Books I Want to Read – Summer 2017

Like most folks on GoodReads, I have a never ending list of “to read” books. I’m taking a page post out of Alexandra‘s and Kelly‘s blogs and rattling off a few novels I want to tackle this summer.

Hopefully a few of these fall in line with Erin‘s next challenge, too! That starts July 1st so I have a little break between now and then to tackle as many of these books as I can!

Yes Please (Amy Poehler).
I added this to my bookshelf in July 2015, then I received it as a gift this year for Valentine’s Day. I enjoyed Tina’s and Mindy’s books so I’m looking forward to this one, too.

The Heir & The Crown (Kiera Cass).
Two separate books- numbers 4 and 5 in The Selection series. I’ve made it this far… I might as well finish out the series.

Scarlet (A.C. Gaughen).
I believe Alexandra put this on my radar a few month ago (er, maybe a year ago?). Either way… I’m putting it at the top of the list.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well (Meik Wiking).
Everyone’s reading it sooo… I want to, too.

The Wrath & The Dawn (Renee Ahdieh).
I’m going to finally attempt to link-up with Carolann‘s monthly GoodReads book club. This is the May book.

The Sisters Brothers (Patrick deWitt).
Erin sent me this book a few weeks ago and I’m dying to start it! That cover is so intriguing!

Three Dark Crowns (Kendare Blake).
I’ve heard good things about this book and it’s got a nice mix of royalty and fantasy. Those two genres are usually right up my alley.

Either Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas).
Any recommendations on which I should start?

Help me out with the Maas books. And tell me what you’re planning on reading this summer!

A Daily Dose of Laughter

I would venture to say that the majority of my friends and family would not describe me as “jolly.” On the contrary, I tend to be an awkward mix of volatile and passionate. I’m not a fan of physical touch and I infuse sarcasm in 95% of my conversations. While I firmly believe I am (mostly) a good time to be around, I also know that I’m not the always-smiling, always-bubbly girl at the party unless there’s lots of alcohol. (I’m usually the quiet one on the floor in the corner with 8 dogs.)

All of that to say, if you’re like me and not in the habit of joking around and smiling on a daily basis (especially during these dark times), I believe we should be. We all deserve to have at least one big belly laugh a day. Not a polite smile or a forced chuckle- a genuine, outburst of laughter.

True to my introvert ways, I often find something hilarious to laugh at when I’m all alone. Jimmy Fallon videos, inappropriate Reddit threads, dog and cats videos… All of those are total winners for me. That said, laughing alongside my husband or best friends is my most preferred laughter outlet.

Some people laugh a lot (is it weird that I’m jealous of those folks?) and this is an unnecessary reminder, but for those of you who go a day or a week without fully utilizing every part of your lungs for a laugh, try to change it up. If you only have three minutes watch a Youtube video. If you’ve got a few hours pop in a comedy or meet your funniest friend for lunch. (Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, yet? I was gasping for air, crying & laughing.)

I don’t do it as often as I should, but laughter does the soul good. We could all benefit from a little more joy. Tears from laughter always trump tears of sadness or anger or fear. (Pun possibly intended…?)

*Suggestion: While SNL is killin’ it right now, avoid those clips during your daily dose of laughter. Personally, those clips make me smirk- not belly laugh. They’re awesome and hilarious and so on point, but they can stir up outrage, too, and that’s not the emotion we’re going for in these few moments of hilarity.

So if you’re like me and you forget to make laughing a priority in your day-to-day schedule, this is your gentle reminder to sit down for a second and enjoy something funny. The heavy stuff is always going to be there and sometimes we just need a break!

Short Stories I Love

I’d venture to guess that most of us are book people. While I consider myself a book person, I tend to overlook or avoid short stories, fables, etc. I don’t know why, but I do. But every once in a while one crosses my path and it sticks with me.

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Today I’m sharing three very short stories or fables with you 🙂
The longest is roughly 1,000 words and the shortest is a few paragraphs.

The Grasshopper & the Ants

You’ve probably heard this one. It’s from Aesop’s Fables. The ants are a tad harsh in the end, but I like to balance this lesson with my last short story on this list 😉

You can read it here.

The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce

I read this story when I was in middle school or high school and I really loved it. I’ve tried (and failed) to get into Poe- I think Bierce is more my style. Plus, he just disappeared and died somewhere. No one really knows what became of him…

Anyway, you can read The Boarded Window here.

And last but not least…

The Tiger & the Fox

I really love this story, but I don’t know much about it. I believe it’s by Massud Farzan from The Tale of the Reed Pipe. I think it’s of Islamic origin? Anyway- I love it.

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap. A man who lived on the edge of the forest, seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: “If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don’t I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?”

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a voice which said: “O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the fox.”


What are some short stories or fables that you love?

What I Read… vol.5

I slowed waaay down with reading this month. I also failed to finish Erin’s challenge. (Heck, I still haven’t finished Atonement. I think that one might be a lost cause…) Oh well- the two books I did read were four star-ers so I consider it a good month.

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. . .

On to the books…

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier | ★★★★/5
Summary: After fleeing with her sister from personal embarrassment in England, Honor Bright finds herself all alone in rural 1850s Ohio at the mercy of strangers. Trying to find her place in the midst of Quakers, runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad, and crass-yet-kind Americans, Honor all but loses herself. She soon finds that right and wrong isn’t a matter of black and white. | Why I Read It: According to GoodReads it’s been on my TBR list since 2015. And it met the criteria for Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: Books like this are why I love historical fiction. Not everything is 100% true, but I learned so much about Ohio’s history with the Underground Railroad and the necessary involvement of Quakers. It sparks the desire to know more. Honor was a naive character at first but I think she progressed and developed as the story went on. I would have made VERY different choices than she did and I wasn’t expecting the final scene, but it was a good piece of historical fiction that taught me a little more about the state in which I live.
You should read it because… you enjoy historical fiction- more specifically, the turbulent pre-Civil War/slave era in America’s history. I loved that this was set in my state. It was also minimal on the cruelty/violence that’s often written into novels about slavery. Still heavy, but not soul-crushing.

A Most Novel Revenge by Ashley Weaver | ★★★★/5
Summary: In the third installment of the Amory Ames Mystery series the clever, amateur detective and her dashing husband Milo are invited to join Amory’s cousin at a cold and drafty countryside estate. While Lyonsgate may have once been a lovely getaway, it now holds memories of a wild evening gone wrong. | Why I Read It: I love this series. A fourth book comes out in September and I wanted to be all caught up. | What I Thought: I really love Amory Ames. I think she’s progressed through the books and found her voice and her confidence- with and without her husband. I also love that they work as a functional, adoring team in this novel. Milo gave her a little more attention than he has in the past and Amory found herself letting some walls down. I found their evolving relationship adorable. As far as the mystery goes, I had 85% of it figured out by the reveal, but I think I was supposed to suspect certain characters. I loved the speed of the story line as well as the heavy dialogue. I highly suggest reading the first two mysteries before you read this one- they set up the characters and their quirks.
You should read it because… you enjoyed the first two novels. And you should read those if you love a polite English murder mystery with a fair share of twists and surprises. It’s less thriller and more fun, but that’s my kind of mystery 😉


Erin’s Challenge officially ended at midnight on April 30th…

| 5 points | Freebie: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
| 10 points | Starts with the letter “W”: Winter by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Six words in the title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
| 15 points | Has a (mostly) green cover: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | A homonym in the title: The One by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | By your favorite author: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
| 25 points | Set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
| 30 points | A “Rory Gilmore” book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
| 30 points | From a genre that you’ve never read/rarely read (*thriller*): The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
| 35 points | With time travel: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I ended with 170 points out of 200! While I didn’t complete the challenge, I feel so accomplished and happy. This was a personal best!

If you’re in a reading slump like I was I strongly encourage you to join Erin‘s next challenge. (Categories released June 1, starts July 1.) While I’ve never finished it, I’m pretty darn close. And Erin never puts any pressure on her readers- it’s such a supportive group. I tend to read at a rate of three-ish books a month… which would allow me to finish the challenge if I’d just stay consistent, lol.

What did you read this month? Linking up with Steph and Jana!

Life According to Steph

Goodbye, April

I never do a monthly recap, but April was a fun & busy one so I thought I’d switch it up and type one out for Kristen and Gretch‘s What’s New with You? link-up.

What's New With You

This is a picture-heavy post, but I only included the good moments 😉

This month we celebrated my mom’s (and uncle’s) birthday.

For Mom’s celebration we ventured down to Columbus on a Saturday for dinner at de|Novo and a concert at the Ohio Theatre. Fred & Xtina joined us for a relaxing evening with yummy food and a mesmerizing performance.

The show was called Cirque de Symphonie and there were acrobats, dancers, contortionists, and rope/silk artists to accompany the musical numbers.


Things that happened mid-month that didn’t warrant pictures…

  • Lylee got her nails trimmed and her ears cleaned at the groomers
  • a local drumline Friends & Family Show
  • meeting the best friend’s new boyfriend
  • getting financially assaulted by the US govn’t on tax day
  • a few dinners out with friends and family
  • a breakfast date with K on Good Friday (and a day off!)
  • one of my best and longest friends asked me to be a bridesmaid!


Easter was spent with family. We did church in the morning, an egg hunt and lunch and kite flying at my parents’ house, a dinner for K’s family (and my parents) at our house, & dessert and another egg hunt at K’s grandparents’ house.


The end of the month hit hard and fast…

We left for Dayton on the 19th and spent three days bouncing between the Uni. of Dayton, Wright State University, Miami University, and Northern Kentucky University for WGI Percussion World Championships.

Three 10+ hour days in parking lots and arenas watching high school and independent drumlines and making new connections or seeing old friends. So fun and so exhausting, ha.

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared our products on my blog before… We had over 60 groups using our equipment at this competition. It was pretty surreal.


The Sunday after WGI we left Dayton and drove southeast to Bristol, TN. My parents and cousin were already there. The race was scheduled for 2pm on Sunday but rain postponed it until Monday.

Bristol is mountain territory and in the past we’ve been foiled many times by spotty rain-delays and postponements. We now always spend Sunday night in the area and drive home on Monday. This allows us to stay late for a delayed Sunday night race or a rescheduled Monday afternoon race; the latter being the case this past trip.

Cabela’s | Racing | Bowling
The water in that picture should be a little stream- NOT a river…

Last but not least, we celebrate our 4 year anniversary on the 27th. We did a food tour in a neighboring city. It included four restaurant and some city history. We were so full by the end of it… but it was delicious!

Both Steph and Alexandra sent cards wishing us a happy anniversary! You girls are total sweethearts!

It was so windy on our tour but it didn’t storm so that’s a win!

And that concludes our April (a.k.a. possibly our busiest month professionally + personally all year). I kicked May off with a deep tissue massage on Monday. #SelfCare

What’d you do last month?

What's New With You

Movie Yays and Nays

I saw Tanya and Erin do this fun little questionnaire. So now I’m doing it, too!

Most Hated Movie of All-Time: Django Unchained, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Last Airbender
Movie I Think is Overrated: Shawshank Redemption (it actually ties for “most hated”)
Movie I Think is Underrated: Field of Dreams
Movie I Love: Clue
Movie I Secretly Love: Inglorious Basterds (even though I hate violent movies)
Favorite Action Movie: The Mummy
Favorite Drama: Ocean’s 11
Favorite Horror: The Grudge or Gothika (is that horror?)
Favorite Comedy: Talladega Nights
Favorite Disney Movie: The Lion King or Aladdin or Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Favorite Sci-Fi Movie: Star Trek (2009)
Favorite Animated Movie: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Favorite Superhero Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy or X-Men: First Class
Favorite Musical: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Favorite Western: Rio Bravo (1959)
Favorite Martial Arts: Ummm… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a martial arts movie
Favorite Indie: I guess Juno… independent films are always so dang depressing
Favorite Bad Movie: Alice in Wonderland (1999)… it was made-for-TV, but I don’t think it’s bad
Childhood Favorite: Billboard Dad
Favorite Franchise: Harry Potter & X-Men
Best Trilogy: LOTR (or the original X-Men)
Guilty Pleasure: Napoleon Dynamite… so bad, yet so good
Favorite Director: Wes Anderson and David Yates
Favorite Actor: Chris Pratt or Jon Hamm
Favorite Actress: Jennifer Lawrence or Olivia Munn
Favorite Foreign Film: Water (2005)
Favorite Movie this Year so Far: I’ve only seen Beauty & the Beast this year…
Worst Movie so Far this Year: -nothing-
Movie I Have Seen Recently: We’re the Millers
What I Thought of It: I’ve seen it before but it was on TV recently. I actually think this is a hilarious movie. Stupid and cheesy, but comical.
Most Anticipated Film of this Year: Guardians of the Galaxy 2!!
Favorite Movie of All-Time: It’s a tie between HP, Alice in Wonderland, & X-Men

What movie do you hate? What’s your favorite Disney one?