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Book Review: The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

Book Review: The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

Happy Saturday, bookworms! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend (and enjoys their extra day off on Monday if their lucky enough to have it!). Below I have a review of a great book for you guys. Trust me on this one, add this book […]

Push up Challenge

Push up Challenge

Hi friends! Candace Cameron Bure (DJ from Full House!) and her trainer Kira Stokes issued a push up challenge at the beginning of this year . If you do 50 push ups a day for 360 (you get 5 days off) you’ll end the year […]

Book Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Book Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Hey readers! I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday. Below, I’ve got a review for a book I just finished. The Changeling has been on my radar for a while as I really enjoy fairy tale retellings, and it did not disappoint! I had to scramble a bit to finish this book before it was due back at the library, but I’m so glad I did.

Just as Apollo, a used book dealer, has begun to settle into life with his wife, Emma, a librarian, and their new son, Emma begins to act strange. As the signs of postpartum depression begin to grow in Emma, Apollo begins to pull away from his wife. Before Apollo can get her the help she needs, Emma does the unthinkable to their child and vanishes.

As Apollo begins the quest he never saw coming to find his wife, he learns that maybe Emma wasn’t crazy. He’ll venture to an forgotten island in the East River of NYC, a graveyard on Long Island, and a forest in Queens. Along the way, Apollo will learn that some fairy tales are true and that he might be able to get back to the life he thought he lost forever.

Can a person read too many whimsical books? I’ve been on a kick lately that doesn’t seem to be letting up. I just love the blend of real life and fantasy – it makes me feel like the world does have a little magic in it. While this book was whimsical, it was definitely dark and focused on fairy tales for adults, not the kind we tell to children, and I loved that as a change from the more light-hearted whimsical books I’ve been reading. “A bad fairy tale has some simple goddamn moral. A great fairy tale tells the truth.” I think this might have been my favorite line from the book as Apollo spent the whole book looking for the truth, even though it was painful, rather than sticking his head in the sand and pretending things could go back to normal.

This book sets up the story of changelings so well. Subtle hints are mentioned as the story progresses about the fairy tale of human children being replaced by other creatures and raised by those creatures who stole them. But the reader is never hit over the head with it. NYC is a great backdrop for this story, with plenty of well known locations throughout the five boroughs mentioned in the book. I completely geeked out way too much when my specific branch of the New York Public Library was mentioned in the story!

I also loved the smaller details that Lavalle did a good job of connecting throughout the story – you can tell the author paid attention to the small things when he writes and it made the story even more engaging. The story was filled with great descriptions, but wasn’t so poetic that it was annoying to read or slowed down the plot.

As Apollo goes on his quest (they never call it that, but it’s what he’s doing – there’s so many parallels to the classic fairy tales without hitting you over the head with them) he met so many dynamic characters who all ended up being so much more than they had originally appeared to be. I also loved the twist about Apollo’s father. I never saw it coming, and I think it explained a lot of questions I had from the beginning of the book. The ending wasn’t the most surprising part of the plot, but I enjoyed it all the same. I have so many questions about what happens next for the characters, but I’ll have to live with how the author left the story–they “lived happily today”.

Rating 4/ 5 – I loved this darker fairy tale re-telling. If you’re into whimsical, fairy tales, or just want a good read, pick this one up!

Book Review: The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

Book Review: The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

Hey bookworms! I’ve got a book review that I’m really excited about to share with you today. I’ve been wanting to read The Sky is Yours since last year when I first heard about it, I mean just look at that cover! The book came […]

What’s saving me right now

What’s saving me right now

Hey friends! Every year at the half point of winter Anne Bogel from The Modern Mrs. Darcy complies a list of both the small and big things that are saving her life. She always invites readers to join in, and while I’ve loved the idea, […]

Running Out of Pages Reading Challenge January Update!

Running Out of Pages Reading Challenge January Update!

Hey Bookworms!

I’m so excited to be checking in with my first update on the Running out of Pages Reading Challenge! If you missed what’s going on, you’re not too late, check it out here.

I tackled the category “A book set where you live” and actually read two books set in NYC (although both are from past time periods).

The English Wife by Lauren Willig (check out my full review here)

When Janie’s brother Bayard is found with a knife in his chest, and his wife Annabelle presumed drowned in the Hudson, she is sure that her brother isn’t responsible as the papers suggest. With the help of a reporter, Janie begins to dig into the past of the brother she wasn’t close with and his mysterious English wife. The more she learns about their pasts, the more Janie realizes she might not have known them at all.

I love a good historical mystery, and this book did not disappoint. The story sucked me in from the start, and I couldn’t put it down (ask Jeff). The story is set in NYC in the 1890s and begins with the murder. From there, the story alternates between the present, with Janie and her family trying to come to terms with what has happened, and the past, showing Bayard and Annabelle’s lives up until the murder. I gave this book a 5/ 5 – it was a great historical mystery, with plenty of juicy family drama, twists and turns, and witty writing.

The Alienist by Caleb Carr (check out my full review here)

In New York City in 1896, a string of horrific murders have begun to take place. A young boy’s body is found mutilated and left on the Williamsburg Bridge. This young boy was not the first victim and, sadly, will not be the last. Crime reporter John Moore teams up with Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, an “alienist” or psychologist, along with several detectives from the police force (including one woman who is determined to be the first woman officer in the NYPD), to try to solve these murders with never-before-used criminology methods.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Although a longer story, the pacing was great, the characters were dynamic, and the murderers were gruesome without being over the top. I really loved the psychology that is underlying the whole story.  Certainly, some of the theories they used are no longer considered sound science, but it was fascinating to see how the team used small clues to create an image/background of the killer. The criminology, including the discussion of the use of fingerprints (even though it was a science that had not yet been approved for courtroom use) was well done and added an extra layer to the crime solving. Another 5/ 5 for me – This book was a great historical mystery that not only had a unique serial killer, but also had dynamic characters, a great blend of action and witty dialogue, and a great look at how criminology and profiling (or the lack thereof) worked in the late 1890s.



My mom crossed off “A fictional book about your career” in January. My mom was a librarian growing up (I know, I know, my mom had the coolest job in the world and it’s no surprise where my love of reading came from). After I graduated high school, my mom retired from the library and went back to nursing (what her undergraduate degree is in). Ever the over-achieving reader, she read one book for each of her careers. Below are her thoughts on the two books she read (thanks mom!). 

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

The Bookshop on the Corner

“I enjoyed this story of a librarian who is downsized from her big city library job and moves to a small rural area, fills a van with books, & does what she loves, matching a reader with the perfect book. I enjoyed this book; the community is full of interesting quirky folks eager to read & actually buy books. Recommending a book that a reader enjoys is something I always found rewarding and Nina is wonderful at it. I would have preferred more ‘literary matches’ and less of the ‘love triangle.'”

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

The Stolen Marriage

“This book was about a nurse working with polio patients in 1944 in North Carolina. This book got top reviews, but I thought it was schmaltzy with a weak protagonist who I didn’t sympathize with.  I always have issues reading or watching medical books/shows because of mistakes, and this nurse and doctor also said and did things I didn’t think a nurse or doctor would do. I did like the racial subplot, and the twist was good.”


While Jeff enjoys reading, he’s always been more into short articles and research studies. Reading 12 books will be a bit of a challenge for him, but he’s started out strong with a long book! This month Jeff completed “the next book in a series you love”. 

Xenocide By Orson Scott Card

Xenocide (Ender's Saga, #3)

“This book is the third in the Ender series.  The story is remarkably different from the original Ender’s Game, which was largely action and adventure.  If the first book was Star Wars Episode IV, this book is sorta the Episode II of the series.  Although it had a lot of the same characters and related elements, it largely explored the politics and relationships of the characters, with only a little action and excitement thrown in to make some less exciting moments more interesting.  I changed my mind about this book several times while I read it.  Card explores several concepts related to God, gods, the self, and the relationships between those things.  In the end, I think he does it pretty well.  Sometimes, he gets a little too meta, but the characters he creates to explore the ideas are interesting, clever, and believable.  Some pieces are a little hard to follow, not just because Card is reporting on two different theaters, but because there are a lot of characters, who often pop-up quickly and disappear just as fast, and he doesn’t keep their roles very distinct.  Given the current developments in real-world technology, this book was extra interesting because the book explores the concept of evolving artificial intelligence and how we use it, treat it, and interact with it.”


What did you read this month?



January – What I read this month

January – What I read this month

Hey bookworms! I can’t believe January is almost over! It flew by with work stress and all the meal prep (and dishes!) involved in Whole30. I’m looking forward to February, which hopefully will be a bit more relaxing! I read 10 books in January. I’m […]

Whole30 Week 4 – We’re almost there!

Whole30 Week 4 – We’re almost there!

Hey friends! I hope everyone had a great week. This week has pretty easy Whole30 wise, I’m not really craving anything, and I’ve felt better than I did during the first 3 weeks. The finish line is in sight! Normally, after the 30 days of […]

Half Marathon training update

Half Marathon training update

Hi friends!

Jeff has kindly reminded me that when I started this thing the whole point was to have a place to talk about both reading and running (or working out in general), and I’ve really been neglecting the running aspect. So I thought I would give you all an update on how my training is going for my half marathon in DC this March.

I’ve been following Peanut Butter Runners 12 week intermediate half marathon training plan (I started the week of January 1st)  and will be on week 10 when the half rolls around. The plan runs the program Monday through Sunday with long runs on Saturday. With my crazy work schedule (I have a different work schedule each week with different hours and different travel time to offices), I’m not able to plan my long runs for the same day each week, and I run my schedule on a Sunday through Saturday plan to match with my work calendar.

Training has been going well so far, but it’s been really cold in NYC the first few weeks of January so my long runs have mostly been on a treadmill, which hasn’t been ideal, but totally doable with Netflix and my kindle.

Sunday – I attended my favorite weight class, Body Pump! It’s a nation wide weight class that uses barbells and I love it. I always leave feeling really strong.

Monday – I know I shouldn’t do back to back weight classes, but my favorite instructors teach Body Pump on Sunday and Monday mornings, so if I get a chance to take the classes I always go for it.  Thus, this Monday was another day of Body Pump.  I hadn’t done the new release before Sunday (it’s a set program that every class is doing no matter where you’re taking it), so while I struggled a little Sunday I felt much better on Monday having done the release once already and left feeling good.

Tuesday – Due to the the sun setting pretty early right now I had to do my long run inside – per the schedule my long run was only 6 miles this week. I’m not the fastest runner by any means and for some reason I always run way slower on the treadmill than outside. I finished the 6 miles in 65 minutes. 

Wednesday – I woke up super early to get in a yoga class and then my instructor never showed! I was so mad – I struggle when I don’t go to the gym with a set plan so I ended up doing a 10 minute ab workout, a short upper body weight circuit, and a 10 minute yoga flow on my own at the end.

Thursday – 4 miles on the treadmill – finished in around 48 minutes.

Friday – I did a total body work out from Peanut Butter Runner (I mixed it up just a little by adding push ups in). I did each superset twice (I didn’t have a ton of time). Jeff also took some photos of me for a push up post that’s coming in February!

Saturday – Rest day! I had to work and needed to run a few errands after work with Jeff so I took the day off.

Sunday – I have a 3 mile run planned after work (again on the treadmill because it will be dark out when I get home from work).

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Book Review: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Book Review: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Hi Bookworms! My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a book I’ve been hearing about a lot recently (both good things and not-so-good things). It has been billed as a haunting story with fierce language and a dark side. With a description like that I […]

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