Book Reviews: March

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I'm so close to finishing Erin's challenge, I can taste it!  Right now I'm at the mercy of the library.  My last books are on hold and there are a lot of people ahead of me.  I think I may have to change one of my books again :(

This was my second try with this book.  The first time I just wasn't in the mood for it, so I figured I'd try again for Erin's Challenge.  I still had a  hard time getting through the first half of the book, but once I hit the second half and things started coming together, I couldn't put this book down!  It is such a great story about friendship and the horrors of war.  I can't recommend this book highly enough, especially for fans of WW2 Historical Fiction.  Just be ready with a box of tissues!  ... 4/5 stars
Read for Book Challenge By Erin

I totally jumped on the bandwagon with this one and I'm so glad I did!  Eleanor herself was a bit of a difficult person - her social awkwardness kind of reminds me of Dr. Brennan in Bones.  But as difficult as she is, you can't help but grow to love her and understand her. I really loved Raymond and Sammy, too - they are great characters and great for Eleanor.  I also give the author credit, it takes a lot for me to not get a "twist" and this one I got it half right and half wrong.  I'd recommend this to people who loved A Man Called Ove or The Storied Life of AJ Fickry.  It's that perfect balance of happiness, sadness, and general life stuff ... 4/5 stars.

I don't know what it is about them, but I generally love books written in the form of letters! I enjoyed this one but it wasn't the best that I've read.  The first 10% ish of the book was good, then it got a bit boring and repetitive until the last 40 pages - then I couldn't put it down.  I loved that it was written in letters, the World War 1 setting, and the characters Tom and Alice.  I also loved the little snippets of "present day" which was actually 1968.  I didn't like the repetitiveness, the journalist self-righteous attitude of Evie's, and her overly aggressive feminism.  I also felt like some of the events were talked about as we would talk about them today, not as someone living through them.  Overall, I was a bit let down by this one, but I did still enjoy it (totally conflicted on this one, obviously) ... 3.5/5 stars
Read for Erin's Challenge  

I don't understand how Fredrik Backman can make even a 90 page novella super good.  Obviously read this in one sitting and loved it.  I hear his other novella is better and I can't wait to read it ... 4/5

I have mixed feelings about this one.  This is another book written in letters, but I really didn't like the way it was done.  It was like she just wrote it in "letter" format because how else would they communicate, but otherwise it was written like any other book.  I mean, I don't typically write out dialogue in my letters.  I enjoyed the characters and really liked the idea behind the book - two people who could never meet because of health issues.  However, it got a bit too sci-fi-ish at the end and it really took away from the book for me.  I don't mind sci-fi, but this book went from contemporary to sci-fi with no warning.   Enjoyment wise, this book was probably a 4 up until the end.  But I just had so many other issues with it that I have to give it a 3 ... 3/5 
Read for Erin's Challenge

Getting Out of Debt: Motivation

Monday, April 9, 2018

I've been working on getting out of debt for almost a year!  That's so hard for me to believe!  We're almost finished paying off debt #3 of 6 and I'm so excited about it!  I have a lot of things motivating me but these are a few of the biggest motivators (besides travel).  These are the things that keep me going.

1.  Debt is friggin' annoying
I mean, lets be real here.  No one likes making payments, and no one likes when half of their paycheck goes out the window the second it hits the account.   Its annoying and frustrating and I'm over it.  Simple as that.

2. Having to work multiple jobs that I hate
I've been working two jobs pretty much since we got to Fort Drum.  I lucked out with Friday's - there are definitely things I don't like, but I've met some great people working there and we have a good time.  However, I haven't liked any of my other jobs for one reason or another.  The first one was mind numbingly boring, the second one was management, and the one I'm at now is my coworkers constant negativity and drama.  I can't wait to only work one job and be able to take the time to find a job I actually enjoy.  I'd be perfectly happy right now if I could just work at Friday's, but I need two jobs to knock out this debt.

3. Having no money when you make plenty
We've always made enough money for us to live comfortably and have extra, but having all these payments makes it seem like we hardly make any money.   I want to be able to use my money for things like retirement, travel, and general fun things.  I want to be able to save cash and buy a car without paying extra in interest.  I want to be able to make my money work for me instead of flying out the window.

4. Being able to buy a house after the military 
This is the biggest one for both of us.  We're already ready to own our own home and we still have 3.5 years left in the Army!   When Josh gets out we plan to rent for a year to make sure we like the area we choose to live in and to make sure we have good, secure jobs.   After that, we want to buy something we could live in forever.  We want to put 20% down at the very least.  Once we're debt free, we can start saving, and I can't wait!

Life Update: March

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Why do I live where winter never ends? UGH!  March has been a super long month for us, partially because it feels like winter is never going to end and the snow is never going to melt.  It seems like every time the snow starts really melting, we get more snow.

Anyways ... For me, March was another month of lots and lots of work.  It got to the point where I was super burnt out!  There was a day where I spent the whole day holding back tears because I was so effing tired.  The week of St. Patrick's Day, I ended up giving away some shifts and only worked 1 double (by double I mean work both jobs in 1 day).   It was hard to give up that money, but I needed it for my mental health!

As far as blogging - I'm feeling a bit frustrated.  I haven't written much, not because I have nothing to say, but because I start writing and it just comes out a mess. Sometimes I think that Vlogging would be better for me for certain topics, but I hate seeing myself on camera.

photo added for cuteness factor ;)

Josh has had quite the month as well.  He went to the promotion board in the middle of the month and got his promotable status (E4 to E5), and had a PT (physical) test which he passed.   After that fun was over, he left for training for a month (I'll tell you where when he gets back).  He actually had to leave a few days early because he was one of the "lucky" ones chosen to fly out with the helicopters which was a 5 day trek, which has turned in to a 10 day trek (they're still not at their destination as of today).

Nothing exciting in March - it was overall just a blah kind of month.  Thankfully, April is looking better.  The snow has started melting and spring cleaning is happening in this house right now and I'm loving it!

NYC: December 2017

Monday, March 26, 2018

My best friend, Alex lives all the way across the country in Arizona.  We get to see each other once a year - twice if we're lucky.   Mid November she called to tell me she would be at her parents house in DE for a few days and wanted to meet up in NYC.  I hesitated for a minute because getting there would be a pain in the ass and I'd spend 10 hours on a bus in one day.   I said yes though, because who knew when we'd be on the same side of the country again.

We were both being dropped at the same bus stop within 10 minutes of each other, but Alex missed her first bus and ended up getting there an hour later.  I went to a coffee shop and read my book while I waited, which was just fine by me (I was reading Evelyn Hugo).  We had no real agenda, but we decided pretty early on that we wanted to do Top of the Rock and see the awesome views from up high.  We went straight there, but they didn't have tickets until 5pm.  That was, unless we wanted to do the Rockefeller Center tour, in which case we would be able to go up at sunset, so that is what we did.   We had a bit of time before our tour and just wandered around in the general area of Rockefeller Center.

Neither of us was that impressed by the tour, but it was only an hour long, and the views were more than worth it!  I'll give our tour guide credit, she was really out going and seemed to really enjoy her job.  Once we got to the top, we probably stayed up there for a good hour taking in the views (there is no time limit at the top!).   As far as views go, I'd definitely recommend Top of the Rock over the Empire State, because you can see the Empire State from Top of the Rock.

Once we were done we decided to go to Shake Shack for some dinner and just walked around for a bit before ending up in Times Square.   After looping back to Rockefeller center to see the tree, we sadly had to call for a Lyft to take us to our respective bus stops.   I'm so glad I went on this trip and had such a great time with my best friend!   I can't wait to be back in NYC in June for BookCon (#nerdalert)!

Erin's Challenge Update

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Since we're about half way through this challenge, I figured I'd share how I'm doing so far.  I've read some great books for this challenge and managed to also tick some off of my 50 States list. 

• 30 points: Read a book that was originally published in a different language than your own

• 30 points: Read a book where most of the action takes place on a form of transportation:
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (01/8/18)

• 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) red cover:
The Royal We by Heather Cocks (01/19/18)

• 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages:
Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict (01/31/18)

• 15 points: Read a book with a character’s name in the title:
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (02/04/18)

• 20 points: Read a book from this list: Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Books with Plot Twists:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (03/04/18)


Book Reviews: February

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Unfortunately this was a bit of a slow month for me as one of the books took forever for me to get in to.  I'm determined to make it up in March, though!

There isn't a single book by this author that I haven't loved!  Her character development is great, her stories are realistic and interesting, and for a YA book, the writing is great!   This wasn't my favorite in the series (it's a series but all books can stand alone), but it was still a solid read and I flew through it.  Highly recommend ... 4/5.
Read for Book Challenge by Erin
Read for 50 States Challenge (Tennessee)  

I think I went into this book with my expectations just a little too high.  I'd heard nothing but great things and it fell a bit flat for me.  The book is split into two parts and the first part took me a week to get through - I found it really slow.  I read the second half in one night because I just wanted to get through it.  I had figured most of it out by then, but there was one twist I didn't see coming.  The second half saved this book from getting a lower rating from me, but overall I just wasn't impressed.  I seem to be in the minority with that opinion, though, so if you like thrillers I'd check it out ... 3/5 
Read for 50 States Challenge (Pennsylvania) 

I enjoyed this book.  It is basically just reinforcing what Dave Ramsey teaches with a few other tips and tricks added in.  This one was written in a way that made the reader feel like they were having coffee with a friend, which made it more enjoyable.  My favorite part of the book was the first part where Rachel explores the "keeping up with the Jone's" game in a world of social media and highlight reels.  I'd definitely recommend this if you are on Dave's plan and looking for reinforcement or encouragement ... 4/5.

Life Update: February

Thursday, March 1, 2018

So remember in my last update I said that I'm glad I didn't do monthly updates in 2017 because it would have basically said "I worked and walked the dogs"?  Well that is pretty much how February went for me.

Although I don't love my new job (I will never love a restaurant job), between it and Friday's I'm making good money and paying off debt, so I'm going to stick with it.   I worked at the hotel for one last weekend because of an event that brings in a lot of people.  When my manager asked if I'd be willing to come back for that one event, I totally said yes for selfish reasons - I really wanted to see the Ice Bars! 

Paying off debt is going great!  We thought we'd get a small tax refund but we actually ended up owing Maryland :( Fortunately between our federal refund and extra savings, we have the money to cover it, it's just a bit of a bummer.  We also spent a good bit of money on Josh's ASU's.  He has to go to the board next month and needed a new jacket, new rank, a bunch of new medals and a few other odds and ends.  Luckily it fell on a good week for me tips wise and we had no issues covering that.  This debt free journey has been so helpful when things like this pop up!

It's been surprisingly warm for February here in NY!  I've starting working really hard on leash training the dogs since the snow has cleared up.  Bolt's husky-ness really shows when it comes to leash training - he is super stubborn and has a mind of his own!  I've seen three different trainers and nothing has worked.  Belle is hard because she is not treat motivated at all, so I have to stop every 10 seconds and wait for her to come to my side which is also frustrating.  I'm not enjoying this at all! But it needs to be done, especially since we plan to do quite a few hikes this summer and would like to take the pups.

I finally started working out again with a home workout program.  I started at the end of the month and it's a 30 day program.  Hopefully I'll be telling you how great the program was during my next update - fingers crossed.

Other than being on a Harry Potter kick (I've watched the series twice this month), nothing really exciting is going on around here.  Hopefully I'll have more to share in March.

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