Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 2013 Reading Wrap Up

Oh my, I've had a blast reading this month! Love it when that happens! Here's what I finished:

Obsidian by  Jennifer L. Armentrout: Katy is the new girl in town, and she has moved right next door to a guy who at once both fascinates her and makes her crazy!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: Just as Rory arrives at a London boarding school, someone has decided to start recreating the Jack the Ripper murders, complete with all the gory detail.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson: Marianne spends the summer at the country manor of Edenbrooke and becomes unexpected friends with one of its occupants. (Re-read for me... but I didn't re-review... linked to my original review.)

Descendant by Nichole Giles: Abby comes to a new school and learns that she is not the only Gifted one.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: Tinker Bell narrates the story of how Tiger Lily meets Peter Pan and all their lives are forever changed.

Poison Study by Marie V. Synder: Instead of being executed, Yelena is offered the position as the food taster for the Commander, which could be an even worse situation.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt: After Mallory's boyfriend cheats on her (online) she finds a list made by her grandma in the 60s and she decides to go back to that time by swearing off all technology.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: This is the story of Lina and her family and how they suffer through deportation to Siberia.

My favorites this month? Poison Study and Between Shades of Gray, with Tiger Lily coming in not far behind.

Plans for August: Read Utah books! Stay tuned tomorrow for my detailed plans.

So, how'd things go for you?

Book Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Book: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Fun
From: Bought at Barnes and Noble with gift card

Everyone said this one was good, and .... they were right! Oh my word, they were right!

So, I had no idea it was fantasy! I guess I've only heard everyone saying.. read this book, but I've never actually read a review or anything. I thought it was going to be some mystery/romance thing. In fact, when I went to the store to buy it,  and couldn't find it, had to ask, then they led me to the romance section. What the heck? There was hardly any romance in it at all!

Well.. I mean. Hardly.

Though the romance that WAS there was one of the best things about this book. You know, that slow burning kind? The kind where you know the sparks are flying but both parties are in major denial? The kind where the "bad" guy is the good guy? The kind where if they don't just admit it you think you will scream? Yeah, that kind.

And then there's the strong heroine. You all love that, right? Well, this book has it. She is one tough cookie and learns how to... wait, I forgot the summary bit....

Summary: So there's this girl and she has been in the dungeon and is sentenced to hang or something, but instead, she is offered the position of the food taster. So she accepts and is then taught all about this really ornery, but tall dark and handsome, oh, and brooding... guy. He's quite mean actually. But she gets along with him. No worries there.

So then she starts to sort of make a name for herself and find a niche at the castle. Some guys teach her how to fight, and she becomes quite the strong thing. Meanwhile, she begins to learn stuff about the Commander and stuff about the bad guy that wants to take over. And then she becomes the key to making things all better... maybe. Sort of. NEXT BOOK PLEASE!

Wow, so yeah I was really wrapped up in this one. Perfect story for a summer evening or two of reading!

Bottom line: Loved it!

Other Reviews:

When I closed the book, however, I felt a great deal of excitement for the next in the series and for that I give you a B+ From Dear Author

I read the book in almost one sitting. I had to sleep at some point. From

If you’re in a mood for a fantasy-esque book series filled with castles, murder, intrigue, kissing (OF COURSE), horse riding, magic and everything else you’d want from this type of book, this is for you. From Anna Reads

It’s really entertaining and refreshing to see such a strong female character. From The Broke and the Bookish

Basically kids, if you want a light, sexy fantasy you need to read Poison Study byMaria V. Snyder. It is LEGIT. I promise your pulse will rise as you read this. From Good Books and Good Wine

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Beginnings and Endings

I'm having a hard time thinking of my favorite beginnings and endings! They are ALL good! Mostly. Anyway, so in looking back at some of my more recently (sort of) read books, here are some beginnings and endings that have stood out.

And we aren't talking specific lines here today, but the general overall beginning and/or ending. Know what I mean?

Great Beginnings

1. Under the Never Sky: there's a fire and a very bad guy, and a guy who comes out of nowhere to the rescue!

2. The Way of Kings: you will forget to breathe during this prologue, and also, you'll be introduced to one of the coolest characters you'll ever meet!

3. A Madness of Angels: this book starts with a scene that will have you reeling

4. The Maze Runner: waking up on an elevator that delivers you to a.... maze? And you remember NOTHING? Awesome.

5. Under the Dome: suddenly, a dome appears over your city and a few things just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. BAM!

Great Endings

1. The Scorpio Races: OH. MY. WORD. I can't even.
2. The Hollow City: Wait, WHAT? Did that just happen? Real, or not real?
3. Variant: No! It can't be! There's no way!
4. Everbound: Nikki! You have lost your mind.
5. Just One Day: Please, don't end now!!! There's so much to say!!!

I'd love to know what books have your favorite beginnings and endings! Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Book: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre: Fantasy/ Fairy Tale Retelling
For: Classic Double Challenge
From: Bought for Kindle

Guys, I wasn't sure about this one at first! It was a little hard for me to get into and I wasn't sure I'd stick with it. I felt like there was a lot of telling and no showing, and I wasn't sure I cared about anyone at all, not Tink, not Tiger Lily, not Tik Tok.

But then.... something happened and it all changed and I suddenly became very invested and once I picked it up again, I finished it in just a day or two and then couldn't stop thinking about it!

How strange is that for a reaction to a book? I'm not sure what's going on here!!

So the first bit that was a little boring for me was all the world setting, letting us know that everything was from Tinker Bell's point of view as she follows Tiger Lily around. There was much setting establishment going on, and it seemed to take forever. During this time, Tiger Lily rescues some dude from a ship wreck and her whole village is aghast and appalled. And I wasn't sure what this dude had to do with anything.

But then, finally, we get to Peter Pan. And I think that's when things start getting interesting, and things start happening and things start becoming a bit more crazy.

It was fun to see the familiar characters we know put into this different (and yet familiar) setting. Peter Pan does lead a gang of lost boys, they are on the run from Captain Hook, everyone fears them, though they really are quite harmless. Tiger Lily strikes up a friendship with them, even though it's pretty much forbidden for her to do so and so of course the sparks fly between her and Peter Pan, which causes all sorts of problems back home. And course there are crocodiles and deadly mermaids and an island that contains them all!

And then Wendy comes and ruins everything. And the dude that Tiger Lily has rescued gets better and really ruins everything. And of course Captain Hook... he always ruins everything. (Even though.. why do I always feel sorry for him?)

Well, and so I got used to the lyrical style of this book and ended up loving it. I loved the re-telling that it was and found it all to be quite... dare I say it... poignant! Yep. That's what it was indeed.

(And now I need to go finish the original book, where a book mark has been half way through it for years now!)

Bottom line: A really awesome and fascinating retelling of the classic Peter Pan story.

Other Reviews:

The ending, as I said, is heartbreaking, but also happy. From Annette's Book Spot

It’s been weeks since I closed Tiger Lily with one of the most content sighs I’ve had all year, and yet I’m still struggling to find the words to describe something so beautiful in its story, characters, and words. From Book Harbinger

At it's heart, it's a story of first love, and Anderson captures all the turbulence of that perfectly. From Book Nut

And if this Tinker Bell was a little more serious than I expected and this Tiger Lily a little more unbridled and fierce, well, that only made me love them more. From Angieville

The writing is powerful and lyrical and even though it didn't end how I necessarily wanted it to, I believed it, and that really matters. From The Book Nest

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Book Review: Descendant by Nichole Giles

Book: Descendant by Nichole Giles
Genre: Fantasy
For: Fun
From: Bought for my Kindle

This was one of those books where I sort of went up and down in my liking of the story. Sometimes I really liked it, and sometimes I was liking it not so much. Sadly, I've waited too long to write my review and now can't remember all the reasons why! But I'll try.

So, this is the story of Abby who has just moved to Jackson Wyoming following the strange and mysterious death of her grandmother. She is Gifted, with the powers of healing and visions but she is just barely learning how to use them. When she comes to this new place, she meets some kids who she finds out are also Gifted and they go on an adventure to prevent the dark powers being unleashed and taking over the world.

The thing I most enjoyed about this story was the flashbacks to how Abby was connected to another life. Very fun, and that other life was a really cool fantasy life and all quite fascinating. I would have liked more of it!

I think the thing that bugged me most about this story was the sort of insta-love that some of us get annoyed with. Yes, the love thing happened really fast in this one! (But there's actually a reason for that!) And then they went off on a cross country trip adventure, and I always have issues with that because I can't imagine 16 (or 17) year olds actually ever doing this. I mean, I KNOW the book is fantasy and all, but still, when teenagers do these kinds of things, I'm always thinking, yeah, right.

But the story was very exciting and intense and the ending was crazy and had some twists that I enjoyed and wow, it was all quite the thing! So because of that, in the end, I'm giving it a pretty good rating after all and I look forward to more.

Bottom line: Fun exciting story, really, it was!

Other Reviews:

I really liked Abigail and Kye’s relationship a lot. I wanted them to actually have more romantic scenes, because that was where the book shined. From Books of Love

It’s a never been done before take on magic and the like, and it’s definitely a fast read! From Tar Heel Bibliobabe

WOW just WOW. When I started this book it was like BAM, EMOTIONS! From Read-a-holicZ


Just shortly after reading this book, the author came to the library with a couple of other authors, and so I took a picture!
Tristi Pinkston
Michelle Davidson Argyle
Nichole Giles

They talked about writing romance, and even though the audience was very very small, they got a pretty good discussion going about all sorts of fun romantic topics! Now, I need to go ahead and read some books by the other two authors. Stay tuned for those next month during Utah Book Month!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Days 11-15

In which I finish off the last five days of this fun blogging prompt from Good Books and Good Wine.

Day 11: My Five Best Blog Posts

Okay, so I just looked and I've published, as of this very moment (which means not counting this one, or the couple I have currently scheduled!) 2135 blog posts. And I'm supposed to pick my five favorites? Well...okay. (I do have a little list on my blog here, but if I were to narrow those down even further?)

Discussing Books With Family (in which I write script of a conversation that was had with my family about my bookish pursuits)

90% of Everything is Crap (in which I discuss a Brandon Sanderson speech and wonder why we bash certain books)

Remember that One Time When Markus Zusak Came? (in which I compile quotes from other bloggers about their thoughts on MZ's visit to Provo a few years ago... during Markus Zusak week that I hosted on my blog last October.)

The Trouble with Author Signings (in which I list the ways I make a fool out of myself while meeting authors)

Edgy Books vs. Gentle Books (in which I discuss the difference and the market for each type)

Day 12: Fighting Blogger Fatigue: Here are some of my suggestions:

-- Do things like this fun meme/challenge thing that I'm doing right now.
-- Stop blogging for a bit and read a lot of cool books and then you'll get excited to tell about them.
-- Participate in a read along, or host one
-- Join some other fun thing someone is doing that is blog related, but not necessarily book related
-- Meet and mentor brand new bloggers
-- Start a new blog project that you've thought about, but have been scared to do.
-- Host an event
-- Write a random, rambly or ranty post!
-- Write a post about something you are really passionate about, bookish or not.

Day 13: An Under Appreciated Book

Everyone loves and almost everyone has read The Book Thief by the very brilliant Markus Zusak, but not very many have read his OTHER wonderful book, I Am the Messenger, which you have, without a doubt, seen me hype up here on this blog enough times that I don't need to do it yet again! But, I truly think it is very much under appreciated!

Day 14: Deal Breakers

If I'm reading along and suddenly a book has these things, I'll be...I don't know.. MAD! (I'll still probably finish the book though.)

-- way too much preachy crap
-- a hidden, or not so hidden, agenda
-- much too much abuse
-- much too much torture
-- a stupid "hero" or "heroine"
-- a way too convenient ending
-- a big political speech stuck in the middle of the story
-- symbolism that goes over my head
-- a gazillion F bombs

Day 15: Book Blogging Mentors

I started so long ago that back then, everyone was pretty much new at this thing. But really, I didn't know that, so I looked up to and wanted to be like and learned a lot from:

Kailana from The Written World
Dewey from Hidden Side of a Leaf (sadly no longer with us)
Andi from Estella's Revenge
Chris from Bookarama
Melissa from Book Nut
Raidergirl from An Adventure in Reading

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Movie Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Movie: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Genre: Drama
Starring:  Quvenzhané Wallis (the little girl who was up for an Oscar, remember?)
Rating: PG13
My Rating: One thumb up

I guess, really, it depends on what you watch movies for, you know? This one, I would say, is not to really be watched for its entertainment value, but for its artistic value. You know, one of THOSE. If you are WAY into the artistic stuff, you'll love it. Otherwise, you may be like me and just not get it.

Well, I sort of got it, I think. Let me just say what I got.... so there's this little girl and her dad. They live on an island just out of New Orleans, they call The Bathtub. Her dad is bit (a lot) neglectful, but he learns that he is actually dying. Then one day, a storm comes and the whole neighborhood is flooded, so they are floating around homeless. Then, they get "rescued" and taken to a shelter, but they hate it there. That's when the girl learns that her dad is not right. Then they escape and go back home and strive to be strong and face all their problems!!

Did I get it right? I'm not sure!!

Anyway, I watched it while flying on the plane and it was fun to try and figure out. The girl WAS amazing, I'll give her that. And the movie was beautiful looking and I know there was all sorts of symbolic stuff floating around (there really were beasts in it by the way.)

But in the end, my feeling was... so... that's it? Hmmm...

How about you all? Have you seen it? What did you think? Did it touch a nerve? Or did you just think... hmmm.

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Movie: Man of Steel
Genre: Super Heroes!
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I don't know. I always get a bit leery when they do these super hero movies over and over and over again. But usually, they seem to manage to top themselves every time. And usually, they seem to find a way to tell the same story a little differently, so I'm always willing to give them a shot. Mostly, I want to watch them because I just love these stories so much, no matter what really.

But I was especially worried about this latest Superman one. Everyone raved, so I went. And I must say, it did enjoy the different angle, even though it is still quite similar in part to some of the others. The villain was definitely different! I've never seen anything like that done before in a superhero movie!

And of course Henry whatshisface makes for a pretty near perfect superman, agreed? A very lovely superman! However, as I said before, Superman will always be Christopher Reeve for me. His bumbling Clark Kent? Classic!

And not to say it's a bad thing or anything, but the last about third of this movie was mostly just blowing up things. Wow, explosions! So if that sort of thing makes you happy, you will love this movie without a doubt. I thought it was fine to a point, but then I was like, okay... ummmm... next??

However, there was one scene that brought me to weepy tears so quick and fast, I didn't know what hit me! If you've seen the movie, can you guess which scene I'm talking about?

But of course I still loved it because I'm not very critical of these things really, as you may have guessed by now. And it's obvious the music was AWESOME!! So, if you haven't seen it but you are a fan of superheroes... what ARE you waiting for?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Descriptive Words I Don't Like

A few weeks ago we listed words that describe books that we will nearly always pick up and read! This week it's jut the opposite and we are listing words that make us NOT want to read a book.

Ten Words or Phrases That I Don't Like

1. whodunit
2. bawdy
3. crude
4. erotic
5. political
6. raucous fun
7. Christian
8. poignant (ha, not really, but I just had to throw it in after my post of awhile back!)
9. allegorical
10. symbolic

Hmmmm.. that was harder than thinking of the words I like!

What would be on your list? Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish today!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Book: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Genre: Paranormal, with a touch of history
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun
From: bought for my Kindle

I started reading this one just as we were leaving London to come home from our trip. That very day, we passed up on the chance to go on a Jack the Ripper walking tour. (Mostly we were just too tired, and it was too hot and we had kids that weren't feeling well.) Then, I started this book and wished so bad we had just done the tour anyway! How much fun would that have been to have just barely seen all the things described in the book! Oh, well.

So yes, this book is about Jack the Ripper.... sort of. Our main character, Rory, has just started a boarding school in the middle of present day London just at the same time that a bunch of murders begin to happen which are mimicking Jack the Ripper from a hundred years before. Everyone gets very caught up in the sensation and there's  a media frenzy, and Rory's school is right in the middle of it all.

One night, when she and her friends sneak out to observe some of the media craziness, she sees a strange guy. That night, the murder takes place right at their school! And then she has to report what she's seen and suddenly, she herself is right it in the center of all the hoopla!

Boy, and then strange things really begin to happen. Rory thinks she is losing her mind, and then she finds out she is mixed up in something way bigger than a murder investigation!

Great story with a nice mixture of historical facts about Jack the Ripper, a good feel for the city of London, and some awesome paranormal touches. Those touches added a wonderful creepy element, though the subject of Jack the Ripper is pretty creepy in and of itself.

The book ends with quite the twist that makes you go, wait, what? So now we can look forward to more books! The Shades of London series.

Bottom line: I was totally wrapped up in this story and loved it.

Other Reviews:

If you judge a book based on your need to finish it, then it was well worth it! From Becky's Book Reviews

The Name of the Star is an incredibly entertaining book. From Devourer of Books

This book is effectively creepy in a lot of ways, enough to have me looking over my shoulder for a few days after I finished it, but not least is the idea that everyone knows when and where the murders will occur, yet no one seems to be able to stop it. From Fyrefly's Book Blog

Everyone and everything seemed so natural and real that I bought in to the world completely without it ever seeming gimmicky. From Logan E. Turner

Sunday, July 21, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Days 6 - 10

More blogging prompts for book bloggers! I think this is nearly over now, but I'm still "catching up!"  Check out this post from Good Books and Good Wine for all the details.

Day Six: How I Shop for Books

I'm thinking that most of the time when I buy books it's because I'm going to a signing and I either want to support the author, or the bookstore, or I just really want the book! Also, I'll buy books in a series that I love and want to collect. Or I'll buy books by an author I love and want to collect. But usually, I have some idea of what the book is before I buy it, I'm not much into buying a random book anymore these days. Oh, and I'll buy cheap Kindle books too! Now and then.

Day Seven: My Blogging Quirks

Hmm... I'm  a little stumped with this prompt! What ARE my blogging quirks? 

  • I'm bugged if I miss a day, though I'm trying really hard to get over that.
  • I don't get very behind in reviews, not sure what this means. I don't read as much as everyone else maybe?
  • I don't like writing detailed reviews. I feel it gives away too much of the book.
  • After so many years at this, I still get instantly sad if a blog post has no comment love at all!
  • I use these things....... way too much. 
  • I'm a haphazard blogger and don't over obsess about my posts, usually. I just throw them up.
  • I'm not into the technical things because I feel that bottom line, I just want to talk books and reading, and that's pretty easy, technically.
  • I love writing discussion posts, but I'm out of ideas for discussions.
  • I blog much better if there is music blasting... and when I say blasting, I mean blasting.

Day Eight: 15 Things I Like (and I'll add... or Dont Like) On Blogs

  1. No clutter
  2. Some white space
  3. Fun colors
  4. Lots of personal and not just reviews
  5. No moving or glittering parts
  6. No auto music, but talking about and sharing music is fun!
  7. Lists and resources included
  8. About me pages
  9. A search bar
  10. Social media contacts easy to find near the top
  11. Easy to read fonts
  13. I like it if I don't have to "click more" to read more, know what I mean?
  14. I like the comment button at the bottom of a post NOT the top.
  15. Drop down menus are cool and I'm starting wish I had some
Day Nine: Why Do I Blog About Books?

Because I feel this overwhelming need to talk about them. And the overwhelming hope that someone might want to listen and talk back.
Day Ten: How Do I Choose What to Read Next?

Mostly by mood, but a lot of times it's because it's something that I've committed to review and the publish date is coming up, or I'm going to a signing and I want to read the book first, or a movie has come out and I want to read the book first, or whatever book club is reading, or I just bought it and I'm going to drop everything else to read it, or I join a read along, or.....

Coming up this week.... Days 11 through 15! Don't you LOVE how I'm doing this all wrong!! :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mini Bloggiesta To Do List

My tasks for the Mini Bloggiesta this weekend are:

  • pin my recent reviews to Pinterest
  • update my NetGalley and Edelweiss profiles to say that I pin my reviews (only I can't figure out how to get to my profile on Edelweiss!! That website is so hard to navigate!)
  • send out an email to my author and blogger spotlight assignments for Utah Book Month
  • draft and schedule the several posts that are in my head
  • catch up on reviews
  • add a couple of reviews to Amazon that I've meant to add, but haven't yet
  • go to the author panel at Orem Library at 2:00 pm on Saturday, take notes and pictures, make a post
  • host the Bloggiesta chat on Saturday night (10 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. here in Utah!)
  • catch up on commenting with some of my favorite bloggers
  • comment on some new to me bloggers
  • update links on all my pages
And if I do all that, I'll be doing good!

Happy Bloggiesta everyone!

(For more info about Bloggiesta, check out the website here, and follow us on Twitter @Bloggiesta)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Things To NOT Take for Granted!

While on our recent trip, I learned that there are several things that I rely on or use daily that I take granted, but after this trip, hopefully I never will again, or at least not for awhile.

Here's some of the basic things I missed:

** driving a car

Yes, the public transportation in Europe is awesome and it got us where we needed to go, but I'll be happy if I don't see another metro/subway/tube for a long time! Those things are dirty, crowded, sweaty, hot, sticky, loud places! I missed beiing able to just get in a car and go where I needed to go. Shopping for groceries without a car is tricky! No wonder they go every single day!

** water

Water became a commodity. It's only served if you specifically ask for it, and then it's always warm. But you'll take it no matter how, because you are always dying of thirst! One thing Europeans do bigger than Americans... water bottles. They are huge! (And then they haul them around everywhere I guess.) So we bought them and filled up our littler ones to carry around.

** ice

Of course, they don't believe in ice over there. At our very last eating out in England, they brought us a pitcher of ice water and we made such a big deal about it that the waiter thought we'd lost our minds!

** drinking fountains

And furthermore, you won't see a drinking fountain anywhere! We actually did see one at the top of the Arc de Triumph, and I meant to take a picture! It was crazy! I think there is one (ONE) at the Tower of London too.

** dryers

All the places we stayed had teeny little washers, but no dyers. They believe in hang drying. Which is tricky when you don't have a lot of time, or it's raining , or muggy, or there's no breeze, or no space or you have a gazillion clothes or .... yeah. It was interesting trying to get our clothes dry. We spread them over balconies, chairs, lines, showers, racks.. anything we could think of. I really really missed my dryer!

** carpet

At all the places were stayed, it was either tile or wood (fake wood) flooring. And no area rugs at all except at the last place in England. I found that I really missed carpet on my feet and that was the first thing I noticed upon walking into my very own house... carpet!!!

** "normal" milk

To me, if milk is stored on the shelf it is not normal. And that's all that Spain and France have. It was fine for breakfast cereal (which, by the way, is another thing they don't really have there!) but for guzzling like I do? Not so yummy. Well, I guess until you get a taste for it. England had milk in the fridge, so I guess it was a little more "normal" there!

** music

I find that while on vacation I don't listen to music much. I missed it. A lot. Now and then we would hear music at some place we were at (a lot of it American which was interesting) but still, even then, not much. I've been having fun blasting music again now that I'm home!

** toilet paper

Oh, boy. One of the interesting things about staying at apartments and not hotels... the amount of TP that is provided! I thought we would instantly run out at the first place (and I searched for a stash but alas there was none!) so we bought more. And wow, tiny tiny rolls they were! But that was okay because we hauled those around with us through two more locations (those ones had enough TP for our whole family... barely...we used every last drop) until Paris. Where we used up the two rolls they provided (remember six people, six days... three girls...yeah) and then proceeded to use up all those tiny teeny rolls we had bought. And then we had one more night and morning to last! Shhhh... don't tell anyone but we used paper towels. Because for some reason, they had a HUGE roll of that! Anyway, they would DIE at the huge Costco packages of TP that we buy!

** plugs

Why do we have to have different plugs in every country? One of my big pre-trip stresses was how we were going to charge all our devices! I brought three converters, and then things we could plug in them that had at least two USB ports. It worked, but it was a pain. And it's been so nice to be home and just plug something in without worrying about blowing something up or tripping a breaker!

Anyway, those are just some of the things we missed and won't ever take for granted again! Well, at least for awhile! And some of the things you can look forward to should you plan to travel abroad!

What do you all miss when you travel?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Book: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA Supernatural
For: Fun
From: Bought for my Kindle

As with the other books I've been reading lately, this one has been on my radar forever it seems. I knew nothing about it except everyone was always swooning over the love interest. So yes, I was curious as to why!

Well, first of all, there's his name, Daemon. I mean, that's a good start right there, don't you think? :) And then he's definitely got that dark mysterious thing going on. Add to that his apparent stand offish-ness, and his "I'm a jerk" facade, and yes, you have the makings a pretty intriguing guy! (Who doesn't, by the way, look at all like the guy on the cover, at least in my head.)

Much of this book fills the same old same old formula. The new girl, Katy, moves in and starts at a new high school. She has trouble fitting in but makes a couple friends. One of those friends lives next door, along with her twin brother.

It turns out that she can't stand this boy, well, she thinks she can't and he makes her crazy, but of course, you know that really they are sparking with intense chemistry and tension.

And then she starts finding out who they REALLY are and how she suddenly fits in to the whole picture somehow and the world must be saved! (Gah, I only read it a week or so ago and already I can't remember the details! My dumb brain!)

But here's the thing. I found myself truly enjoying this one and the cliches were fun and not annoying and the big reveal was a little different than expected and the swoon worthy bits were pretty... swoon worthy. I can see why everyone has been so gaga over this character and his....mmmmm.... appeal.

So that was fun.

But beware Twilight haters, this has a lot in common with that book. A lot. So depending on your mood or inclination, you will love it or hate it. As for me, I leaned on the love it side. I must have been in the right mood.

By the way, is this author a book blogger? Either she was in a former life, or she still is, or she is very familiar with our little community because she threw in many many book blogger-isms. So that was fun too. It makes us book bloggers really relate to this main character in a whole new way!

Bottom line: Despite its cliches, I ended up totally enjoying this fun and crazy story! I know there's more in the series, I'll be keeping an eye out for more good Kindle deals!

Other Reviews:

Blech I hate bad boys. But…damn you Jennifer L. Armentrout, I sort of love Daemon. From Anna Reads

He was just a jerk. He would have a rare tender moment with Katy in one scene then totally acting like she’s nobody the next. Not acceptable. Not sexy and definitely not cool. From Muggle-Born

I definitely recommend picking it up for the fun times and watching a really cute love story develop. From

This book was painfully like Twilight. I try really hard not to compare the paranormal romance books I read to the “saga,” but here it is just glaringly obvious. From Reutreads

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Photo Essay of My "Literary" Trip

While on this recent epic trip, I wanted to see all sorts of things having to do with my literary fetish. I sort of succeeded. Here are the pictures:

Meeting Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
where they were created in Alcala near Madrid

Victor Hugo slept here!
San Juan, near San Sebastian Spain

Here's the front of Victor Hugo's retreat, I think.

This gargoyle was Quasimodo's constant friend!

A view of Notre Dame's bell towers, something Quasimodo knew well!

The English bookstore in the middle of Paris
where many famous authors hung out.

The glass pyramid at the Louvre,
which was featured prominently in The Da Vinci Code.
(I think I posted this one already, but it's worth a repeat, right?)

I'm convinced this was the clock in the train station
(now the Musee d'Orsay)
from The Adventures of Hugo Cabret!

Place de la Concord!
This is where the guillotine stood that chopped off
so many heads, including Sydney Carton
from A Tale of Two Cities.

The sewers of Paris where none other than
Jean Valjean carried an unconscious Marius
only to meet Javert at the end!

Sunset in Paris, something that I'm sure many
literary characters have experienced!

Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station!

Westminster Abbey where Charles Dickens,
Geoffrey Chaucer
and many others, are buried.

This is Sir Issac Newton, in the flesh!
He wrote something, right?

The Tower of London, where so many many things took place,
but most famously where Anne Boleyn lost her head!

In front of the British Library where many original documents
are housed, including many things by Jane Austen.

This ice cream store's name reminded me of Harry Potter
and all the snogging that happened there!

Our very own Secret Garden!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Catch Up Days 1-5

When I got home from vacation, I discovered this fun little blogging writing prompt going on, so I want to participate even though I'm behind! Check out this post from Good Books and Good Wine for all the details.

Day One: 15 Book Related Confessions:

  1. I'm an old middle aged mom that loves to read YA romances.
  2. And I always seem to like the dark haired one...almost always.
  3. I don't care about plot holes, at all.
  4. I also don't care about grammar mistakes.
  5. I'm okay loaning out books as long as you've proven yourself a good returner...
  6. ... that is unless it's a signed book, especially a Markus Zusak signed book, and then no one will be getting that one!
  7. I'm not overly concerned about matching book sets, because a book is a book is a book.
  8. Which also means I've come to terms with the whole ebook/ereader thing and have embraced it!
  9. And about cover art? Eh, I'm not that into it, at least I don't think I am. Unless I'm being somehow subconsciously messed with.
  10. I used to read tons of classics, and now I think they are hard.
  11. I'm worried that I tend to remember some of those classics overly fondly, and that if I re-read them, they won't be as good as they were before.
  12. If I absolutely love a book with all my heart and someone argues against that book, it makes me so sad. 
  13. I lay in bed at night and stare at all my unread books on the shelf and worry about ever getting to them.
  14. I think messy books are just as fun as organized books (do you remember Sabrina's dad's apartment in that movie, the one with Harrison Ford? I loved that place!)
  15. It doesn't totally freak me out to see the movie before the book... only a little.

Day Two: Bedtime ritual: I don't really have a ritual for reading at bedtime, except that it must happen. Lay down, grab book, and read... every night, without fail.

Day Three: Blogging BFFs: I can't tell you how much I hate this question. I have many blogging BFFs! Too many to list! You all know who you are! Many have become IRL friends thanks to the wonderful bookish community we have here in Utah! It's awesome.

Day Four: Book I flung: That other Yann Martel book! Loved Life of Pi, but hated Beatrice and Virgil! Talk about a book that manipulates its reader. Crazy. (Okay, so this is not the LATEST book I flung, but the one that stands out in my mind. Actually, I can't think of a book I flung lately.) And yes, I literally threw this book on the floor when I read that last sentence.

Day Five: Tear Jerker: The first book that I remember making me cry was The Good Earth. Even though that Chinese farmer was a mean old cuss, he worked so hard to make it on his farm, and in the end, all his sons wanted to do was sell it right from under his dying body. That KILLED me people!

Stay tuned for more catch up prompts!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Book: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Supernatural/Dystopian
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Fun
From: cheap book bought for my Kindle

Yet, another book that I've heard bloggers rave about in the recent past that I'm finally getting to!

This one is about a girl who, when she touches people, she pretty much saps their life soul right out of them. Because of this, she has been put in jail for murder, which is where we find her when the book opens up. However, she is then "rescued" by a guy who is in charge of this chaotic society gone bad, and who has plans to manipulate her and use her for his gain and his power.

She is going to have none of this of course. So she escapes with the help of another guy that she is very much attracted to and who she knows from her past. Together, they fight this society and hope to find a place where they can live in peace and maybe perhaps help restore some sort of humanity back to society.

So, I totally enjoyed this one and flew through it really fast. It's definitely page turning and all that. The characters were interesting and engaging. But as I read along, I felt like it was just trying to hard. It was trying to hard to be unique, when in reality, it was pretty much the same old sort of  "kids with superpowers" book trying to right the wrongs of a dystopian world. So in the end, I felt like it was just the same old same old, with a lot of pretty words and poetic writing trying to hide that fact from us.

Bottom line: Even though I enjoyed the story, I was not overly impressed or wow-ed.

Other Reviews:

The author's writing style took a little getting used to, as she utilizes a distracting annoying unique method of strike-thrus in order to help us try to understand Juliette's jumbled thoughts. From Alexia's Books and Such

It’s a compelling story with a powerful premise. From Proud Book Nerd

Shatter Me is a hauntingly intense and compelling page-turner. From TheBookBind

The writing was good...for about two seconds. Then I wanted to shout, "shut up and just tell the dang story! From Alternate Readality

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Currently: Home Again

(written Sunday Morning)


** Kind of obsessed with OneRepublic's Counting Stars lately.

** Also, while traveling home the other day on the plane, I stumbled upon this guy's music and listened to it over and over for several hours. It was perfect for soothing airplane music!


** Merlin season five is on Netflix now! I have a quest to watch them all this week! :)

** Went to see Man of Steel yesterday. Very good, intense, lots of blowing up things. Henry Cavill makes for a good Superman, but for me, it will always be Christopher Reeve.

** I would like to get caught up with Falling Skies (I hope it's online) and Under the Dome ( I hope it's online too.)


** I read a book a week while on vacation. Not bed, eh? All easy YA books, which I will attempt to review this next week. (One is up already.) And now, I feel at a loss for what to read next. I'm floundering with my choices here! How weird is that?

** Utah Book Month is on board to start next month. So for August I'll be reading all (mostly) Utah authors. Excited about that.


** It's weird to be gone for so long and then try to come back to the blogging thing. You feel like you've missed a party and now you are crashing it or something. Hopefully, I can get back into the swing of things. I do think the break has helped the slump I was feeling earlier. I'm ready to blog my heart out! I think.


** While on vacation we ate a simple little breakfast at our apartment (it was fun to go shopping for food in foreign countries) and then usually one bigger meal out during the day, with lots snacks like ice cream, crepes and pastries in between. I thought it was a pretty sporadic way of eating, and hoped that because of that and because of all the walking we did, I wouldn't gain much weight back (having recently lost a little) but it appears there's five pounds that made their way back anyway. Oh, well.

** So now I'm hoping to truly find a good eating balance somehow keep up the walking thing! And not let any more pounds come back, and in fact, maybe get rid of a few more. We'll see how that goes!


** It's very hot here.
** Book club is this week! I'm not sure anyone is reading the book though....
** I have weeds that need pulling.
** Twitter was crazy with all sorts of news last night. Were you paying attention?
** I made homemade root beer this week. It was good.
** Now I need to go get ready for church. Later!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆
For: Fun
From: bought cheap for my Kindle

I've been really looking forward to getting to this one. Everyone seemed to love it so much! So I've been saving it for my trip and it was up first on my Kindle reading list.

However, it turned out to be not quite what I expected. I expected a light fluffy romance, something totally just for fun. However, the kids in this story have ISSUES! One of them is going to London (which I found fun as I was also flying over the ocean at the time of reading!) to her dad's wedding, and she is so not happy about it. She is coming to grips with him getting remarried and much of the book is her flashing back to their relationship over the years.

While at the airport, she meets a dude, a British boy who has been living in the US and he going back to London to, what she assumes is also a wedding, however we find out later that was not quite right. Anyway. They bond on the flight and talk and have a deep connection which ends up helping them both get through what they are facing.

So, yes, in actuality the plot is very very simple, as I expected, but it was not very much light and fluffy, and it was much more about the parental relationships than it was about the blooming romance. So the title is a bit misleading, don't you think?

But it was a fun, quick read, which is what I truly wanted for my first vacation read.

Bottom line: A good story, but not a the light fluffy romance one might expect.

Other Reviews:

Hadley and Oliver’s love story is one readers will swoon over and one I know I’m still thinking about days after completing my reading. From There's a Book

This was an easy to love story, filled with emotion and well-rounded characters. From One Literature Nut

It's a pretty basic and predictable story overall, but it was extremely cute and made me smile and tear up plenty of times. From The Broke and the Bookish

While I’m not sure if there was enough said or enough time for Hadley and her father’s fences to be completely mended, I found the brief time I spent with Statistical incredibly sweet and memorable. From Book Harbinger

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Epic European Trip

As you may or may not know, I've just returned from a three week trip to Europe with the whole family! A couple of years ago we drove across the country and called it The Big Trip. Well, this latest trip we  are now calling The Epic Trip! My daughter went to Spain in April for a study abroad program, and so we decided when she was done we would pick her up and travel around with her a bit before all coming back to real life.

So that's what we did! It was crazy, and fun, and stressful, and exhausting and thrilling and.... all of it. We saw a bit of Madrid, then three days in Barcelona, four days in San Sebastian (we have a friend there that we visited), six days in Paris and then four more days in London. Whew! It flew by much much too fast and feels all like a blur now. But hopefully we created a some memories and showed our kids a little bit of the world.

We tried a new thing this trip and that was to rent and stay in local apartments instead of hotels. We used a website many of you have probably heard of, but it was all new to us... Anyway, this made for quite the different experience, and it was so fun! Much more affordable for our big(ish) family than hotels, and fun to be right in the local neighborhood, shopping for breakfast groceries at the local market, coming home at night with the local people. Awesome. There were, however, some things I missed (not necessarily from hotels, but just from home) which I'll post about later, just because I find those things to be quite interesting.

Anyway, here's a few (but probably too many!) pictures of the adventure and some of the places we stayed:

This is just after we meet up with the daughter who had been in Spain for 6 weeks already.

We rode a lot of trains. I loved it.
(Except for the metros/tubes, I got really sick of those!)

Wading in the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona.

A view of the famous beach in San Sebastian

With our friend Ane, in San Sebastian

Walking walking walking, always walking!

The view out our balcony window in Madrid.

The view down the street where we stayed in Barcelona.
Paris as seen from from the towers of Notre Dame

The Eiffel Tower is awesome at night.

A cool sun shot of the London Eye

And another cool sun shot of Big Ben

The house were we stayed in London, near Wimbledon
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Just some of the stuff Ane's mom fed us

The family at Notre Dame

Love this shot of the Louvre Pyramid at sunset

The Tour Eiffel!

You all know what the Mona Lisa looks like,
but did you know what the crowd observing her looks like?

The beautiful gardens at Versailles.
So clean and pristine that my son thought it looked like a fake backdrop for a movie

The catacombs in Paris, where they've moved tons of skeletons form graveyards
and have done artwork with them.

More Eiffel Tower!
(A rare "whole family" picture.)
Sunset over Paris from the top of the tower.
(Wait, not the top! The second level. We didn't go to the top.)
Well anyway. I guess that gives a little feel of what I've been up to the last three weeks! It's good, sad and a bit weird to be home!


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