a TON of other books for me to dig into! This book follows Lindsay who left her abusive husband years earlier. Fast forward ten years later when her ex-hubby, Andrews, gets out of jail (serving time for reckless driving and killing the other driver) and weird things start happening. They suspect it is Andrew trying to make her pay for leaving him years ago. The book kept me hooked the entire time and I’ll definitely be checking out other books by this author.

 

Never Never by Colleen HooverUnknown

Yupp, I read another Colleen Hoover book! This one she wrote with Tarryn Fisher. It was a super short read (one of the reasons why I wanted to read it) and was somewhat enjoyable. The book is told by alternating narrators, Silas and Charlie, who “wake up” in the middle of their day having no idea who they are or where they are. Helping each other, they both try to figure out who they are and why their memory got erased. It was a quick read and was decent enough. I didn’t connect to the characters like I have in other Colleen Hoover books but if you’re looking for a super quick read, this may be a winner.

24422492Never Never Part 2 by Colleen Hoover

The first book left on a cliffhanger (or really, it just ended) so of course I needed to read the second book. It picks right up where the first left off and you come to find out that Silas and Charlie’s memories are erased every 48 hours. They have been writing down notes for their “new” selves to remember and try to figure out what is happening to them. I finished this one in about 2 hours. Still enjoyable but still not connecting to the characters like I usually do. Yet right after I finished this book, I downloaded the third…

 

Never Never Part 3 by Colleen HooverB01A2COA88.MZZZZZZZ

…and finished it in about 2 hours as well. These weren’t the best books I’ve very read whatsoever. The whole premise was weird and even in book three, I still cared very little about the characters. If you like Colleen Hoover, I’d say check these ones out. Or if you’re in the mood for a super quick, easy read. Otherwise I’d say spend your reading time on something a wee bit better.

 

 

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Unknown*I thought Never Let You Go was the best book I’ve read so far this year until I finished this one. The book starts with Will and Iris celebrating their seventh anniversary. The next morning, Will gets on a flight to Orlando. Fast forward a few hours later when Iris learns of a plane crash and finds out Will was on board. The kicker? The plane was headed to Seattle, not Orlando. Iris’ life begins to unravel when she realizes how little she knows about her husband and how he had been lying to her for years. There were tons of twists and turns and I gasped out loud at least twice. I also stayed up until 1030 to finish it and if you know me, something has to be really good for me to stay up past by bedtime. I am hoping this author has more books!

 

First & Then by Emma Mills

{84C2BFC3-6FBC-49DE-83DA-01DF25C289BF}Img400The old saying goes, “never judge a book by it’s cover.” Oops. I did with this one. The cover of this book is BEAUTIFUL! I saw it at Barnes and Noble forever ago, took a picture of it, and added it to my E-libary wish list. It took a couple of chapters to get into but I ended up enjoying it. Devon’s family takes in her cousin Foster after his father dies and his mother is unable to care for him. He is different and Devon is extremely protective and worried he won’t fit in. Foster ends up finding his place on the football team of all places and Devon continues to figure out her new life, with her new cousin and new relationships. Overall, an easy read. Somewhat predictable but really, aren’t all YA books?

Steering the Stars by Autumn Doughton and Erica Cope

51+kqM9m-HL._SY300_This book was super cute! It follows two best friends, Hannah and Caroline, and is told from their points of view in alternating chapters. Hannah is a writer and gets an opportunity to spend a year abroad in London at a prestigious school where she can work on her craft. That leaves Caroline in Oklahoma, where she has to navigate her junior year without her best friend. I really enjoyed both characters, as well as all the secondary characters. I read this one in less than 24 hours… because it was super easy and also because I enjoyed it. I sometimes am disappointed when books end because I want to stay with the characters a little longer and find out what happens, and this is one of those books. I would love for there to be a sequel.

 

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

{4EC78560-15E3-4EF2-8432-047F1705B873}Img400Okay, so I only read about 25% of this book in April. I had checked it out several weeks ago but in the middle of reading it, my loan period ended so it was deleted from my Kindle. There was no way I was going to buy the book when I was almost done with it, so back on the waiting list I went. Jessie moves to Los Angeles after her mother dies and her dad meets someone new. LA is totally different from her life in Chicago and the book follows her trying to navigate her new surroundings. Insert SN, an anonymous boy who begins emailing (and then texting) Jessie. There are several people who you think could be SN, but you don’t find out until the very last chapter. This one was a typical YA book, so of course I enjoyed it.

I am currently in the middle of Cancel the Wedding. You’ll have to come back next month for that review. Happy reading!

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day! If you know me in real life or have just been reading my blog, it should come as no secret that I love to read. When someone asks me what my hobbies are, reading is always the first response. It’s always been like this. I remember in high school, freshman year, a new friend was walking with me to class and asked what I did for fun. My response? I like to read. Right after I said it I realized it probably made me sound like the biggest nerd and thought maybe I should have come up with a better answer. Fifteen years later, I’m no longer concerned with being a book-nerd.

images-1

I think I love reading so much because of all the people you get to meet and the places you get to go, too. I realize it sounds really cheesy but characters as people I get to meet. I connect with some, don’t connect with others, experience happiness, tragedy, and all other things with them. And the settings of each of these books are places that I get to travel to and live in for hours, days, weeks… however long I am with these characters. I never understood when people say that they don’t like to read. It makes me sad that they are missing out on meeting so many wonderful (or maybe horrible) people and experiencing life in all kids of settings.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Yesterday, Michael and I spent the afternoon at the LA Times Festival of Books. It was different than what I expected, but still really cool to see hundreds (I am bad at estimating) of booths and thousands of people there with one thing in common– books!

IMG_3274

If this wasn’t $15, it would have come home with me!

 

 

And now its Sunday afternoon and the work week is looming. It was a really low-key and enjoyable weekend… we caught up on Survivor, I read a whole lot, we both did work, and today was spent outside again, hiking to Griffith Observatory. Hope y’all have a wonderful week and the countdown towards next weekend starts… now!

IMG_3298.JPG

March Book Review

It’s book time again! I usually finish every book I start; I hate stopping in the middle. I started a few this month that I just didn’t get into. My fellow book lover, Tricia, told me why finish it if I’m not enjoying it? There are far too many books to read to waste time on something you don’t enjoy! Here are the ones that I did finish, along with one that I *almost* finished.

The Widow by Fiona Barton Unknown-1

I read this one at the beginning of the month and weeks later, I honestly can’t give you a synopsis without looking at Amazon. I do know that I whizzed right through it because it was good! If you like a good thriller like Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, definitely look for this one at your library.

 

 

 

Unknown

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one. Nicki goes back to her small town when her brother calls her, asking for help with her dad who is in a home. The reader comes to learn that Corinne, her best friend went missing after the city’s carnival about 10 years earlier. While in town, another young girl goes missing and Nicki gets invested in the case because of the similarities to her friend’s disappearance. I really enjoyed this one despite sometimes being confused with the format of the book. The events move backwards so keeping all that straight in your head can get a bit confusing at times. And while I liked this one, my mom wasn’t able to finish it.

Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Unknown-3.jpegI love Colleen Hoover and I’ve enjoyed every one of her books (It Ends with Us and November 11 are my favorites). This one was enjoyable but definitely did not go to the top of my Colleen Hoover list. Maybe what I enjoy most about her books is how quick and easy they are. I am drawn in, get invested in the characters, and stay up a little later than I should to finish reading. Slammed follows Layken who moves back to Michigan with her mom and brother after her father dies. She becomes close with her neighbor, Will, and starts seeing herself liking Michigan but then learns that they can’t be together (for a reason I won’t spoil). She is also struggling with the thought of her mom dating again but finds out her mom is going through something much bigger. There are two more books in this series that I will probably read at some point, mostly because I’ve read all of her other books and need something to tie me over until a new book comes out!

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Unknown-2I’m not usually an audiobook kind of gal. I always find my thoughts drifting and then end up needing to skip back 30 seconds and then another 30 second and then another 30 seconds until I am basically listening to the book twice.  The Kindle book was on hold, but the audiobook was available so I gave it a whirl. I loved it! It definitely made my commute much more enjoyable and I loved that Lauren was the narrator. My favorite chapters were the ones where she talks about Gilmore Girls, season by season. She explains her favorite parts of each season and gives commentary on her hair/wardrobe choices, as well as giving insight in to what was happening with her personally during the making of the show. If you enjoy Gilmore Girls, check this one out. I am not sure I would read the book, but the audio version was perfect.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I belong to two e-librarys (Phoenix and Corona) so that I can maximize the books that are Unknownavailable to me. Things that may be on hold in Phoenix’s library for months may be available in Corona’s and vice versa. This was one that I was surprised to see available. Of course, it’s another YA book but you know why I love YA– it’s easy peasy! I liked this one… I got a little tired of the narrator and wanted to shake her at times but then I felt bad because her actions/behavior were based on horrific things that happened in her past. Essentially, Melody and Rider are in a pretty abusive foster home together as kids. Fast forward several years when both have found better living situations, Melody goes back to public school and finds out that Rider goes there and is in her speech class. I’d recommend if you like YA books.

The Book of Joy: Finding Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

51VaMOqmsjLI am trying to read more non-fiction but unfortunately, this was the one that I didn’t finish. I liked the entire premise of this book but I found most chapters to be extremely repetitive. They discussed “Ubuntu” on several occasions in the portion that I did read which made me smile. Whether they were talking about joy, how to remain joyful, the things that can get in the way, etc… it all came back to thinking about others. Perhaps I will finish this at some point but, like I said, it was a little repetitive for me.

 

 

I’m already flying through my first book for April! Anything you recommend?

Read, Read, Read!

Happy Read Across America Day! This day, celebrated annually on March 2nd– Dr. Seuss’ birthday, urges us to read, read, read. I don’t teach elementary school (though some days it seems like it!), so we don’t have anything special planned but I do my best, on a daily basis, to encourage my students to ALWAYS be reading. Be sure to celebrate Read Across America Day by spending a few minutes with your favorite books!

f8a081ad1b5d1ded3e22cab96bbc11c4

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday!

whatsupwednesday1

I read Mix and Match Mama’s blog every morning and today I am linking up with her and other bloggers for my first ever What’s Up Wednesday! Enjoy!

whatsupwednesday

What I’m Eating this Week:

chocoloate_chip_off_the_ol_block_final_grande_large_3f185041-b70f-44d6-a57f-306e68093dc9_large

If you love cookie dough like me, you NEED this! I got the Chocolate Chip Off the Ol’ Block and Birthday Bash in my Christmas stocking and let me tell you, once you open it up, it’ll be gone. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I finished the first one in two sittings. It’s all going to the same place eventually though, right?

What I’m Reminiscing About:

I’m not sure I’m really reminiscing about anything lately but I do think a lot about where I am now and where I was a year ago. I cannot even put into words how much happier I am. I am back home in California, driving distance from my family, in the same city as Michael for the first time in three years, and at a job I LOVE with co-workers who I enjoy! It’s crazy how much can change in a year!

What I’m Loving:

homeland.jpg

Michael and I are binge-watching Homeland and I love having a show to watch together. We have very different tastes in television and while I can get him to watch The Bachelor and Vanderpump Rules with me, they’re not his fave. We both highly recommend if you haven’t seen it!

What I’ve Been up to:

I’ve just been up to normal life. Nothing too interesting.

What I’m Dreading:

I’m not dreading anything at the moment!

What I’m Working on:

I am currently in the process of finding someplace in LA to volunteer. I have a few places in mind but infortunately, with my schedule, the weekends are really the only time I can volunteer. I’ll keep you posted on what I find!

What I’m Excited About:

Spring break (teacher perk!) is still a ways away but I have some fun plans in the works! Michael and I are heading up to San Francisco for a few days to celebrate his birthday and I am also going on a cruise with my co-workers (organized by our admin!)! We are doing a 3-day cruise to Ensenada. I’ll get back the morning of Michael and I’s flight to SF so it’ll be a bit of a rush but I am glad I get to do both trips!

What I’m Watching/Reading:

scientology

What I’ve really been enjoying lately is Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath. I’ve always been extremely fascinated with Scientology and I am the shocked emoji during every episode of this mini-series. My heart breaks learning of the individuals’ stories. I hope the continued coverage and the conversation that Remini and Mike Rinder, another former Scientologist, started will make people aware of the atrocities of this so-called “religion.” Also, I highly recommend Remini’s book if you haven’t read it!

I have a couple books downloaded and ready to go on my Kindle but I haven’t started them yet. I have such good intentions to read every night before I go to sleep but I’m an old lady and it doesn’t always happen. The Zookeeper’s Wife is next on my list… I need to read it before the movie comes out!

What I’m Listening to:

joshua-radin

I love me some Joshua Radin and I get to see him play at the Troubadour tonight! He was previously scheduled to play here last fall but the concert was canceled for some reason.  He also has a new album out this week so be sure to check it out!

What I’m Wearing:

barre_blk_1024x1024.jpg

My mom got me this shirt in my stocking for Christmas and I wore it to Barre for the first time last week. I got a couple compliments!

What I’m Doing This Weekend:

roomieweekend

My college roomies, Whitney and Steph, are in town! Steph is in LA for work and I recruited the rest of the roomies so that we could have a mini-reunion. Unfortunately, Jess won’t be joining us. On the agenda is happy hour at Pump, dinner at Sur, and the Gonzaga game versus Pepperdine. The picture above is from our last LA roomie weekend in November! We had so much fun on the WB Studios tour!

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month:

Kelley and James are coming home for a visit!

What Else is New: 

Umm, I think we covered it all!

ABCs of Me!

I didn’t start out with a post introducing myself because I figured anyone who read my blog would be people who already knew me. And while that still may be the case, this post is probably still a good idea. My students did an “ABCs of Mesopotamia” project for our history unit so I stole the idea for this post from that. Some of the letters were harder than others so forgive me for some of the randomness (and for the length of this one!).

Arizona: I lived in Arizona for six years following grad school. California wasn’t too kind to teachers when I was first looking for a position and Arizona was a good compromise.

Boyfriend: aka Michael! We had our first date in October 2013 and long story short: he moved to Connecticut for a job, we did long distance, we couldn’t do long distance, we did long distance again, and last May the stars finally aligned for us to live in the same city. He is kind and funny and smart and considerate. He also watches The Bachelor with me!

California: Born and raised and finally back again!

Dad: My dad puts up with a lot considering he has three daughters. We share a love of college basketball and Pippa (see P!) even though he will claim she is “just okay.”

Erin: Erin is my older sister and one of my best friends. She is literally the best person I know and reminds me on a daily basis to take nothing for granted.

Friday Night Lights: Hands down, Friday Night Lights is the best show that has ever been on television. If you haven’t watched, stop reading and log into Netflix!

Gonzaga: I am a proud graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. I received my BA in Sociology and stayed another year for my Masters in Teaching. GO ZAGS!

Homeland: Michael and I are currently binge-watching Homeland. I’ve seen the first three seasons and thought he might like it. We are flying through but darn work for getting in the way of our TV watching!

I love reality television: The Bachelor(ette), Teen Mom, Vanderpump Rules, The Real Housewives of (insert city), Fixer Upper, Below Deck, Survivor, Top Chef, and many, many more. I swear, I do more than just watch TV!

Jury: I think it would be so fun to serve on a jury. I am beyond fascinated with those high-profile court cases (OJ, Casey Anthony, Scott Peterson, “Serial,” Making a Murderer).

Kelley: Kelley is my younger sister. We are only 16 months apart and could not be more different. We didn’t really get along when we were growing up but I am very happy to call her one of my best friends now.

Linda: Linda is my mama. She is another one of my best friends. Give me a positive adjective and there is a 99.9% chance that it describes her.

Maggie: Maggie is Erin’s Welsh Corgi. She is about 11 years old and has certainly aged (aka gotten grumpy) since we got the little black dog (see P) last summer.

New York: I wish I could live in a tent in Central Park. Maybe not in the winter but I’d totally be up for it the rest of the year.

Oregon (more specifically, the Northwest): I miss the Northwest and don’t think I fully appreciated it while at Gonzaga. I miss the green and the seasons. California is definitely more green than Arizona was, but it still has nothing on the Northwest.

Pippa: Pippa/Pippy/Pippita/Pippilita is my family’s little black Jack Russell/Lab mix. She is almost a year old (I am currently planning her birthday party because I am THAT person) and I am pretty much obsessed with her. Remember this name; you’ll be hearing it a lot.

Quit Playing Games with my Heart: 90’s boy bands will forever have my heart. I’m looking at you Hanson, *N SYNC, and Backstreet Boys.

Roomie weekend: My favorite weekend of the year! My three college roomies and I each live in a different city (in three different states!) so we have a yearly (sometimes bi-yearly) roomie weekend and it’s my favorite tradition.

Shopping: Shopping is my cardio. Well, not really but I do love a good shopping trip. I am the queen of justifying any purchase (thanks, Mom!). I am also the queen of putting everything back because I convince myself that I don’t need it.

Teacher: I teach 6th grade ELA/History.

Ubuntu: Ubuntu is an African philosophy that means “I am because you are.” It is my favorite word for so many reasons (come back later this week for that blog post!).

Vacation: Michael and I have a few trips planned this year– San Francisco for his birthday/my Spring Break and Washington D.C. for his sister’s wedding. The teachers/admin at my school are going on a three-day cruise at the start of Spring Break and I am fairly positive I’ll be joining.

Whitney: I have two best friends and both are named Whitney! Whitney R. and I have been besties since Kindergarten and Whitney U. and I were randomly paired up as freshman roomies at Gonzaga. They are both pretty much stuck with me at this point!

Xenon (aka Zenon 😉 thanks Steph!): Do you remember that Disney Channel movie? Kids these days don’t know what they are missing. “Smart House” is also at the top of my Disney Channel Original Movie list.

Yawn: Once 9 o’clock hits, it’s bed time. I am very much an early riser thanks to my internal alarm clock so to maximize sleep time, I hit the hay early. I wish my younger self knew to appreciate sleep/nap time!

Zambia: Zambia has my heart. I traveled there twice while at Gonzaga to work with teachers and do various servant leadership projects. Please add Africa to your travel list; you won’t be disappointed.

 

Thanks for sticking with me all the way to Z! I challenge you to do an “ABCs of Me” post, too!

 

Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card!

Okay, so I wish I came up with that catchy saying up above, but alas, I did not (you can thank “Arthur” for that!). I love reading. I’ve always loved reading. The best days were the ones where Mom piled me and my two sisters in the car and took us to the local library. I could peruse those shelves for hours! We’d each come home with an armful of books and then the hardest part came– which one to start with?! My tried and true method (which I still use today) was to open each book and read the first paragraph. Whichever book hooked me became the winner.

I’ve recently made the switch from physical books to Kindle books (thanks to the boyfriend who won his eliminator fantasy football league! 😉 ). While I miss holding a real book in my hands, my book addiction was getting way too expensive and I found that the e-library had everything on Earth I’d ever want to read. My Kindle goes with me everywhere. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend it!

I am hoping to review a couple books each month. I’ve been reading more than usual lately since I had three weeks off from work (teacher perk!), so here we go!:

The Things We Bury by Allen Eskens

thethingswebury

I love a good thriller. I feel like this genre has really picked up after the success of books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (I recommend both!). The Life We Bury follows college student Joe Talbert who was been assigned with writing a biography on an elderly person. He is paired up with Carl, a Vietnam veteran, who is dying of cancer and is living in a nursing home after serving thirty years in prison for being found guilty of rape and murder. Joe goes on a search for the truth all while dealing with his alcoholic mother and taking on the parental role for his autistic brother.

I am torn about this one. It became a little far-fetched at times (let’s be honest, most thrillers do), but it kept me hooked. I don’t know if I was hooked because it was good or because I was just waiting for Joe to figure it out so that I could be done reading. It also made me never want to visit the snow again (read and find out why).

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

november9

Oh my gosh, I got so emotionally invested in this book you have no idea! This is the second Colleen Hoover book I’ve read (and oh my gosh, I got so emotionally invested in that book, too!) and I’m pretty sure I read it in less than a day. I texted my best friend/college roomie, Whitney, so many times while reading. I think each text was simply an “OH MY GOSHHH!!” If you’ve never read anything by Colleen Hoover, do yourself a favor and add her to your list. I haven’t read them all but so far my favorites are this one, It Ends with Us, and Confess. (Although Hoover is in the regular fiction section of the bookstore, I’d qualify her more as Young Adult.)

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

herestous_front

Elin Hilderbrand is one of my favorite authors. Each of her books take place on Nantucket (it’s officially added to my wanderlust list) and this one follows three women who are back, with their kids, on the island to say goodbye to their ex-husband (a famous chef) after he dies (yes, the man was married three times). There are a lot of characters to follow and you are transported from one point of view to another so often that it was sometimes hard to catch my bearings. Some characters were likable, some were not at all but overall, I feel like I’ll always recommend Elin Hilderbrand to anyone wanting an easy-breezy, feel-good book. Just be prepared to add Nantucket to your travel list, too!

Any other good books I need to add to my list?!