ABC Reads: Final Update

Monday, December 26, 2016

I've had a bit of a rough reading year.  After moving I found it hard to find the time to read.  It's the end of December and I'm just now finding the time and getting myself on a good schedule.  That being said, it's no surprise to me that I did not finish the ABC Reads Challenge this year.  I am happy that I managed to finish more than half, though.  Here are all the books I read along with links to the reviews.

A: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (5/20/16)
C: The Cellar by Natasha Preston (5/11/16)
D: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (5/23/16) 

E: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (1/13/16)
F: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (5/10/16)
G: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (1/28/16)
H: How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo (05/18/16)

2016 in Review

Friday, December 23, 2016

I was totally prepared to do this long year in review post recapping the highlights of each month ... then I got lazy.  So instead I just got the pictures off of each life update post and added them on to this post.  Each photo is a link to that month's update.  Overall, my 2016 wasn't too bad.  I know it wasn't a superb year for a lot of people, but I can't complain.  It started out a bit difficult with Josh being gone for so long, but I was able to take quite a few trips to see him and explore new areas.  The end of the year hasn't been that great and I hope it's not a foreshadowing of things to come in 2017.

2017 should be an interesting year.  Josh will be gone for the majority of it, again.  I have high hopes for a new job.  The company I worked for in MD got a contract up here and I'm hoping to snag one of those positions.  One of my close friends is getting married and I am a bridesmaid.  I should be starting school in the summer; I've been accepted to the Paralegal program at the local community college.  I will be slowly switching to a vegan diet - full post on this to come.  I'll be posting more of my 2017 goals after the new year.

All of that rambling to say, here is my year in review.   And Merry Christmas, everyone :)

Life Update: November

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

November was probably the most uneventful month I've had this year.  It's consisted of a lot of working and hanging out at home with Bolt. 

We finished up with Bolts doggy classes.  Unfortunately, everything he learned seemed to leave him after we boarded him when we went to MD.  Walking with him is a nightmare again and I feel like we're starting from the beginning and it's frustrating as hell.  At least I know what to do this time. 

We drove home to MD for Thanksgiving with my family.  I hate that drive but it was really nice to be home and around family.   We had dinner with my Dad's side and it was nice to see everyone.  I also managed to catch up with a few friends and so did Josh.   My sister and I went Black Friday shopping which was great because I got most of my Christmas shopping done.

I had my first FRG meeting which, unfortunately, was a lot smaller than I thought and I really didn't have a chance to meet anyone.   I will keep going to the meetings though, and there are a few events I want to try to get involved with if my work schedule allows. 

I did stay up for most of the night to see who would become our next president.  I'm not going to tell you my thoughts on the results but what I will say is that the fact that colleges cancelled classes and offered safe spaces to their students after the elections is exactly why Trump won.  I don't care what side you're on, that crap is ridiculous.

Ugh. Snow.  It's already snowed quite a bit up here and I'm already over it.

Plans For December

Family Christmas Dinner.  My Dad's side of the family always has a huge dinner where everyone gets together at a restaurant (different every year) and catches up.  There have been years where 50 people show up.  It's always a good time and so nice to see everyone!

Figure out something to do for Christmas.  Josh and I wont be going home for Christmas this year, so I'd like to do something.  Even if it's just a nice dinner by ourselves.  We may invite some of the single soldiers, who aren't going home, over for dinner.

Most Popular Posts in November 

 Taking a Break 
101 in 1001: Fourth Check In

Book Reviews: November 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I really don't know what my issue is right now.  I can't seem to get in to anything.  The end of the month was pretty good, I managed to finish a couple books.

 The book wasn't anything particularly unique or earth shattering but it was definitely enjoyable.  The book was light, fluffy, cute and definitely a quick read.  I could have done without the love triangle, though.  It was dumb and I hate love triangles.  And I do wish that the main characters had met earlier in the book.  "Content" and character development wise, I probably would only give this book 3 stars, but since it was so easy to read and enjoyable, I gave it 4. 

I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, it was easy to read and I read it in about a day.  I really liked Pepper and I enjoyed the running aspect of this book.  On the other hand, I really didn't like Jace and I don't feel like him and Pepper really worked.  The book also seems a bit mature for the targeted age group.  I think the pace of the book was really good up until the end, the end felt really rushed.   I'm not mad I read it, but I don't think I'll be reading the rest of the series.

I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

SCWBC16: First Update

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I am disappointed in myself.  I only managed to read two books (putting me at 40 points).  I wanted to read more but I just can't seem to find the time to read lately.  


10 points: Read a brand-new release (something published between November 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017).
Pepped Up by Ali Dean (11/23/16)

30 points:  Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name.
Cinder and Ella by Kelly Oram (11/22/16)


5 points: Freebie!  Read any book that is at least 150 pages long.
Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

10 points: Read a 2016 finalist (longlist or shortlist) for one of the following literary prizes: National Book Award, Man Booker or Man Booker International.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
15 points: Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

15 points: Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you.
The Girl From The Train by Irma Joubert (main character is Jewish)

20 points: Read a modern retelling of a classic
Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

 25 points: Read a book with an alcoholic beverage (neat or cocktail) in the title.
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

30 points: Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Ravensbruck by Sarah Helm

40 points: Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book. For example: You may read a book by Martin Cruz Smith and a book by George R.R. Martin, or a book by James Joyce and a book by Joyce Carol Oates. The shared name must be spelled exactly the same, no variations.
Fallen by Lauren Kate
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Taking a break

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hi friends,  I haven't been feeling very well for the last few days and I've been in a bit of a funk for the last week or so.  So, I'm just going to take a bit of a blogging break until December 1st.  We're going home for Thanksgiving and have a bunch of other stuff happening so I won't really have time anyway.  I'll be posting my first SCWBC update on the first and possibly be back at blogging then or may just take a break until the new year, I'll see how it goes.   Happy Thanksgiving, and talk to you all in December :)

Winchester Mystery House

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

On our last day in California we left camp and headed into San Jose for the night before our flight out the next morning.  We had a choice of things to do and before we left on the trip we all voted on the Winchester Mystery House.  It was a great choice!

This house was built in 1884 and was under construction until Sarah Winchesters death is 1922.  The story is that Mrs. Winchester thought that she was haunted by those who were killed by Winchester Rifles and if she kept building up the house, they wouldn't get to her.  The house was actually 7 stories high until the 1906 earthquake and is now 4 stories.  It is filled with stairways that lead to the ceiling, doors that open to nothing, and windows which are inside the house and look to other parts of the house.  With 160 rooms, this place was definitely huge and easy to get lost in.

 We took one of the guided tours and it was very informative.  The guide did a great job and did not rush us.   He knew his information and was able to confidently answer our questions.  If you are ever in the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, I would highly recommend a visit.

Camp Campbell, California

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Today I'm throwing it back to 2008.  During my first year of college a friend told me about the Alternative Spring Break program - students could spend spring break volunteering at a camp in California.  I knew right away that I wanted to participate in this program and happily spent spring break being a camp counselor to a group of 5th graders.  In California, the fifth graders are required to have some sort of "in the field" science credit or something, so they come to science camp for a week. My girls were a handful at times but I absolutely loved them and really loved getting to know them (I am friends with some of them on FB and they're Sophomores in college, WHAT?).

We volunteered at YMCA Camp Campbell which is located in Boulder Creek, California.  It is in the Redwoods on an absolutely beautiful piece of land!  The staff was excellent and I loved working with them for the week!

 We left Maryland on Saturday and flew in to LAX for a layover then to San Jose.  We got to camp two days before the kids.  We met up with a group from the University of Wisconsin and spent some time getting to know them and spent some time learning what we needed to do when the kids got there.  We played games, did ropes courses, learned camp rules and other fun things.  Those two days were a blast, I loved getting to know everyone!

 Once the kids got there, it was non stop!  We played a game with all of the kids when they first arrived, to get some of their energy out.  After that, we went to "the chapel" where we met the campers who would be in our cabin for the week.  It was interesting because the kids came from two different schools with very different socioeconomic status's, but for the most part, everyone got along.  I had a great group of girls, and while I did have a little bit of trouble trying to get them to interact with the girls from the other school, no one caused any actual problems.

Along with being split into cabins, we also got split into "science groups".  When the kids were at their science lessons, they were paired up with another group, one group of girls and one group of guys.  I was paired with a leader named Kristen, she was great and I still keep in touch with her through Facebook.

We had a bunch of silly songs that we would sing with the campers and one of them was about Banana Slugs which were definitely plentiful at Camp Campbell!   The second to last night we had a super fun game night.  The kids had a blast and this completely wore them out!  Us leaders also had a great time!! It was probably my favorite part of the trip.  Our last night there was campfire night.  We had a great time singing songs and performing skits.  Each cabin had to perform a random silly skit.

 The last day we had our last science lesson and packed up to go home.  After getting everyone packed and ready to go, the kids all got to choose fun activities to do such as the big slide, flag football, etc.  I was in charge of Flag Football and had a great time playing with the kids.

  I would be lying if I said that I didn't cry when saying goodbye to the kids :(  This trip was such a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!  I wish I could just copy my journal into a few blog posts just so I can share the entire experience!  I highly recommend Alternative Spring Break trips to anyone whose college offers them!


Hayley Larue Design