Saturday, April 25, 2015

March & April Books

This year is really flying by!  I'm glad that I was ahead  of schedule for my Reading Challenge for the first two months because I didn't manage to get much reading done this month!

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this book! I listened to this one on Audible, and I loved the narrators. They had two different narrators: one for Jacob at "90 or 93" and one for Jacob at 23.

I enjoyed that the story shifted between Jacob's present and his past. The narrator's voice for Jacob at "90 or 93" reminded me of my grandfather at much so at times, that it brought tears to my eyes!

It was fascinating to learn about circus life as Jacob himself does. And I loved the parts with Rosie, the elephant, since elephants are my favorite animal!


Seriously, I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Thank goodness for Audible, or I would never get to "read" these days.  The best thing about this book is that Ellen narrates it herself.  It just wouldn't be right if she didn't.  It was a pretty quick listen, and it was fun!

 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I finished this on the last day of March.  I have really started to enjoy listening to fiction on Audible.  I have a tendency to pick books that I judge would be heavier reads.  They're fascinating to listen to.

This book was really amazing.  As a teacher, I cross paths with students who have all different types of needs, and this book was striking to me.  It was interesting to follow the point-of-view and logic of this 15-year-old boy.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

This is my only book for April.  I have been so insanely busy.  Again, if it weren't for Audible, I'd have nothing to say here.

I LOVED this book.  I mean, I get that it's the trendy book and all, but I really did love it.  I hadn't really heard anything about the plot or seen the movie prior to reading the book.  I was actually genuinely shocked by the twists and turns of the plot, and now I really need to see the movie.  (And the fact that it stars Ben Affleck doesn't hurt....I'd probably still watch it even if I hated the book.  But anyway....)

So there you have it.  My most recent "reads."

I apologize that I have been missing from Blogland lately.  Not so much that I haven't written, but I literally haven't even had time to keep up with all of YOUR blogs!  This is the first Saturday I've had free in a while, and I figured that I had better get something done in this blog space.

I have lots more books on my to-read list including TWO that I need to read and review: one from Blogging for Books, and one from Micah at Unabashedly Me!  Hopefully, I'll find some free time soon!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

February Books

I'm going to attempt to write this post on my iPad for a couple reasons:
1. I don't feel like getting off of the couch to get the computer
2. We switched our internet provider, and now, I can't get our printer to wirelessly connect with the computer. So the computer is currently upstairs attached to the printer with a USB. See #1.

I'm so confused with how I feel about blogging these days. I miss it, but not enough to find a way to work time to write into my schedule. I try to make time to read my favorite bloggers on the weekends, which doesn't allow me much time to write....

Anyway, this post is about the books I've read in February. I managed to get 3 more books in this month, too!  You can read about my January books here.

I would like to note that at this point, I abandoned writing this post on my iPad before I threw it across the room.  Perhaps, if I had stuck to just typing and added the pictures later, I would've had more success.  lol

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel 
This was my Audible purchase from the month of January.  I get my Audible credit on the 24th of each month, so the books always take me into the next month.  It seems to be helping me with my reading schedule!  Anyway, this is the first book that I have listened to that was not a comedy book or nonfiction.  The book started off a little slow for me at first, and I was wondering if I was even going to like it.  The more I listened, the more the story drew me in.  I gave it 4 stars, and now I want to see the movie version.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
This is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles series.  After being a bit unsure about the first book, Cinder, (which I read in January) when I began reading it, I was enthralled in the story by the end and ready to read the next book.  Scarlet is better known in the fairy tale world as Little Red Riding hood.  She meets a street fighter named Wolf, and they embark on a journey to find Scarlet's missing grandmother.  Along the way, they catch up with Cinder, and more of the tale unfolds.  I enjoyed this one from start to finish, and I now I'm eagerly awaiting the third book, Cress.  (I'm so glad I'm a teacher.  Thank God for Scholastic book orders!!).  I gave this one 5 stars.


The Thirteenth Gift by Joanne Huist Smith
This month, I was excited to receive my first Blogging for Books book!  I had read a review of this one on Kristin's blog, and I decided to try it out for myself.  Overall, the story has a great message.  It is a beautiful story of a Christmas miracle that begins to heal a family's pain from the loss of their husband and father.  Unfortunately, the writing of this book didn't feel natural to me.  The story could have been told as a short story or article, rather than in an entire book.  I think the impact of the story would've been the same without being an entire book.  I wasn't thrilled with the ending that abruptly shifted from the 12th gift to the 13th gift as more of an epilogue than part of the story.  The author also doesn't directly state what exactly the 13th gift.  It seems to be left to the reader to determine.  My inference is that the 13th gift is the tradition of giving and bringing healing to families who have experienced loss.  I would recommend this book...especially for Christmastime.  It is a quick read.  It's just not one that I will be reading again.  I gave it 3 stars.

So what have you been reading lately??

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How It's Going...2015 Goals

I thought it would be good to try to take time each month and reflect how I'm doing with my goals for this year.  It should help to keep me on track and see where I need to step up!

Health & Fitness
~Continue to work out at least 3x a week. I'm giving this a positive.  Last week, I had to miss my Tuesday Zumba workout because we decided to change our internet provider and they were coming to install that day.  I would've gone if I didn't have to be home.
~Find online videos to do yoga or pilates at least 2x a month (on weekends or non-gym days).
I have found some resources.  I just haven't actually done anything about it yet.
~Add healthier foods to lunch 2x a week.  I bought some baby carrots and even some low-cal mozzarella cheese sticks for my lunches.  I also found these really yummy granola bars by Kashi that are low-calorie with a good bit of protein, and they're really good.  So that makes my between school and the gym snack much healthier!
~MEAL PLAN! I'm going in between here.  I'm getting better.  It is SO nice to come home and either already have dinner ready (crock pot or bean pot recipes) or to know what I'm going to make.  I usually pick up what I need on the weekend or on Mondays.  I just want to keep working on this until it's a full-blown habit.
~Complete an obstacle race.
~Run a 5k.
I'm ok with these last two being completed.  These are goals for later this year.  For starters, it's winter here.  It's cold, and there's nothing really going on in our area anyway.  In addition, I have specific races in mind which aren't held until later.

~I set a reading goal of 30 books for 2015.
A work in progress, that I also don't expect to be done.  If you read yesterday's post, I'm at 3 books for the year.

~Blog at least 2x a month.  Big fail on this one.  I set this goal on January 2nd, and sat down to write some posts for this week on February 1st.  Whoops.  Ultimately, it doesn't upset me.  I need to prioritize, and as much as I enjoy blogging and reading others' blogs, it just doesn't fit on my top priorities right now.  However, I WILL achieve this for February because I've already written two posts when this one is finished!

Overall, I'm happy with my progress on my goals so far!

How are you doing with your goals for 2015?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: January Books

It is my goal to read 30 books in 2015, and so far, I'm off to a great start.  In January, I read 3 books.  According to my challenge on, I am have completed 10% of my goal, and I am one book ahead of schedule.

When I shared my book review of Reshaping it All, I actually did a vlog!  I thought it would be fun and easier to continue to do those.  That has turned out not to be true for me.  Alas, I think it may end up working best for me to just share all of my books at once for a monthly reading update.


Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly
I listened to this one on Audible.  I really enjoy listening to audio books on my commute to and from work.  It makes me feel like I'm still doing something productive during my driving time.  I did not like this one as much as I liked Killing Kennedy, but I still really enjoyed it.  It was fascinating to hear the history behind the Lincoln assassination.  What I liked least was that a few chapters droned on about Civil War battles and issues, and I didn't feel it was specifically relevant to the story of Lincoln.  Don't get me wrong, I actually do like learning about Civil War history, but I just didn't feel it was necessary or specific to the story being told.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I got a bit out of control when I was placing my order for our Fall Book Fair.  When I very quickly used up my $50 from our PTO, I took to using my bonus points and money to spend on my next Scholastic Book Order.  Cinder is the first in a series called The Lunar Chronicles.  I certainly love my YA fiction, and it's no secret that I'm a big fan of fairy tales, so this seemed like something I should try.  I was able to score the first two books in the series from the book order.  (Cinder and Scarlet).  At first, I wasn't so sure I could get into this Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing in a world centuries after ours.  The more I read, the more the story began to grow on me, and I couldn't put it down.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
This was another Audible purchase.  My tastes on Audible tend to lean toward nonfiction and comedy.  I can't seem to bring myself to listen to fiction, fantasy, or other genres yet.  I also feel compelled toward these comedy memoirs because everyone seems to love them.  I feel like I should read them.  After reading Tina Fey's Bossy Pants and Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Having Fun without Me? And Other Concerns, I decided that LISTENING to these is the way to go.  Since I haven't been super familiar with any of these women other than I know who they are and some of their biggest work, I found that reading their books didn't impress me.  I needed to HEAR them tell their stories.  Listening to Amy Poehler tell her story was wonderful.  The audio book was a super fun recording of her story including a live reading of the last chapter of the book.  She had a few other celebrity guests and even her parents record parts of the book with her.  It was fun to hear about her life and career.  The book is definitely funny because I'm pretty sure Amy Poehler couldn't write a book that wasn't.

I also gave this one 4 out of 5 stars.  

I am currently working on 3 different books.  I normally don't like to do this, but here's how it happened.  I started reading The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (the second in the Maze Runner Trilogy).  Scott took it to work to read and lost it.  So I had to order a replacement.  In the mean time, I read other books.  Then I finished Cinder and started reading Scarlet.  Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of free time for reading these days, so that's slow-going.  BUT I also have my monthly credit from Audible, and I have lots of time to "read" in the car.  So I am also listening to The Life of Pi by Yann Martel--the first fiction book I'm listening to!  You can keep track of what I'm reading and my progress on Goodreads.  I'll certainly have something to share with you at the end of February! 

What are you reading lately?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Well, Hello There, 2015!

Do you realize that we have reached the year that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to in Back to the Future II?

Well, Doc, we do still need roads in 2015, and I don't have a Hover board yet either.  I guess I'll get over it.

So anyway, I had a moment of inspiration that caused me to grab the lap top and write a real time post for you all.  I thought I'd start by sharing a few of my top posts from 2014.

My Top 5 Posts from 2014
1. To Stitch Fix or Not October 6th- 573 views (P.S. I had a friend sign up for Stitchfix, which gave me an extra credit so I got a fourth one.  It was a hit!  I actually bought the whole box, and it wasn't insanely expensive either!)
2. I Need Your Help April 26th- 254 views
3. Live & Learn Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Dip February 6th- 229 views
4. *sigh* February 27th- 214 views
5. Why I Failed the #100HappyDays Challenge July 22nd- 174 views

If you've been around here for awhile, I have mentioned that I don't like New Year's Resolutions.  I think I've discovered is that I don't like them because they're unrealistic.  People start out their years with resolutions to completely overhaul their lives, and while the intentions might be good, the ideas are almost impossible to achieve.  I'm sure there are people out there who make and keep resolutions, and kudos to them!  For me, I've decided that rather than swear off "resolutions" completely, as in the past, I want to set goals.  I know a lot of the bloggers I follow have done the same thing.  So here are some of my goals for 2015:

Health & Fitness
~Continue to work out at least 3x a week.
It seems that every time I think I'll get in 4 workouts, something comes up.  I always say I'm not designed for more than 3 workouts a week!  haha  
~Find online videos to do yoga or pilates at least 2x a month (on weekends or non-gym days).
~Add healthier foods to lunch 2x a week.
My current plan for this is to start having baby carrots as a side instead of chips (even though, I do portion control to stay within my calorie limit).  I also want to have grapes or nuts for a snack or dessert.
I need to to this.  Since Scott found out that he can't have gluten our "pull it from the freezer and throw it in the oven" sort of meal planning doesn't quite work.  Plus, with my work out routine, there are times that I need to have dinner cooking in a crock pot or something planned that's quick for when he works nights.
~Complete an obstacle race.
Scott and I have plans to do one this summer!


~Run a 5k.
This goal surprised me when I came up with it.  I HATE running.  But now that I can run a mile on the treadmill without feeling like I will die, I want to push myself.  :-p  

~I set a reading goal of 30 books for 2015.
Since I read 27 in 2014, I thought that was reasonable and possible.  You can see my 2014 books here.  You can also follow me on Goodreads to see what I'm reading.

I had a hard time with blogging in 2014.  I am busy, and I value my downtime.  This often means, I just don't feel like typing...even though that's not hard work or anything.  But I don't like disappearing completely.  So I did set a small and manageable blogging goal.
~Blog at least 2x a month.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope that this year is better than the last!

What are your goals for 2015?

(By the way, have you entered my giveaway for Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure?  There's only 4 days left to enter!)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Books

Another year has come and gone, and I've been doing a lot of reading this year.  (Well, not nearly as much reading as I would like, but I think I did well considering my lack of time.)

Here's what I read last year: 2013 Books

In case you didn't go back, I read 18 books last year.  I decided to make a realistic goal based on that number, and for 2014, I set a goal of 20 books.

This year, I actually read 27 books!  So I totally blew my goal out of the water.  Here's what I read:
(All images are from

1. A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
2. Gregor the Overlander

3. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

4. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods

5. Gregor and the Marks of Secret

6. Gregor and the Code of Claw

7. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson

8. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

9. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
10. The Magician's Nephew

11. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

12. The Horse and His Boy

13. Prince Caspian

14. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

15. The Silver Chair

16. The Last Battle

17. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

18. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

19. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

20. Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

21. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

22. Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly

23. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

24. Son by Lois Lowry

25. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

26. The Maze Runner by James Daschner

27. Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure

It also looks like I reviewed MOST of my books with you!  I think that when I read as series, I will continue to review the series as a whole like I did for The Chronicles of Narnia.  It was just easier that way, and it gives my thoughts on all of the books, unlike The Underland Chronicles.

This year, thanks to a free trial e-mail, and my friend (and fellow blogger) Kristin who always talks about audio books, I started to download and listen to books with Audible from Amazon.  This is a nice change for my commute to and from work.  I love music, but I'm just tired of everything on my iPod.  So I listened to Eat, Pray, Love, Killing Kennedy, and Food: A Love Story.  Coming up for 2015, I will be listening to Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly (currently listening to this), Yes Please by Amy Poehler, and the Serial podcasts.

My reading goal for 2015 is going to be 30 books!  I have a long list of books to get working on.  I have one more that I received for Christmas, and I have quite a few coming from my school's fall book fair.

Happy Reading in 2015!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review: Reshaping it All

I got two books for Christmas this year, and the first one I decided to read was Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure.  I honestly just didn't feel like typing a review about it.  So I made a vlog for you all!

I may actually try to do book reviews like this in the New Year.  I felt like I was able to share more, and it was easy to do pretty much right after I finished reading the book.  This way, I don't seem to forget all of the brilliant things that I want to say about the book because I don't have time to write a post.  This was quick and easy!

I've decided to share this book with one of you!  I loved it, but to me, it's not one of those re-readable books.  Please remember, as I said in the video, my mom had a hard time finding this for me for Christmas.  So the book is large print, and it used to belong to a library somewhere.  But whatever, a book is a book, right?!   So anyway, please enter to win! :)

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