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Book Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

Book Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

Hi Friends! I picked up the below book as part of the Black Hearts Reads (check them out on Instagram @blackheartreads) book club. They pick a new “creepy, dark, and twisted” book each month with a discussion on Instagram at the end of the month. […]

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I just wanted to drop in and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

What I read for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge – Reading for Growth

What I read for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge – Reading for Growth

Hi Friends!

Happy Christmas Eve (if you’re celebrating!). I hope everyone is getting a chance to relax a little today and get some reading in.

I’ve got to getting some baking done and make a batch of sangria but hopefully when that’s done I’ll be able to get in some more reading!

As promised, here is the list of what I read for the MMD reading for growth challenge!


A Newbery Award winner or Honor book:

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl who Drank the Moon – Barnhill

When the forest witch accidentally feeds the baby she’s taking to a welcoming new family (moonlight instead of starlight), she has to raise the baby as her own.

3/ 5 – A fun, quick read that is full of magic.


A book in translation:

The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian – Han Kang

After a nightmare, Yeong-hye becomes a vegetarian throwing her whole family into chaos.

3/ 5 – This book was strange and includes some scenes that are pretty graphic.  The ending was thought provoking, but I’m still not sure if I actually liked the book or not.


A book that’s more than 600 pages:

So the plan was to read Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King and Owen King but I ran out of time to finish it before 2018. Looking back on the books I read this year, it turns out I read The Court of the Air which is 582, so not quite 600 but still not bad for me.

The Court of the Air – Stephen Hunt

The Court of the Air (Jackelian, #1)

Murder, ancient power, thieves, outlaws, and secrets follow Molly and Oliver as they race to save the world from destruction.

3/ 5 – On paper this book had everything I could want in a story, but something fell flat for me when I was reading it. I got bored several times and even had a hard time getting through the book.


A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection: 

The Geek Feminist Revolution

The Geek Feminist Revolution – Hurley

A collection of essays on feminism and geek culture.

4/ 5 – I really enjoyed this. A longer review of what I thought can be found here


A book of any genre that addresses current events:

Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young – Gabrielle Zevin

When Aviva Grossman has an affair with her married congressmen boss, her whole world comes crashing down while he hardly gets a scratch.

3/ 5 – I enjoyed the realistic look at this situation, and liked that each section of the book was from a different woman’s perspective who was affected by the affair.  Still, there was something that stopped me from being over the moon about it even though I enjoyed it.


An immigrant story:

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi – Shandhya Menon

Dimple heads to a web developer’s summer program before college to get a break from her mother’s search for the “Ideal Indian Husband” for her. When it turns out Rishi, the boy her parents hope she’ll marry ends up at the program as well, both Dimple and Rishi need to figure out what they really want in life.

3/ 5 – A super cute read! I love that Dimple was a girl into science and technology and Rishi was adorable.


A book published before you were born:

My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier

When the man who raised Philip dies suddenly after quickly marrying during a trip to Florence, Philip prepares to hate the women who might have caused the death of his dear uncle. When Rachel arrives, however, Philip finds himself drawn to this beautiful woman who may have killed his uncle.

3/ 5 – The book was a little slow for me, but I did like the ending even though I’m still not quite sure what happened with everyone (sometimes I still wonder about it).


Three books by the same author:

The Bookshop on the CornerLittle Beach Street Bakery The Cafe by the Sea

I ended up reading two Jenny Colgan books before I realized that the books were by the same author. I read The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and The Cafe by the Sea.

I gave all three 3/ 5 – They were cute, but had essentially the same plot with slight variations. I think The Bookshop on the Corner might have been my favorite of the three.


A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author:

All the Birds in the Sky

All the Birds in the sky – Anders

When childhood friends go their separate ways in high school under mysterious circumstances, they didn’t think that, as adults, they would be working to either save the world or let it fall into a new dark age.

3/ 5 – I’m still not sure what I read. This book was strange and I had a hard time following it, which is sad because in the summary there seemed to have many things I love to read about (magic, the end of the world, technology gone wrong).


A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending:

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress – Lawhon

A prominent Judge disappears one summer night in 1930 in NYC. The story follows the three women who spent the most time with him, his wife, his maid, and his mistress, as they try to come to terms with what happened.

4/ 5 – I enjoyed this historical mystery, the three women were characters with more depth than appeared at first glance. The ending wasn’t a huge surprise, but I still enjoyed it and was surprised by a few of the little details. I also enjoyed that this story was molded after real places and people and that Lawhon included historical facts at the end of the book after the story.


A book nominated for an award in 2017:

Whispers Beyond the Veil (A Change of Fortune Mystery #1)

Whispers Beyond the Veil – Estevao

A historical mystery set in a hotel that features all things psychic in Maine in the 1890s.

4/ 5 -The characters grew on me as the story progressed and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series. A longer review of what I thought can be found here!


A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The 6th Extinction – Kolbert

A nonfiction story that discusses how humans have altered life on Earth unlike anything else.

I’m still working on this one, but it’s amazing. Kolbert’s writing style is informative and interesting. I’m hooked and, although it’s non-fiction, I don’t want to put it down at night. I also think the message is one everyone needs to hear as we only have one planet and need to TAKE MUCH BETTER CARE OF IT!

I hope everyone got to read some great things in 2017!

What was your favorite book that you read in 2017?

What I read for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge – Reading for Fun

What I read for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge – Reading for Fun

Hi friends! I attempted to complete both Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading for fun and reading for growth book challenges this year and did pretty well (I didn’t quite complete either challenge)! I read some really good books and some not so great books for the […]

Book Review: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

Book Review: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

Hi readers! I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season and getting in lots of great winter/holiday themed books. Tis the season and all! Below I have a review of  Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, […]

Best of 2017

Best of 2017


As another year comes to a close, it’s always fun to look back and remember the best parts of the year. Below, I complied my favorite things from 2017, including the best books I read, my favorite fitness adventures, the best things I ate, and the best trips I took!

Best Books I read (in no particular order): 

The Dry: Jane Harper

Set in Australia during an extreme drought, Federal Agent Aaron Falk has to travel back to his small home town after his childhood best friend, Luke, dies. Soon it turns out there might have been more to Luke’s death than originally thought; as Aaron digs into his best friends death, old mysteries that he thought had been buried come back to haunt Aaron.

This book kept me guessing until the end, and I loved that the two different mysteries that the plot revolves around were intertwined while still being separate. The characters, including the town and weather ,were believable and yet contained so many layers.

The Flood Girls: Richard Fifield

Flood girls follows Rachel Flood as she returns to her hometown of Quinn, Montana, population of 956. As Rachel looks to make amends for her past, she teams up with her young next door neighbor Jake, who just doesn’t quite fit in in Quinn.

This book will make you laugh and cry, and after reading this book way back in January of 2017 I’m stilling thinking about the ending.

The Burning World (Warm Bodies #2): Isaac Marion

This is the second book in the Warm Bodies trilogy. Warm Bodies follows R, a very unique zombie, and Julie as they try save the world from the plague that has destroyed civilization as we know it.

There is something about the way Marion crafts his characters that I just can’t get enough of. The plot is unique (which is saying a lot for a zombie series) and I never see the twists and turns coming. I can’t wait until August 2018 for the last book to see how R’s journey ends.

The Roanoke Girls: Amy Engel

When Lane gets a call that her cousin Allegra has gone missing, she is forced to return to the home she fled (and promised never to return to) when she was young.

This book was seriously twisted and I loved it. The family drama and secrets that had been festering for years come to light and Lane has to learn how to live with what her family has done.

A Million Junes: Emily Henry

Loosely modeled after Romeo and Juliet, A Million Junes is set in Michigan and follows June and Saul, the boy her family has forbidden her to befriend, as the magic of the town of Five Fingers grows stronger the closer they get to uncovering the truth of the cruse that has plagued their two families for generations.

The writing of this story was beautiful, the plot whimsical with some darker elements tossed in, and the characters were fun to root for.

The Flood Girls The Burning World (Warm Bodies, #2)  A Million Junes

I seem to have a thing for books this year that focus on the main character returning home for some form of redemption – weird, but I’m just going to go with it.

My favorite Races:

SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon – Central Park NYC April 30th 2017

This was my second time running the SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon and so far it’s been my favorite half marathon – the event staff is amazing and the race always runs with out a hitch. The race starts in Central Park and it’s been great to walk over from my apartment just a few minutes before it starts. I’ve run my fastest half marathon yet on this course (it ends up being a little more than 2 loops of central park) 2:01:54 and it’s always fun to see what celebrities come out to run it (last year Sara Bareilles was there!).

Nations Triathlon – Olympic length Washington DC September 10th 2017

This was my first triathlon and I finished in 3:24:08- I struggled with the swim but loved the bike and run which went by all the monuments in DC. Plus my parents were there to cheer me on, which always makes a race better! Check out my post on the tri for full recap of the race.


The best things I ate:

Warm chocolate almond bread – Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (Universal Studios – Citywalk)

This bread was amazing – like Jeff and I went back the next day as a break from the parks just to get this bread again. It wasn’t overly sweet and you could actually taste the almond. It was also reasonably priced for the size of the loaf.

Fresh Fish in Alaska

While in Alaska, I had the chance to eat salmon that was just-caught and cooked on an open fire and halibut on the grill (along with some other amazing fish dishes – including a smoked salmon dip). I love fish, and it’s never better than when it’s fresh.

Superman Ice cream (Michigan)

A staple in the summer time in Michigan. It is always a mix of red, yellow, and blue ice cream and is normally blue moon, cherry, and lemon ice flavored. I had the chance to get it a few times this summer when Jeff and I were back in Michigan.

Frittata Scramble Bagel Breakfast Sandwich – Spread Bagelry Philadelphia (Madeline and Michael took us here when we went to visit them in Philadelphia which was also an amazing trip filled with super good food and tons of fun!)

The bagel was amazing and the fillings were unique while still being tasty breakfast options. I got one with eggs, cheddar, bacon, tomatoes, and strawberry jam. The sweet jam with the salty bagel/fillings was amazing. The line wasn’t awful when we went but Madeline said it gets really out of hand most weekends.

Apple/Cranberry pie – November 2017 (Cream Cheese crust)

For Thanksgiving this year I made a apple/cranberry pie with a homemade cream cheese crust. I was really surprised with how well it turned out, and I loved the tartness that the cranberries added – definitely a pie I’ll make again.


My favorite Trips this year (I took/visited many more people than I can include here–I limited myself to six picks, but I had a blast every where I went this year and it was so amazing to get to see so many wonderful friends and family this year!!!): 

DisneyWorld – January 2017

Jeff and I joined Karly, Ross, Scott, and Maria for a trip to Disney world at the beginning of the year. We had a blast and Maria is an amazing planner – which meant we utilized the fast pass system to the max and fit the most into the few days there that we possibly could.

Atlanta – January 2017

Chris, Jeff, and I flew down to Atlanta to hang out with Dante for a weekend in January. Even though it was a little chilly, we had a blast seeing where Dante has been spending all his time, checking out the College Football Hall of Fame, and drinking a ton of beer.


San Francisco – July 2017

Steph, one of my good college friends, got married just outside San Francisco in the beginning of July. The wedding was beautiful, the reception was a blast, and we got to spend a ton of time with Madeline and Michael. After the wedding we spent a day in San Francisco proper and had a chance to visit with Sofia, one of the first friends I made in college! We had a blast and the weather was amazing.

Sorry for the blur but they were playing our song!


Alaska – July/August 2017

Jeff, Karly, Ross, and I rented an RV for a little under 2 weeks and drove around the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. We saw a ton of wildlife (including a bear and her two cubs right by our RV – the cubs were playing on our bumper), kayaked around glaciers, had several great bonfires, did a ton of hiking (including Exit Glacier and Alyeska), and again drank a ton of beer from local breweries. We also had the chance to stay a night in Seattle on our way back home and got to catch up with some west coast friends!

Michigan/Ann Arbor – November 2017

A bunch of our friends joined us back in Michigan the weekend of our one year anniversary to celebrate in style – and by in style I mean with a tailgate and going to the Michigan v. Minnesota game. The weather was awful (it hailed at one point) but it stopped in time for the game which was a blast!

DC – November 2017

The very next weekend we headed to DC to see a bunch of our friends and go to the Michigan v. Maryland game. The weather was cold but we had a blast at the game and getting to see our friends was fantastic.

All in all it was an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what amazing things I do, read, eat, and the great places I go in 2018!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful end to their 2017!

What were your favorite things this year?

Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey & Please make these cookies

Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey & Please make these cookies

Hi friends! I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to their week. I’m so excited because Jeff and I are getting a chance to spend some time with my parents and it’s been full of food and fun! I recently finished The Snow Child […]

Happy National Cookie Day!

Happy National Cookie Day!

Happy National Cookie Day! Now this is a “holiday” I can get behind! Jeff has a holiday cookie swap on Thursday so we’re whipping up a batch of chocolate chip almond cookies tonight. They turned out really well – check out the recipe if you […]

Book Review: Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H Wilson

Book Review: Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H Wilson

Hi guys! I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend and is getting in plenty of reading and running! I got in a 5 mile run before Jeff and I headed out to the Union Square holiday shops this morning. We’re also hoping to catch a viewing of Murder on the Orient Express later today!

Below I have a review of Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H Wilson, a fantastic book that I really enjoyed reading and I hope you will too!

The Clockwork Dynasty

Moving seamlessly between past and present, Clockwork Dynasty follows June, an anthropologist studying ancient technology as she is thrown into a hidden world that holds more secrets than she could ever imagine; Peter, a human-like mechanical creation; and Elena, Peter’s sister who find themselves key players in the survival of their species.

Clockwork Dynasty started a little slow for me, but once the story got rolling I couldn’t put the book down. The book switches between the past and present at each chapter and while some stories can seem a little disjointed when using this method it worked well in Clockwork Dynasty. I enjoyed moving back and forth between what was occurring in the present and what happened in the past which lead to the current situation.

I loved June. She was a tough character who wasn’t afraid to protect herself, but still had moments of fear and panic about what she was getting herself into. She felt realistic and, honestly, I just love reading about female anthropologists. I felt so bad for Peter as his story unfolded throughout the book, and Elena was a great counter to Peter’s character. The other second characters and villains were diverse and multifaceted.

Daniel Wilson has degrees in computer science and robotics which really shine through in the science and sci-fi elements of this story. A few times the robotics got a little confusing for me, but I was able to figure out what was going on and really enjoyed imaging the creations Wilson was describing.

Rating 4/ 5 – A fantastic, well developed adventure filled with unique characters and wonderful uses of science. Not just for those interested in steampunk stories but fantasy and sci-fi in general, along with anyone who loves a good adventure. I highly recommend this book!

Reading anything exciting this weekend? Doing anything festive?

Book Review: Bonfire By Krysten Ritter

Book Review: Bonfire By Krysten Ritter

Hey readers! Below I have my review of Krysten Ritter’s first novel Bonfire. While I think the plot wasn’t the most original, I do think it’s worth a read if you’re a fan of Krysten Ritter from her shows and want to check out her […]

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