Monday, December 30, 2013

End of the Year Book Survey 2013!

A couple of weeks ago I came across The Perpetual Page-Turner's 4th Annual End of Year Book Survey- 2013 Edition! and immediately thought, "I need to do this!" Then I accidentally forgot all about that post until I saw it in my likes on Bloglovin. Thank goodness for Bloglovin! So here goes...

1. Best Book You Read in 2013?
It's a tough choice, but I'm going to say The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was my favorite book. I read a number of books this year that I would add to my top favorites of all time. I think what puts The Book Thief above others is the combination of story line, writing style/quality, and having death as a narrator. The book has everything going for it and I never wanted it to end. I will definitely be reading more books from Markus Zusak.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going to Love More but Didn't?
It's a tie between Ender's Game and Franny and Zooey. I was really excited to finally read both books this year, but they ended up only being so/so for me.

3. Most Surprising (in a Good Way!) Book of 2013?
I was really surprised by how much I loved Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. When my friend brought over a stack of books to loan me I took one look at the cover and thought, "nah, definitely not my kind of book." I'm so glad I decided to give this book a chance anyways, because it turned out to be much better than I was expecting.

4. Book You Read in 2013 That You Recommended to People Most in 2013?
The Book Thief, although for the first half of the year I recommended The Art of Racing In the Rain to quite a few people as well.

5. Best Series You Discovered in 2013?
The Shatter Me series.

6. Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2013?
In terms of authors I had no idea existed before this year, I'd say Tahereh Mafi.

7. Best Book That Was Out of Your Comfort Zone or Was a New Genre For You?

I never in my life thought that I would read and enjoy a romance novel, but I actually liked the Losing It series by Cora Carmack.

8. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2013?

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. 

9. Book You Read in 2013 That You Are Most Likely to Re-read Next Year?

Anna and the French Kiss. I was ready to re-read the book 10 minutes after putting it down, but I am forcing myself to wait until next year. I want to re-read Looking for Alaska as well.

10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2013?
I love the cover for The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

11. Most Memorable Character in 2013?

I think it's a tie between Alaska Young and Hans Hubermann. The feels. Both of these characters had a major impact on me and I was not prepared.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2013?

The Book Thief. Not only was Markus Zusak's story writing extraordinary, but his use of language was beautiful. It's like each piece of the puzzle was beautiful on it's own and then he put it together to make something even more dazzling.

13. Book That Had The Greatest Impact on You in 2013?

And no surprise here. The Book Thief, again. Seriously go read the book if you haven't. It's more than just a story about Nazi Germany, it's about family and personal struggle and everything. This book will make you feel all the things.

14. Book You Can't Believe You Waited Until 2013 to Finally Read?

I read so many books this year that have been on my shelf or my to-read list forever, but I'm really happy I finally got around to reading The Hobbit. I can't believe my mom never read me this book as a kid! I loved it!

And because I can't just pick one book; I also can't believe I waited so long to read Anna and the French Kiss and Looking for Alaska.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2013?

“No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention.
Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day.
This is all practice.” - Chuck Palahniuk (Invisible Monsters)

16. Shortest and Longest Book You Read in 2013?
Life Without Principle by Henry David Thoreau was the shortest book I read with 48 pages, and Angels and Demons was the longest book I read with 569 pages.

17. Book That Had a Scene in it That Had You Reeling and Dying to Talk to Somebody About it? (a wtf moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.)

I think Losing It had a lot of wtf moments in it for me or times when I just couldn't stop laughing. *Spoilers* When Bliss first attempts to lose her virginity and uses her non-existant cat as an excuse to get out of the situation last minute, I nearly died. I laughed for a good 10 minutes and immediately texted my friend who had already read the book to discuss it.

18. Favorite Relationship From a Book You Read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)?

These questions are hard. I'm going with Enzo and Denny because there is something extra special about the relationship between a man and his dog.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From an Author You've Read Previously?

Looking For Alaska by John Green.

20. Best Book You Read in 2013 That You Read Based Solely on a Recommendation From Somebody Else?

There's a few books that I read for school earlier in the year that I would have never picked up myself. In terms of non-school related books, I don't think I would have ever read Adulting if my friend hadn't recommended it to me.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Does general fiction count? I don't think I read any genre within that category more than another.

22. Newest Fictional Crush From a Book You Read in 2013?

Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss. It seemed inevitable, besides the fact that I totally envisioned him looking like Olly Murs, St. Clair makes you feel all the emotions. He's the kind of character you want to help, but not the bad boy kind you want to change, the good kind that just need a hug. Plus he's British and i can't help myself.

23. Best 2013 Debut You Read?

Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown. Based off Brown's successful blog, the book is a compilation of steps on how to conduct your life as an adult. The book is perfect for any post-grad and/or anyone who's in their early-20's.

24. Most Vivid World/Imagery in a Book You Read in 2013?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman contained some fantastic imagery. The story really jumped out at me and I still feel the need to make something artistic based off of the novel.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun to Read in 2013?

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was quirky and quick, just what I was expecting. It was a fun read.

26. Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Oh man, I cry so easily, there's definitely more than one book. Looking For Alaska, Everything is Illuminated, The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Last Lecture, The Book Thief, Faking It, Anna and the French Kiss. I feel like I cried/almost cried during other books, but I really can't remember at this point.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year or When it Came Out?

None that I can think of. I tend to read books that are/have been popular.

And out of the optional questions...

- New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered in 2013?

I haven't read many book blogs before this year. The Perpetual Page Turner (who made this survey) has probably been my favorite discovery in that genre.

- Did You Complete Any Reading Challenges or Goals You Had For 2013?
Yes! My goal for the 2013 Reading Challenge on Goodreads was 30 books and I've read 34 books at the moment. I'm currently reading The Da Vinci Code and Something Blue, which will both hopefully be finished before the first of January.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I can't believe it's already the 20th of December. Where has this month gone? Where has this year gone? Luckily, I have the majority of my Christmas shopping over with (there's only one person left) so I haven't felt the pre-Christmas pressure as much within the last week. Tomorrow is our family Christmas for my dad's side of the family. Unfortunately I'm on call for work, but I'm hoping that it doesn't become one of those rare days I actually have to work. Hopefully tomorrow I can sit back with the family and....

It's been non-stop snowing outside for what seems like the past couple of weeks. I love when everything is white and pretty outside but I'm definitely sick of shoveling the driveway every day.

Tonight I have plans to see White Christmas at the State Theater with my friend Sandy. We had dinner the other night and both decided we couldn't miss out on our holiday movie tradition. You know there's nothing I love more than seeing Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye pretending to be the Haynes sisters.

Do you guys have any holiday traditions with friends? Do you have separate Christmas (or other holidays) for your different families?


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baking Cookies

There has been a long standing tradition for my brother and I to bake sugar cookies with my grandparents for the holidays. When we were younger it would end up being an all day ordeal of baking and decorating, followed by hot dogs roasted in the fireplace and a ride around town to see all the lights (complete with popcorn). We take traditions very seriously in my family (can you tell?) Over the years things have changed. My grandparents would bake the cookies before we got there and we no longer packed into the car for a night drive, but we always managed to make cookie decorating happen.

We cheated and bought the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix.

Why does dough always have to be such a challenge?

This year we hadn't planned anything, until I casually mentioned making cookies to my mom one night. Personally I favor peanut butter cookies over the sugar cookies when it comes to taste, but you don't decorate PB blossoms. It wasn't the same without my grandma there. Even though the last few years she has needed lots of help making the dough, her decorating skills were still spot on. Nothing is quite the same after you lose someone, but it's nice keeping up traditions even in their absence. I'm incredibly thankful I have so many wonderful memories with her from years past.

I'm bummed I didn't get any pictures of after we decorated the cookies. I was too busy licking frosting off my fingers. My grandpa must have gotten rid (or we used up) some of the sprinkles from years past because we typically have a surplus of decorating options, but we could only find a few different kinds of sprinkles this year. Instead we improvised with M&M's and some food coloring. Our cookies definitely looked different than anything we'd made in the past, but sometimes deviation leads to the best surprises.

The mixer also broke while we were making the frosting so that was an added challenge. We had to adapt to the old school ways of hand mixing. Not as fun as it looks, but my right arm got a great work out today.

Do you have any cookie making traditions? What holiday cookies are your favorite?


Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Favorite Christmas Movies

I love holiday movies and luckily there's plenty of places to find them on TV this time of year. Many Christmas movies hold special memories for me (as they do for many), so I decided to share a few of my favorites. Besides White Christmas being at the top of the list, I wouldn't exactly say these are in any particular order.

1. White Christmas: I love this movie for many reasons. One: the music, two: the dancing, three being that my grandparents introduced me to the movie. There were certain things I could only do at my grandparents' houses growing up, mostly because they owned something my family did not. The limit of those things helps make them extra special through the years. Growing up, my grandpa and grandma Strong were the ones who owned White Christmas on VHS and once I had seen its magic there was no tearing me away. I fell in love with the dancing, the dresses, and their voices. I spent hours contemplating Vera-Ellen's tiny waist and the tone of Bing Crosby's voice. The movie is everything I love wrapped into a wonderful Christmas package.

2. Elf: This movie is always good for a laugh. There are so many hilarious quotes come from this film. Plus I love Will Ferrell.

3. It's a Wonderful Life: What better way to remind yourself how wonderful life really is. Value the life you have! An amazing movie that will warm your heart in the winter cold.

4. The Year Without a Santa Claus: Let's face it the Misers and their little song and dance is what puts this movie above the other holiday claymation movies (at least in my mind). I wanted to add all the wonderful claymation and animated holiday movies like Rudolph and Frosty to this list, but there just wasn't enough room. Also, Santa is important.

5. The Santa Clause: It came out when I was a kid and we have watched it as a family a lot over the years. Some good memories are tied to this movie as well. I wish they would have stopped after the first one though, 2 and 3 aren't that great.

6. Home Alone: This was another movie I could only watch at my grandparents. Home Alone was the one movie I always (literally every single trip) watched when we visited my grandparents in Grand Rapids. I have no idea how many times I have watched this movie (or really any of these) but it's a lot. I always tear up at the end, it never fails.

7. Love Actually: Speaking of crying, this is another movie that gets me going. Love, man. There's so many good aspects to this movie. I mean it's a bunch of famous English actors with lovely story lines. Love Actually is the type of movie that makes you simultaneously laugh and cry, it does stuff to your emotions.

8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Animated Short): I'm not the biggest fan of the newer movie with Jim Carrey, which is why I felt the need to be specific about this choice. The animated movie is another classic in my house. It was one of the movies we had taped on VHS along with a bunch of other holiday movies. I wish we still had a VHS player because one of my favorite things about watching our old tapes instead of them on TV now is the old commercials.

9. Miracle on 34th Street: I'm putting the newer version on this list mostly because it was the one I watched as a child (even though it is equally as good if not slightly better). I didn't actually watch the original version until a few years ago. Anyway, another great movie about the importance of Santa Claus, as a symbol for hope, faith, and all the good that can happen during the holiday season.

10. The Polar Express: There's a lot of Christmas traditions in my family, and one of those special traditions is my mom reading The Polar Express on Christmas eve to my brother and I. My mom has done this ever since I can remember. We still do it, even though both my brother and I are in our twenties and no longer believe in Santa. When the movie came out we all went to go see it together. I love Tom Hanks and everything that was added to the story.

Honorable mentions include,

- The Holiday: I love this movie (it might even rank up there with all time favorites), but I watch it all year round. I don't limit this movie to the holiday time period like most of the movies listed above, so I'm putting it here instead.

- It Happened on 5th Avenue: I just watched this for the first time last week and felt the need to include it on the list.

What are your favorite holiday movies? Is there anything I need to add to the list?


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Have Courage

We've all heard the phrase, "life is what you make of it," but I like to believe that life is what you dare to make of it. Any person can live, but not all people experience life to the same extent. The things that scare us are often the things we have the least regret doing. By living courageously, we are constantly expanding our view of the world and diminishing the fears that hold us back.

I'm not saying being courageous is easy or at all comfortable, but the outcome is usually worth it. You can't let fear hold you back. Whether you're afraid of a job, or a roller coaster, or going out with friends, or running a 5k, whatever it is, face those fears head on.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Calming Effect

I discovered London based artist Sam Garrett via Youtube recently and have loving the mellow vibe of his music. Garrett's sound reminds me of musicians like Ben Howard and Mishka, landing comfortably between the two.

If you like these songs, Sam Garrett's EP is available on iTunes and is definitely worth buying.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Playlist

For some reason I thought I had previously posted a winter/holiday themed playlist on this blog, but apparently that has not happened. I normally wait to play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but because the holiday falls so late this year I am officially starting today.

  • Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by Nsync
  • A Mad Russian's Christmas by Trans Siberian Orchestra
  • Last Christmas by Jimmy Eat World
  • Snow by Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas by Michael Buble
  • White Christmas by Otis Redding
  • Away in a Manger by Bright Eyes
  • Waltz of the Snowflakes by Tchaikovsky
  • Christmas in the Room by Sufjan Stevens
  • Fireside by Jim Brickman
  • Christmas Lights by Coldplay
  • Christmastime by Smashing Pumpkins
  • It Snowed by Meaghan Smith
  • Kiss Me at Midnight by Nsync
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Jack Johnson
  • Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans Siberian Orchestra
  • Wish List by Neon Trees
  • Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! by Dean Martin
  • Run Run Rudolph by Chuck Berry
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Frank Sinatra
  • Blue Christmas by She & Him
  • Seasons of Love by The Original Broadway Cast of Rent
  • The First Noel by Bright Eyes
  • Silent Night by Josh Groban
  • The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
  • Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
  • The Suite from the Polar Express by Alan Silvestri
  • Winter Wonderland by Aretha Franklin
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by She & Him
  • Christmas Auld Lang Syne by Bobby Darin

I love this time of year and had a lot of fun putting this list together. I also made a Playlist for this on Youtube so you guys can listen to all of these songs too if you'd like! Happy Holidays everyone!!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Memorable Day

Today was supposed to be a day of work.
Instead it was a day of family.
Of remembrance.
Of holiday cheer.

Today, despite monetary loses,
I gained something valuable.
I helped put up a Christmas tree.
I watched a blanket of white descend from the sky
While perched on a soft seat in a warm house.

Today, when I finally left that house,
I faced the wind and the cold
With a hat and a scarf.
I ate a late lunch with the people I love.
With the people that keep me warm.

Today was full of Doctor Who,
And mac and cheese balls,
And oversized containers of hard cider,
And delicious peppermint cookies mailed from a friend.

Today was pretty ordinary.
It was nothing extravagant.
But today was a day of good things
Which made today a memorable day.

I hope all your days are memorable ones.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Anxiety Gladiators

I've been obsessed with the poem Anxiety Group by Catalina Ferro for months now. I seriously can't stop watching it. Although my anxiety problems are not at the same level as most of the behaviors she describes, I can sympathize with a lot of these feelings. It's kind of nice to know that when you're fighting something you're not the only one fighting it (or fighting for it).

"These people who fight through every day like fucking gladiators who fight demons worse than you, and I can dream of, just because they want so badly to live. To hold on. To love. Because you can’t be this afraid of losing everything if you don’t love everything first, because you have to have a soul-crushing hope that things will get better to be this afraid of missing it."

You never know what kind of battles other people are facing. It's important to realize some people are working through problems that aren't easily fixed, and they can't just make these issues go away.

I just really love this poem.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Why are you so....?

Part of being human is the inherent fact that we are all different. No two people (not even identical twins) are the same. I personally believe our individualism should be celebrated. Think about it. Isn't it cool that despite the enormous number of people on this plant we are all still different?

Instead it seems that we are taught to wipe away our uniqueness or dislike the features that make us stand out amongst our peers. We can't seem to accept that some people have small frames and some people have larger ones. That some people's metabolism works at a dissimilar pace than our own. That some people have small hands or big feet and others have long legs or big thighs. Genetics have always separated us and yet humans have refused to acknowledged that as a good thing. Society has taught us to judge each other by how closely we come to the "ideal" body. We try to blend in with one another, casting away our differences. We question the reason a person looks a certain way when the answer is often simple, heredity. It's just the way the world works.

Two of my favorite YouTubers, Zoella and SprinkleofGlitter, seem to be great advocates for loving yourself and being kind to people (in a general sense and when it comes to other's bodies). Both women, although different, are equally as gorgeous and seem to possess a certain amount of confidence with their bodies. Recently, the two women made an awesome video about the question, "Why are you so skinny?" I loved their approach to the question and definitely agree with both of their expressed opinions. The way you phrase a question/statement can make all the difference. It's important to be aware of the effect words can have on an individual. If there is something more going on, and you are concerned about a friend, there are better ways to approach that kind of situation. Making rude comments and assumptions can leave an everlasting effect.

"If you're happy and you're healthy, then screw what everybody else thinks."

I am short. I have small hands and small feet. My legs are short and my thighs have always touched (even when I was skinniest). My spine curves in weird ways. My stomach fat is a little larger on one side than the other. My jaw is crooked and no part of my body is even remotely symmetrical on either side. Yet this is the way I was born. It's not ideal but it's what makes me, me. I have spent a lot of time being unhappy and dissatisfied by my body. I have struggled to see any part of myself as pretty because according to the magazines and the research, I'm not. Listening to people call other women/men ugly or fat for being a certain way, also has effects on the people you say those things around (not just the people you say them about). We should be going farther out of our way to say positive things about each other rather than making negative comments.

I'm certainly not entirely happy about the way my body looks, but I try to find one thing I like every day. I have learned to see my differences as positive thing, rather than as a burden. There's no way, besides possibly plastic surgery (and even that won't solve everything), that I will end up with the "perfect" body. I figure I might as well try to be happy in my own skin, rather than waste my whole life wishing I was something else. I wish society spent more time teaching people to love their bodies rather than focusing on what we should change. Embrace the parts that make you unique. Love yourself, no matter what size, shape, or amount of "imperfections" you have. Lastly, don't forget to act in a positive way towards others too. Tell your friends, children, significant others that they look lovely each and every day. Saying nice things never causes as much harm as saying something derogatory.

Now I've basically become the one girl from Mean Girls who says she wants to "bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles," but I found this video to be so important.

What's one thing you love about your body?


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Once A Dancer...

Last night I was feeling anxious and just could not sleep. After tossing and turning for about an hour, I decided to open up my computer and watch some ballet. My two "go-to" videos are The Nutcracker with Macaulay Culkin (which I grew up on and it will never get old) and Sylvie Guillem's performance in Cinderella (which is what I ended up watching). I've always been amazed by Guillem's extensions and performance style, not to mention I absolutely love the Opera national de Paris' choreography. There's this really great part when she's dancing with the broom and sweeping it around in circles; I'm always mesmerized by the fluidity of the movements.

When I was younger, I was obsessed with analyzing professional ballerina's performances and teaching myself different solos. Slowly, as I grew older and realized dancing professionally was not in the cards for me, I stopped searching the internet for ballet videos. I gave up on something I was truly passionate about. Lately I've started to notice just how much I feel like I'm missing without dance in my life.

But deep down I know that dance will never really leave me. I still do pirouettes in my kitchen and choreograph dances in my sleep. When I hear certain songs, they will always flood me with memories of dancing. I was back at my old studio last weekend for a friend's Bachelorette Party and it still felt like returning home after a few years of being away. Dancing will always make me feel alive. It helps me focus. It gives me strength and hope. It makes me feel like I'm creating something positive and beautiful. Dance has always given my body a purpose. It reminds me to be thankful for these imperfect bones because despite being imperfect I'm still able to move.

Once a dancer, always a dancer. Whether I'm actually taking classes or not, I will never stop dancing.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Starry Lights

So I just ordered the Amber Lights on Copper Wire version of these Starry String Lights from Restoration Hardware. I'm so beyond excited to decorate with these for the holidays (and all year round). 

Also Restoration Hardware is offering a 20% of discount through today if you use the code: FRIENDS at check out. Get them while they last!


Monday, November 11, 2013

A Day In Pictures (and words)

I woke up this morning to snow. Yes snow is beautiful and wonderful during the holiday season, but I'm not excited for slippery roads and shoveling in the cold for the next five months.

After breakfast I finally decided to get ready to go downtown. I need to find a dress for a friend's upcoming wedding and wanted to get a jump start on some Christmas shopping. 

Even after bundling up, I was freezing during my walk. It might be time to start driving places again (sad face). I think I was meant to live in a warmer climate.

I found this sweater while thrift shopping over the summer (no regrets there); it's super comfy and fits perfectly. Paired with my new denim leggings (I hate the word jeggings) from American Eagle, as well as some trusty SmartWool socks. Topped off with my favorite H&M hat (that I've had since high school) and the new J. Crew Outlet scarf.

After throwing on a jacket and boots I took the trail along the water (chilly but still breathtaking). There was also considerably less amount of snow here, but by this time the sun was starting to peak through the clouds and the snow was starting to melt.

After coffee and a very unsuccessful shopping adventure, I came home to warm up. The day was wrapped up with a nice dinner with the family and a trip to Home Depot to look at paint colors. I'm thinking blue and/or grey (the picture really doesn't show off the colors well).

Hope everyone else had a nice day. Time for some sleep!


Thursday, November 7, 2013


Let go and embrace your identity. So much of my life has evolved around liking what others have liked or reiterating what other people have already said (hell, that's basically what I'm doing now). It's perfectly okay to enjoy the same thing as other people, but it's also important to say, "you know what, I like this instead."

I've really been thinking and struggling with this notion lately, since I've noticed how much I've let other people influence my interests in the past. As I've been questioning more and more what direction I want to take for a career, I've really struggled to strip down all the layers of influenced over my identity. My goal in this is to find where my true passions lie and what really excites me to move forward. I don't want to settle for a career or a life that is someone else's. I want to find something that I fit into and a life that I am passionate about.

If you're struggling to find your identity, don't be afraid to let go of all that has influenced you. It's never too late to be your own person. That doesn't mean you have to be different in every aspect of life, but just be aware of where your true feelings lie. Don't agree to something just because you think it will make you "cooler" in other people's eyes. Wear the clothes you like. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Have your own opinions and don't be afraid to share them. Live your life for you, as you.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October Books

I finished a total of six books in October, which finished off my goal of thirty books total for the year. Hopefully I have time to read with the additional workload now. I have been reading more and more "romance novels" lately (which I never thought would happen). They're nice mindless books that are fast and easy reads for in between more serious reads.

My October reads were:

-Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

At first I was worried Something Borrowed was going to be exactly like the movie (which I had already seen), but it ended up have enough differences to still make the book worth reading. Overall it wasn't my favorite book of the month, but I would recommend it to people wanting a more romantic type book without actually reading a "romance novel."

-Finding It by Cora Carmack

So *spoiler,* the plot is basically the same as Chasing Liberty. I was mad at first after figuring things out, but I guess it's not that different than the predictable plots of the previous books in the series. Plus even with all of that I still really liked the book. Kelsey spends the summer after her college graduation traveling Europe (basically what I wish my life involved post grad). After months of traveling alone, Kelsey is starting to get tired of her all night bar hopping and one night stands, that is until Hunt decides to show her what a real adventure is like. Can someone take me on an adventure across Europe?

-Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in the Shatter Me series. One of my friends loaned this to me over the summer and I had put off reading it not knowing much about the book. I hate to admit that I judge a book by it's cover, but this one wasn't doing anything for me. Little did I know, there was some truly awesome writing inside. It definitely took me some time to get used to Mafi's style, but page by page it grew on me. I am a lover of metaphors and Mafi uses them like it's her job (which I guess it kind of is...) People may argue that it's a bit excessive, but you won't hear any complaining from this girl. Besides just a general love for the way the book is written, I enjoyed the plot. I especially liked the realistic explanation of how things came to be that way; it certainly seems like a plausible future for our country (or Earth in general).

-Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

I want to preface this by saying Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books and I thought I would love Franny and Zooey in the same way, but I left this book feeling very confused. The book wasn't anything special for me. Though the book is relatively short (only 200 pages) it took me a ridiculously long time to get through. There wasn't anytime during reading that I "just couldn't put it down," in fact it was more of a desire not to pick it up. Maybe the timing wasn't right and I should have waited until I was in the mood to read this type of story, but I just kept seeing if it would get better. I still like Salinger's writing style, but it wasn't fitting for Zooey's 160-ish no-break section. I liked the whole point of the story but the execution was a little brash. In the end, the book sort of let me down.

-Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Just another new adult novel to add to the list. I was ready to give up on this book at first, but I decided I needed to stick it out a little longer. I'm glad I didn't stop reading because I did end up enjoying the story later on (it took some time though). The writing wasn't anything special and some of the sex scenes later on got a little awkward, but other than that I loved the Simon "Wallbanger"character. Obviously the book was written to make Simon the best part of the story (honestly I probably wouldn't have continued reading it otherwise). Despite my constant eye-rolling about Caroline's "missing O" and the "giving good jaw" comments, the story had good build up and the her cat was pretty funny (although I'm not one for pussy jokes *cringe*). In the end, I would only recommend this to women who are okay with giving up quality writing for sex appeal. Like most novels in the genre, it's an easy fantasy to indulge yourself in.

-Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This book was perfect. Anna and the French Kiss was the best combination of adorable and real life frustration that at some point or another effects everyone. For Anna's senior year, her dad sends her to a boarding school in France. In my mind this is a dream come true, but Anna resents being sent away from her life in Atlanta. Luckily for Anna her life in France is quickly turning around, that is until she falls under St. Claire's spell. I never wanted this story to end and honestly contemplated rereading it right away. Like I said, I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cute, feel good read (not just for teenagers in my opinion).

Side Note: I started getting really into Olly Murs while reading this book, which also turned into me imagining him as St. Claire. Olly seemed to fit the description well and it just sort of happened that my mind overlapped them without me even realizing it at first. I think it made my love for both Anna and the French Kiss and Olly Murs bigger than they would have been seperately.

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For November I've been reading The Hobbit and The Virgin Suicides. After that it'll most likely be Paper Towns and/or The Da Vinci Code.

What books did you read in October? What books are you planning on reading in November?


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Words of Advice: Imagine

I have yet to read Paper Towns but I really like this John Green quote. Imagining things is what gives us hopes and dreams. It allows us to see what we could do and gives us reasons to keep moving forward. Having active imaginations is something that should not be limited to childhood. Being able to come up with a picture or scenario in our minds can help us reach goals by constantly reminding us what we're striving for or what we are capable of.

Lately I've been trying harder to use my imagination in positive rather than negative ways. In the last few years I have spent more time thinking of all the things that could go wrong in my life rather than what could go right. Those negative images not only effect my anxiety level daily, but have hindered progress in certain areas of my life. Picturing myself with an enjoyable job, a gorgeous apartment (that I decorated myself), and a husband I love, instantly makes me feel better about my future. Of course I don't know if all of that is in the cards for my future, but I figure it will make me happier in the present than worrying about the alternatives.

So imagine all the good things because nothing will happen if you don't.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Feeling Good

Today has been the most productive "trying to move myself forward" day that I've had in a very long time. Maybe yesterday's incredibly off day has helped amplify today's good mood, but I'll take it. Today is the first day in a long time that I actually felt like I did something important with my time. I've been doing stuff (and things) trying to keep myself busy, but none of it has worked to improve my current state of affairs. Maybe I'm taking small steps, but it was a nice reminder that I am indeed capable of something more, something better.

Even with the distance you can still see how gorgeous the colors look across the bay.

I woke up and went downtown for a muffin, coffee, and a little reading. I just finished Finding It, book three in the Losing It series, by Cora Carmack and am currently in the middle of Shatter Me and Franny and Zooey (I can never read one book at a time). I'll probably write a separate post in the very near future reviewing all of these. Getting coffee, or semi-expensive lattes, every day is probably not the greatest idea, but this has become the little bit of routine in my daily schedule and it feels nice. It's the one thing I feel like I have full control over (which probably doesn't make any sense now that I think about it).

Anyway after finishing my coffee and walking back home, I ran my special errands. I even picked up a nice gift for myself as a "you're doing good, kid" kind of thing (and yes that is how I talk to myself). Since Bath & Body Works was having one of their 2 for $22 sales on three wick candles, I bought the Harvest Gathering and Sparkling Icicles ones. I could have bought more, oh man, so many more, but one must restrain herself. When did candles get to be so exciting?

After the mall came the typical daily things, like dinner and tv shows, topped off by watching The Holiday. Give me Jude Law any day (and Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, and Jack Black). Plus you can't forget the real stars of that movie, the two little girls who play Graham's daughters; those girls are way too adorable. I don't think I could ever get sick of The Holiday, no matter how many times I've seen it. Let's just say it made for a good night.

Hope everyone else's day has been productive and enjoyable.
Did you do something to feel good about today?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Once In A Lifetime

I haven't been able to stop listening to this song lately. I don't know what it is about love songs that keep pulling me back in even with the lack of love interest in my life. I think it's been so long since I've had even a crush on someone I'm convinced I'm trying to fill some sort of gap. Love songs always balance the line of giving me hope and making me sad.

This isn't even the type of music I normally am interested in either (then again, I guess I don't really have a "type" of music), I just really love it. A byproduct of following a plethera of YouTubers is being exposed to the music they love. I found Landon Austin through FleurDeForce, though I was slightly surprised I hadn't checked him out previously by way of Luke Conard.

It's probably one of those songs I'll end up overplaying, be sick of for a year, and then rediscover my love for it again at a later date (this happens often enough). Anyway, I thought I'd share. Hope you guys enjoy!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Funny Halloween Comics

I've seen a lot of cute and funny Halloween appropriate comics floating around lately. They're too good not to share.

I don't know who comes up with stuff like that, but it gets me every time. If you enjoyed these, you should check out the source links for more!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Go, Do

I want to be more of a doer and less of a thinker. I spend all my time sitting in my room thinking about all the goals and things I wish I was doing. So much of what holds me back is my lack of money, but there's ways to have adventures without spending a lot. People have been doing it for centuries. Even if it's just for a hike, or a drive, or a short trip to a different part of the state. I vow to spend less time thinking and more time doing. I hope you all do the same.

In order to make dreams come true you have to be creative.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday's Thankful

My apologies for not writing much lately. I have recently lost someone very close to me and have been spending some much needed time with my family. Hopefully soon I can get back into the swing of things. For now I leave you with a list of things I'm thankful for on this Sunday evening.

  • photographs and memories that can never be taken away
  • friends and their ability to say the right things
  • family (always)
  • growing up with a grandmother who was so loving and always had a way of making me feel special
  • fall colors
  • 50% of sales this past weekend
  • still being able to find things to laugh at
  • this video
Love you grandma. Always and forever.

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I also want to take the time to give a big congratulations to my friend Samantha for running the Chicago marathon. This was her first marathon and she rocked it! Wish I had been there, but I was cheering from TC.