Books and Reading

Book Review: January 2018

As a kid, my parents used to joke that for punishment they should take my books away because that would have been one of the few things that really would have made an impact. But they didn’t thank goodness, and books became the first thing that really fueled my love for words, stories and their impact, which eventually influenced my career path.

But then college happened and I almost stopped reading altogether outside of textbooks, articles and what not.

In the almost 5 years since I graduated (say what?!), I’ve struggled to bring reading back into my regular routine, so when I do read its usually when I’m traveling or a random binge, where I start and finish a book in one day. However this hasn’t stopped me from bringing in a few hauls from local bargain sales and adding to my endless list of popular books that everyone else is suggesting.

So my goal in 2018 is to read at LEAST one book a month (baby steps), but to aim toward more like 2 to 3 books. Since book reviews are some of my favorite posts to read, I figured that making this a monthly post is the best way to keep myself accountable.

In January, I read two books and I am ALMOST done with “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, but just couldn’t quite get it finished in time, so that will go on next month’s review.

My list is already pretty long, but please let me know what you recommend!

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The Castaways
By Elin Hilderbrand

Synopsis

“Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy’s closest friends for what will be revealed.
Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life.”
  (via GoodReads)

My Review

I love Elin Hilderbrand, and to anyone who asks, I usually describe her as the Sarah Dessen for adults (though for the record, as an adult I still LOVE Sarah Dessen.) Hilderbrand’s books always make me both laugh and cry, and while yes, you can describe them as a mindless, fun vacation read, I would argue that they often stay with me for a while and make me think a bit. Anyway, The Castaways had a little bit of everything — humor, romance, drama, mystery, etc. — and was probably one of Hilderbrand’s more complex stories. It flowed really well, considering it changed narrators with each chapter and kept me interested until the very end. This story was bittersweet and interesting look at how six different people react and work through the same tragedy. Plus, as always, Hilderbrand makes me want to visit Nantucket someday since that is the setting for all of her books.

Favorite Quote(s)

“Women clearly felt things more deeply: they read sub-text where men saw only white space.” 

Recommend?

4 out of 5 stars… so yes! Definitely recommend if these kind of books are your jam.

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Good as Gone
By Amy Gentry

Synopsis

“Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.” (via Good Reads)

My Review

I love crime shows and mysteries, so I was really looking forward to this book after reading a few good reviews — some that even said that it was equal to “Gone Girl” (which I LOVED.) But I was ultimately left disappointed. The first half of the book was pretty good and had me pulled in, but after a while the narrative switches started to get too confusing and I actually guessed the ending maybe around 3/4’s of the way through. While I realize that religion was a key piece of the story, but I think that the story could have been shortened and simplified a bit. There was just too many things going on that never quite connected for me.

Favorite Quote(s)

“My whole life, ever since I could remember, I’d always hated the thought that no one could ever know what anyone else was feeling or thinking. The fact that no one could ever be inside my head with me seemed like the loneliest thing in the world. I wanted so bad for there to be something that could make those boundaries just disappear. Something so big it was like air, a magic flowing across the planet, connecting everyone and everything.” 

Recommend?

2.5 out of 5 stars. If suspense is a genre you are really into I’d say, ‘sure why not.’ But otherwise I’d say skip it.

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What books do you recommend?

Family, Oregon

A Christmas Rewind.

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Over the holidays I decided to step away from sharing on my blog and enjoy the vacation time I had at home in Oregon with my family. But before we got to far into the New Year I wanted to make sure that I documented and shared a bit about my trip home. This post will probably be pretty dull if you don’t know me or really care, just FYI 🙂

This year, I learned that cross country flights during the holidays need to be bought REALLY EARLY. Fortunately, my family was able to make it work for me to fly into Portland instead of Pasco, which helped cut down the costs. I flew into Portland the Friday before Christmas and was picked up by my Grammy. My Grampy is the interim head basketball coach at Hermiston High and they just happened to have a tournament in Portland that weekend. So my Grammy and I spent the afternoon together, getting lunch downtown with my Uncle Jay and walking around Powell’s book store. Powell’s has multiple floors, covering an entire city block and is an iconic part of  Portland. My Grammy is a big reader like me — we are always sharing suggestions back and forth — so it was really fun to spend that time with her discussing books, authors and exploring Powell’s. That evening we went to the basketball game, where I freaked out just a little when I realized I had babysat a few of the players — it’s guess its easy to forget that little kids can grow up quite a bit in 6 to 7 years. After the game we made the late night 2.5 hour trip home to Hermiston.

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As always my time at home was really busy and packed full of my favorite people. My Dad had his knee replaced at the beginning of December and was still limited in what he could and how much he could be out and about, so I spent a lot of time at home with him, taking him to PT and on a few outings, which always was a bit entertaining. It also meant that his truck was all mine for the week 🙂 I hung out at the flower shop and tried to stay out of the way (mostly), spent a few evenings catching up with my girlfriends and spent an afternoon shopping and catching up just with my sister. Josh and Sonia, my uncle and his fiance, just built a house and were just given the keys at the beginning of the week, so the rest of my week was spent helping them get everything moved in (or visiting while they worked) so that we could celebrate Christmas in their place. We did take a break though to watch the new Star Wars movie. Growing up, Josh babysat my sister and I in the summers and to say that we watched a lot of Star Wars is putting it lightly. I had texted Josh weeks before telling him that he better wait for me to go it, and I think we all but embarrassed Sonia by how excited we were.

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This is also where I should probably add the only really bad part about my vacation. To go into details about HOW, its easier to describe using my hands, but the story is that I burned the outside of my right hand pretty bad with the curling iron wand. The area is about the size of a half dollar coin and well friends, IT REALLY FREAKING HURT. The first day it took me about 5 hours before I could stand to take it off the ice pack and I cried again the first time we put Neosporin on it, which is a bit out of character for me. It’s healing pretty well now, (evident by the insane itch) and going to leave me with a pretty good scar, which just aren’t nearly as cool as they were when I was a kid.

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Christmas was laid back and wonderful. It was fun to celebrate in a new place, and their home is really beautiful! We ate my Dad, Grammy and sister’s delicious food, played a few hysterical rounds of the game HeadBanz and watched the movie Inside Out. The next day I traveled back to Portland with my Uncle Jay and Aunt Michelle, so that I could catch a red eye out of Portland Saturday night. It worked out perfectly though because the Trailblazers were playing the Cavs and my Uncle and I were able sit in my Grampy’s seats and watch the game before I had to go to the airport. I don’t really like Lebron James, but I still wanted to see him play in person. The Blazers had a HUGE game though, and James underwhelmed.

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This was the first red eye that I ever took, and if you asked me how it was just based on the first flight I would have said it was great! I got a row to myself and was actually able to sleep the whole time. My connection in Minneapolis went fine and I thought from there it would be smooth sailing and I would be home and crawling into my bed for a long nap before noon eastern time. Long story short, that didn’t happen. Morning fog in D.C. didn’t allow us to land and after an extra hour in the air they diverted us to Baltimore and after MANY setbacks I was finally on a shuttle bus to D.C. and home before 5 pm.

My Christmas vacation was filled with fun and love, and I am always so thankful that I continue to get to be home with my family and that we can spend it all together.

Cheers!

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Words.

Sometimes words scare me. Sometimes they are difficult and hard to come by, and sometimes words are used mistakenly. It’s been truly eye opening so far during my time here in D.C. to see the important role words have.

But most of the time, words inspire me.
They are one of the few things that continue day in and day out to challenge, fascinate and surprise me. I have always believed that words are the most powerful tool that we have, and even in our visually driven world, I still stand by that belief.

Sure, I don’t expect everyone to always carry around a red pen, pour over books or obsess over lyrics like I do, but I do wish sometimes that people stopped to read them more. For me, its sort of a “stop and smell the roses” thing, something that is good for both the mind and the soul.

This past weekend I went to a semi-annual book sale at the public library.
Let’s just say that it’s good thing I drove there, when I could have walked, and I just about hyperventilated when I called my Mom to tell her all the steals that I found.

I bought a variety of books — mostly fiction — spanning a few genres.
My greatest find though was an English Grammar and Composition book from 1887. It was in considerably good shape with the binding still well intact. I know this is one of those extreme nerd moments where most people roll their eyes, but as for me, this was equivalent to others’ excitement for baseball cards or comic books.

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Here are some of the other words that I’ve stopped and read lately.

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Hannah Brencher and the More Love Letters  movement is sassy, empowering and good for the soul. We need more honest and cheesy words to be said. Recently they also launched If You Find This Email.

In the Reagan International Trade Building.
In the Reagan International Trade Building.
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Picked up this little sign in a flea market last Saturday. If there was ever a line to perfectly describe me, this would be it.

Have a wonderful Monday!