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26 January 2015

sometimes you have to be a little bit... naughty

so Matilda the Musical- basically the best thing I've seen on stage. And I had awful seats. I can't even imagine what it would be been from the orchestra, or mezzanine. The books and lyrics are incredible. The set was so well thought out, creative, impeccable- I kind of want to bow down to the creativity. I now want to see it in London, and with each of the other three little girls who also play Matilda in New York.

 Also did I mention that Christopher Sieber played Ms. Trunchbull? I love Christopher Sieber! Those who may not be familiar with him, he is a big time Broadway buff. I actually saw him in Thoroughly Modern Millie a few years ago with Sutton Foster. And he was in the revival of Into the Woods in
2002, but most importantly he played Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's father in Two of a Kind. Weirdly enough I had been thinking about him earlier this week, had no idea he was even in this show and then bam! he was there on stage being perfection.

I could ooh and ahh over it but in reality my advice is if you get a chance to see it- go. You won't be sorry.

Kinky Boots was also excellent in a completely different way. The be all end all of that show is Billy Porter a Broadway g-d. seriously. That whole show is Lola and her angels. Can I just say how hard it is to watch men in drag dance, sing, with six-packs, more perfectly than you could ever hope to be? They are marvelous, my jealously is beyond.

Beside the two fantastic shows, Sunday was followed by a day of complete laziness. I've pushed my DVR to 25% full and made it half-way through season 6 of Gilmore Girls. The end is near and I'm so upset- I never want the show to end.. again. I forgot how spectacularly perfect it was. When is Amy Palladino coming out with something new? I need some more of her sass in my life. Bunheads needs to come back, I'd also like some more of The Lying Game (not her show but also great).

And now as Blizzard 2015 arrives I bid you all adieu.

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I sure did...
Bella And The City

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23 January 2015

shoo fly dont bother me

Happy Friday! This week seemed especially long- I think that happens when there isn't really too much to do at work. But let's stick with the normal Friday routine and give you this weeks five..

I'm pretty excited because tomorrow my mom is coming into town and we are going to go see TWO Broadway shows! I haven't seen anything since Pippin, which was almost a year ago. We are going to see the matinee for Kinky Boots and then the evening performance of Matilda. I've heard amazing things about both of them- seriously can't wait!

The other day on her blog, Jade & Oak, Jackie put up some useful tips and tools for blogging. One of the things she talked about was IFTTT, if this- than that. I'm obsessed. It might be one of the coolest sites I've been introduced to and is helpful for everyone. Basically you make "recipes" that help connect your social media sites. For example, I made a recipe that will change my twitter profile picture every time I change my facebook profile picture. Win!

I have had a few game nights with my friends these past few weeks and we have discovered a new favorite-Say Anything . It is kind of like Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanities + Balderdash. The concept being that one person asks a pre-written question such as "In My Opinion who is the worst villain of all time?". Everyone else writes down an answer that they think applies to the questioner. The "judge/questioner" decides which answer they like (secretly) and then everyone else can vote on which answer the think the judge picked. A little confusing but a lot of fun, once you get the hang of it..

As you can see with my lovely numbers, I've really been trying to learn how to use PicMonkey to its full advantage. I've had a lot fun, and annoyances, figuring out what you think would be simple. It is all taking way more time than I had anticipated, even so I'm enjoying the new skills! Plus I just figured out how to use fonts from my own computer. my mind has been blown!

In animal news, my poor Phoenix is having eye troubles again! Apparently she developed a herpes ulcer in her eye, something that is passed down from their mothers, and brought on by stress! Why my poor cat is stressed, I do not know. I do know that she now has to have two different eye-drops again, twice a day for 2-3 weeks, and the vet put a contact in her eye. Yep, a cat contact. Thankfully everyone at the vet loves her, and I can bring her to work on vet days getting the kids a little more interested in animals each time. 


 And on to even cooler stuff- I'm so so happy to introduce to you to one of my wonderful sponsors, Kristyn! Kristyn blogs over at Chits and Giggles, and honestly she was one of the first people I met in blogland about a year ago. I signed up with her Small Blog Mentor Program and although she ended up taking a blogging break during my program, for her wedding and life - totally understandable, even the few weeks I had with her made a huge difference in this space.

Kristyn blogs about any and everything. She has some wonderful blogging tips that range from post ideas to why you should have a business card. Kristyn isn't afraid to be honest on her space, or take a break for important things like her wedding, which by the way was beautiful! She also recently started a blogging book club with Anne from Love the Here and Now, called Between the Lines. Just this week they had their first link-up talking about Gillian Flynn's Dark Places.

Basically she is an all-around awesome gal, and if you are not already checking out her space daily, you need to do so now. And she loves nutella. done and done.

If you could travel to any place in the world, right now, where would you go?
Probably Switzerland.  It's been on my list for a while, so why not go if I could?

What are your 3 favorite posts ?

What is your favorite midnight snack?

Anything that includes Nutella.  It doesn't even matter what it is.  It could be a spoonful of Nutella.  That stuff is amazing.

If you had to pick a favorite book, what would it be?
I don't know if I could choose just one, but if I could pick 2 it would be the Harry Potter series and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.

Have a great weekend! 

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22 January 2015

Blogging for Books: The Happiness of Pursuit

After I finished my last Blogging for Books book, Bittersweet, I decided to go in another direction with book choices- non-fiction/memoir type. Honestly I judged a book by it's cover, I had no idea what this was about and thought it might have to do with that movie that came out recently with Simon Pegg (which I know now is actually called Hector and The Search for Happiness). Similar, I know. Either way I'm happy I picked this one out because it was exactly what I needed, especially since I am on the road to pursuing my own quest at this time, to thru-hike The Appalachian Trail. 

Chris Guillebeau's book ,The Happiness of Pursuit, is about the quest for happiness in our society. What others have done, created, amassed to reach their happiness goals. Chris himself made a goal to visit every country in the world. Over the course of the years and with the intention of writing this book, Chris has met with, talked to and interviewed hundreds of people who also set their mind on something unique. He talked to men and women who have walked across different countries, set goals to race over 300 marathons in a year, a woman who lived in a tree to save a forest. The list goes on and on. And over the course of the book he helps guide you to create your own goal or quest. The steps you must take to think it through logically, financially, mentally. How it feels to complete your list, quest or business, in some cases. 

The whole book is about the challenges that others have set for themselves, how they did it - what motivated them to undertake the challenge, how they were able to continue finding new challenges after they completed the first. An entire book of inspiring stories, failures, and quests. He tells you the beginnings of some stories, the journeys, the destinations, all while helping you determine your own destination.

Overall it was a fantastic read- one I would recommend to anyone, whether you have already completed your own challenge, whether you want to start or create a challenge for yourself or you just like being inspired by the challenges of others. 

Winner here in my own book. 

* I received this e-book for free, in exchange for a review- all thoughts and opinions are of my own*

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21 January 2015

Hiking Goals for 2015

almost just wrote 2014 up there.. whoops.

It's not secret my plan is to hike the Appalachian Trail next year and while I'm still 13ish months away (goal is to leave end of February/beginning of March 2016) I really need to start planning now!

I'd like to set some goals for myself over the next year to start purchasing gear, reaching out to potential sponsors, and hopefully getting in some practice hikes nearby.

But here's the thing... if you haven't figured it out yet I'm not really much of a hiker- I've gone on hikes in the past, and done several camping trips over the years but I've literally never backpacked before. Ever. Which might seem strange since this the thing I have my heart set on - it feels right though. So we are going to get through it. I already know REI will be my best friend with their return/exchange policy. Planning to buy a lot of stuff through them (and they have a cash back program!)

If you are hiker/backpacker/outdoors person and have any suggestions for gear I might need, brands, sponsors- ANYTHING, please let me know. Any and all help is much appreciated!!

  • start researching backpacks, sleeping bags and tents -these will all be key items for my hike, and pricey. I want to go to stores in Jan/Feb to try them out, walk around, carry the weight of 25-30 lbs
almost positive I'm going with this bad boy for my tent..
  • buy a stove, pot and utensils. checkity check, just bought them!
  • boots! this month is all about the shoes, and socks I will be wearing for 5-6 months. I need to decide I want to go with the traditional boot or a hiking sneaker
  • clothes goes along with this, the first few months and the last few months will be chilly. I need good under layers, a warm light weight jacket, and accessories. But then I need to think about the warm months, the best shorts that will limit or eliminate chaffing completely and the most supportive comfortable bra ever. plus underwear. you have to think about the details!
  • I need to figure out what I want to eat- this sounds a bit early but I think this will be my best bet for sponsors, food companies that might donate products meaning I won't to buy them.
  • I'd also like to purchase at least one big item this month- either bedding, a pack or my tent. 
  • start emailing those sponsors- by this time the 2015's have most like hit the trail. Now it's my turn to get in with the sponsors for next year!
  • if possible purchase another big item
  • purchase last big item if possible
  • go for a mini-hike, take a weekend Saturday- Sunday and test gear
  • email email email for sponsors!
  • start tracking down and figuring out misc. gear
  • mini-hike (maybe one with crappy weather- no use trying out the wet gear if it's not actually raining)
  • map out hike- figure out estimates for stops, re-gearing, do I want a bump box/ mailing food or buying?
  • four day weekend hike. birthday? Could be a fun adventure with friends..
  • meal plans- should I dehydrate and cook my own things or purchase?- check in on sponsors!
  • four day weekend hike- the end is in sight...
  • purchase plan ticket to Georgia! ahh!
  • cold weather hike? we will see how the weather is...
  • harass those sponsors!
  • final gear lists- beg for anything not yet purchased for the holidays! gift cards gift cards!
January 2016:
  • purchase those last odds and ends
  • find someone to sublet my apartment/watch the cats
  • visit with family and friends becausec it might be a while before I see them..
February 2016:
  • Final bag checks, confirm flights, hotel stay and transport to the start and ...
March 2016: HIKE! 

and that is that- my goals and plan to try and get this all done! I'm already crazy excited, way to nervous and scared I'm going to run out of time. 
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19 January 2015

the Oscar game + giveaway!

Last week the nominations for the Oscars were announced... which leads me to my absolutely favorite game of the year, how many Oscar nominated films can I see before the Oscars air? Fun, I know.

When I came back from Costa Rica I spent the next few days relaxing and catching up on TV. I also went to the movies and saw Wild and Into the Woods (thanks for those movie tickets Dad!)

This past weekend I went to see The Imitation Game and Birdman.

All equally fantastic but in so many different ways. I'm hoping to hit up American Sniper this weekend and maybe one more.

I never actually get to the whole list but it does motivate to finally see some of those films on my agenda (i.e Gone Girl).

And now on to the good stuff- the giveaway! I'm pretty sure I'd be down to win $115 (would certainly help with those movie tickets) and I'm guessing you would be too- so enter away!

hannah | shane
karli | mar
lauren | rebekah
lindsay | amy | sara | karisssa
if you would like to get in on february's group giveaway action, click HERE to see your options!

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13 January 2015

Part Two: Books Bookity

Hooray! More books! This is the second half (first half here) of some of the favorites I've read in the past few months but hadn't gotten around to talking about. Go pick up a book!
Virals by Kathy Reichs: Kathy Reichs is an anthropologist and author of the Bones book series that then turned into the well-know TV show Bones on Fox. The books are inspired by her own work. Virals is the first book of hers in a YA series that takes place in the same reality as Bones. Tory Brennan is the niece of Temprence Brennan (main character of Bones) and lives on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. The island is the home of several scientist and their families. When Tory and her friends rescue a dog caged in one of the medical facilities they become exposed to an experimental strain that changes them. Not only do they need to figure out what is happening to them but what is going on, on this island. I enjoyed the book- it has the make to become a great series although nothing else has been released yet. We will see..

 The Vacationers by Emma Straub: I'm pretty sure everyone and their mother read this book this past summer but if for some reason you did not, it is worth picking up. A pretty quick read with minor twists here and there its the kind of book that lets you know your family isn't the only crazy one out there. Jim and Franny Post take their daughter Sylvia, son Bobby and his girlfriend, and Franny's best friend and husband on a trip to Mallorca. And while on the outside it looks like a picturesque time on the inside they are all having their own issues.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: Last week I talked about another Rainbow Rowell book, Eleanor and Park which was very cute. Attachment, in my opinion, was so much better. And I loved Eleanor and Park. I'm not quite sure how to describe this book other than that it is about two best friends (they work in the same building), the emails they exchange at work, and the hired security who has to monitor those emails. I will say it again that I'm not typically a romance lovey-dovey book reader but this one was adorable, funny, and just overall a fantastic novel.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: A good friend of mine recommended this and I had no idea what it was about when I downloaded it. Kate Baron is a single-mother and high-profile lawyer who gets the phone call that changes her world- her daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating at school. Kate can't believe her Amelia would ever do such a thing and when she arrives the school the news becomes devastating, Amelia is dead. A supposed suicide Kate knows that this was not her daughters own doing. She spends the book piecing Amelia's previous months back together learning more about her daughter than she ever could imagine and the truth. I think I stayed up way past my bedtime the day I started (and finished) this book because I couldn't put it down. Read it.

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken: I read the first two books of Alexandra's series The Darkest Minds and then found she had written this gem first. Brightly Woven is a story filled with magic, mystery and like most YA novels that too cute love story. Sydelle's life changes with one drop of rain, a drop that brings a wizard into town. Wayland North grants this gift of rain by choosing Sydelle as his reward. He takes her on an unforgettable journey that teaches her all about her true self. I wish this had a sequel because I loved it- magic has been done so many different ways and I enjoyed how this one presented itself. And you should definitely check out her other series, The Darkest Minds- so good!

If you need some more books to read go ahead and check out all my book reviews by pressing on that lovely button over there on my sidebar that says, you guessed it, Book Reviews (original, I know).

Go be happy! 
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12 January 2015

I mustache you a question..

Weekends always go by way to fast, and while this was true of this weekend at least it was an exciting one! 

I started Saturday by meeting a friend for brunch at a new local place we had on our list for a while. It used to be this super cute place called Native, but that shutdown for "renovations" and reopened as La Bodega 47. I thought they did a nice job with the new place, the food was tasty, the layout was well thought out. I plan to brunch there again soon.

After brunch I went to Target to pick up some much needed toilet paper for my apartment, apparently I am the only on capable of doing this. It is what it is, I found some books for yesterday's baby shower and a cute hat for my nephew and only walked out with one thing not on my list. win!

In the afternoon I left for Hoboken to spend some much needed family time. My sister hosted a mini belated Hanukkah party. I enjoyed some tasty latkes, a nephew who has grown way too much, and some sister time. And bonus..... I booked a trip to Prague! I have a week off in February and it occurred to me last Friday that I didn't just have to sit on my butt or go to Florida that week, but that I could go visit a new city. So I am. I will be there for about 4 days and am ready to explore someplace different.  Friday was a great day as well- I bought tickets to go see Kinky Boots, Matilda and Book of Mormon on Broadway! The next few months should be pretty great.

Sunday was my sister's baby shower for nephew number two! He is about a month away from arriving and I cannot wait to meet him. For this shower we went with the mustache theme. My sister R is a master party planner- and knows how to cover every detail. We had mustache balloons, straws, water bottles and games (did you know there are at least 12 different types of mustaches and names for all of them?!) She bought mustache cookies, chocolates, and cupcakes. Everything was in hues of blues and greens. Our special treat was a Polaroid camera for all the guests to use to take photos and hang on a canvas to be hung in the baby's room.

Overall the party was a hit, everyone had a wonderful time, the food was delicious, we laughed with the games, and my sister received some new goodies for munchkin number two. A fun weekend for sure!



all filled up!
cutie nephew in an adorable outfit..

Hope you all had a great weekend!
Showered With Design

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09 January 2015

cheer for the weekend!

You guys, we did it! We made it through our first week back at work since the break, not that I really had a break but you know what I  mean. Friday is here, hallelujah.

First up for this fine fine far in my year goals I've excelled at eating healthier. and I went to the gym once! I know one isn't a lot, but it is one more time than I've gone in the previous 6 months so in my case it is a win. There were plans to go more times but unfortunately work/life got in the way. Next week my goal is to go again, at least once aiming for twice. We can do this!

Second- this weekend is my sister's baby sprinkle! Nephew #2 is close to arriving so instead of a full-blown shower we are having a sprinkle. Excited to share some more details of the party planning and pictures next week!(which I can't really take much credit for except for helping pay for it- all the planning is on my crafty sister)

Third-right now it is SNOWING! a legit snow, not a little dusting of fluff but snow. I love snow, I love how it looks, I love how it feels, I love how quiet it can be.

Fourth... I have a week off in February and I'm so torn about what to do with it. Do I sit around all week enjoying the not working, do I visit family in Florida, do I try and take a vacation somewhere else?? Too many choices!!

I mean I could totally go for one of these again...

and fifth... can I just give a holla out to eBates again? Seriously this site is rocking my world. I do a bulk of my shopping online and just about every store I shop out is on there, so my normal every month purchases are now getting me money back. As of now I'm expecting a 60+ return for February. Living the dream!

Happy Friday!

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08 January 2015

Stitchy Fixy: Box #8!

Stitch Fix- Box # 8.

You might realize it's been quite awhile since I've posted one of these... and that's mostly because my last two boxes I was pretty disappointed in. Things didn't fit, they sent items that looked identical to previous box items.. yada yada. Needless to say I was starting to get a bit fed up but decided, hey lets give them one more try. And thank goodness I did because this box really help perk me up and fall in love with this company, again. I still only kept 2 pieces but each piece fit well, was my style, and I was comfortable enough to show you all. Winner in my book!

I'm not sure where you've been but if for some mysterious reason you haven't heard of Stitch Fix yet you totally need to get on the bandwagon. It is this fantastic personal stylist service that sends FIVE handpicked items to your door pretty much as often as you want them. From what I've seen, once a month is average. Now you might say that sounds cool but why do I really need to sign up? Because after filling out a very extensive survey with your color, size, fabric and clothing preferences, a really awesome stylist picks out (a will say it again ) FIVE pieces to send you- accessories and clothing. Some fun facts:
  • They charge a $20 stylist fee that can be used towards whatever you purchase
  • You only pay for what you want! Send the rejects back for free.
  • If you do decide to purchase all five items you receive an additional 25% off!! woah, nelly
  • They really really love your input, your notes and reactions to the picks.
On to the good stuff...

Mak B Xavier V-Neck Knit Cardigan, size M, $48.00
I loved the color of this cardigan, and although it fit very well, was super comfy, and looks pretty nice, I returned it. The price was a bit too high for me to justify buying another cardigan. But... Stitch Fix captured my style well and sent me something that I did have to really think about before sending back. In my book that is a job well done.

Market and Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top, size M, $48.00
This shirt I really liked, I wish I had had a pair of leggings with me to wear it with because that is what it is going to be perfect for. I love how its long enough to cover my bum, is crazy soft, a really nice color and warm. Needless to say I kept it.

41Hawthorn Jace Abstract Chevron Print Dress, size M, $68.00
I don't think words can express how much I am in love with this dress. And it came at the most perfect time because I'm going to wear it to my sister's baby shower on Sunday. It is as if Stitch Fix read my mind. I didn't even tell them I needed a dress for this event and yet there it appeared at my door. I love the print, the color, the style and fit. I can wear it all year long- I can dress it up for a cocktail party, or throw on a pair of sandals for brunch this summer, I could wear it to the office (if I went to an office). See that smile up there, that is the smile of someone in love with what they are wearing.

Kut From the Cloth Jonathan Corduroy Skinny Pant, size 8, $48.00 and Papermoon Delphina Striped Knit Top, size M, $38.00
I asked for a pair of colored jeans/pants in this box and was sent this pair of corduroys. I liked them, but I didn't love them. Each winter I take a chance on cords and have yet to find a pair that I have really really liked. I also wasn't crazy about the color, I don't wear a lot of blacks/grays so I knew they wasn't going to be a ton of pieces in my closet that would match. They were comfy though and fit well, besides the length, I'm hoping to see something a little different in my next box. The shirt was okay- I thought it was very similar to the above Market and Spruce top which was really the only thing that annoyed me about this box. Putting it on it felt fine, fit well and was comfortable to wear but I didn't love the colors and I knew I was already keeping the green top and didn't want two of the same thing. I returned both of them.

Overall I was much much happier with this box compared to the previous two. All five items were my style and what I had asked for, comfortable and casual sweaters and a pair of colored pants. Everything fit well, looked nice. If you are interested in trying out your own month of Stitch Fix, go ahead and hit my referral link. So far it has been a great experience and who doesn't love getting a surprise box of clothes each month?!

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07 January 2015

Costa Rica

Over the holidays I went to Costa Rica with the family I work for- we went for about two weeks to a region called Guanacaste. Unfortunately I dropped and shattered my phone the day we left so I was unable to take but few pictures (my phone had a mind of it's own) but I can give you some details on where we stayed, my experience with the hotel and surrounding area.

We flew into the Liberia Airport in Costa Rica and drove about an hour and fifteen to the JW Marriott Resort on the Hacienda Pinilla, which is kind of a gated community. We stayed at a similar one last year when we stayed at the Four Seasons resort.

The Marriott was very nice, we had three rooms- one of which I shared with the kids. The beds were comfy and the curtains fully blacked out the windows at night, something I fully appreciated.

I thought on the best things about this hotel was the pool. The pool was a snake shape so that every chair was poolside. There were no rows of chairs layering back, no walk to put your feet into the water, every chair had access to the pool. The beach at the Marriott was also super nice. During low-tide the beach was very wide and with a large number of rocks at the bottom that created really cool tide pools. The kids and I spent hours everyday exploring these pools, searching for shells, fish, crabs and other goodies. Throughout our stay we saw a sting-ray, an octopus, a puffer-fish, an endless amount of hermit crabs, crabs, and multiple kinds of fish. The swim area of the beach was large enough that multiple families could enjoy it at once but wasn't too intense with the current. Overall a
great beach.

picture courtesy of the JW Marriott site
The thing is about this trip is that we stayed on the property almost the entire time. The hotel boasts six restaurants. An Asian-fushion dinner spot, a delicious steak house, an all day lounge with sushi and pizza, a buffet bar, and a pool-grill that turns into an Italian restaurant at night. All good, but a bit repetitive after 14 days. We did go into the nearby town one evening, the hotel offered a shuttle and it took about 30 minutes to reach the town. It was filled with restaurants and cheesy gift shops. And while it was nice to get out, it was very hard to make the trek with two children who were used to going to sleep at 8:30. If I had been there with my own family or friends I expect we would have gone more often.

The Marriott has a nice spa on their property- something I took full-advantage of, although I did find it be be a bit over priced. I had an amazing massage but could have received the same service at a different hotel or here at home for half of the cost. It was worth it at the time but I wouldn't go back there to do the same thing.

One thing I found very interesting is the wildlife we saw, or didn't see... last year we stayed at the Four Seasons resort, about an hour and half north of where we were this year. There (at the Four Seasons) we saw monkeys, iguanas, white-nose Coatis, all sorts of birds, bugs and crabs almost everyday. At the Marriott we saw almost nothing. Besides the things we saw in the water I think I viewed a handful of lizards and some birds. Well we did see a lot of cows and horses on the drive to and from the airport but I'm not sure if that counts.

Overall it was a nice hotel, and with the families government discount they received a fantastic deal ($147/night). There are direct flights to Liberia which can also be helpful and I would recommend it as a place to stay but not for as long as we did. Maybe a 5-6 day trip, and not a two week one.

And that's that!

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06 January 2015

Part One: Bookity Books!

First off, this is my 200th post. 200. 200 times in the past year I've pressed publish. 200 times people have read what I have written. At least one person. I'm actually drawing closer to my blogiversary and all I can think is wow. Here is to 200 more!

On to the good stuff- I haven't written a book review post in a quite a while, partially because I was re-reading the Outlander series for several weeks. Which was super fun because it's a great series and I hadn't read the 8th book yet and also really annoying because the author totally left a cliff-hanger on book 8 and book 9 is probably a year away from release. I shake my fist at you Diana Gabaldon!

Besides that I've been slowly working my way through another Blogging for Books book, which has actually be great because it's all about goals and accomplishments and doing out of the box things (like hiking across the US or visiting every country) and is kind of needed for my trip next year. I will attempt to finish it soon and share the insights with you...

So on to a few of my favorites in the past months- part one:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: This was a great YA novel that built a lot on intrigue and suspense. Cadence spends her summers on her family's private island with The Liars- but this particular summer is different. Cadence is recovering from an accident and there is something going on that she just can't put her finger on. Now I have to say- the writing isn't necessarily the best, and a few things were predictably, but the story is excellent. Even with the negatives you will want to know what happens. And it's a pretty quick read. Go for it!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: My first Rainbow Rowell book, and it didn't disappoint. I'm not usually one for romance/lovey-dovey books but somehow Rainbow makes them seem so normal, cutesy- but not over the top and something you can genuinely enjoy. Eleanor and Park are high-school students from completely different worlds- and they bond over music. Very cute, a sweet read and now a favorite writer.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken: A younger cousin of mine recommended this book to me over the summer, and it is the first in a great YA series- along the lines of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and so on. In a society where children start to die of a mysterious disease, the children who survive develop powers and abilities. Think mind-reading, supernatural, telekinesis powers. Instead of trying to figure out what is actually happening to them the government and the world shut all these children and teens up into camps, similar to concentration camps. Bad conditions, barely living. Ruby is one of these kids, locked up at age 10- she has now escaped as a teen and is struggling to make sense of everything going on around her, while fighting back to the powers that be. Sticking true with current trends, it is a trilogy with a few novellas in between. Worth the read and much better than Divergent!!

I am the Messenger  by Markus Zusak: Markus Zusak stole my heart away with The Book Thief, and while this is another excellent book of his, it is not to the same caliber. Great writing, but lacking a bit with the heart strings. Ed Kennedy is a 19-year old cab driver, going nowhere in his life, desperately in love with his best friend and has the worlds smelliest dog. After aiding to stop a robbery Ed receives a mysterious card with what seems like random names. And with it becomes the messenger- learning to care for and help others around his town.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: If you haven't yet read The Shining, then you need to go out and do so now. I know, I know- The Shining is scary! And it is- but not at all to the same level as the movie is, the book (as usual) is much better. After you read it, come back and read Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. A story just as excellent if not better. For those  you have read or watched- Doctor Sleep is about Danny, 25 odd years later, dealing with his crazy childhood and the powers he has. Danny meets Abra, a little girl who shines even harder than he does and desperately needs his help.

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