My Week in Books

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Welcome to My Week in Books!

This has been a rough week. I came back to Minnesota and while I still had time (classes don’t start until this coming Tuesday) I did take an all-day class Wednesday and Thursday and there just wasn’t anything I wanted to read. So many books, but nothing that sounds remotely appealing.

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The Offer by Karina Halle: Pleasantly surprised to have really enjoyed this one given how much I disliked The Pact.

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The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Sadly this was more serious than I expected, I thought it would be more fun, but it was still an interesting read.

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Never Tear Us Apart by Monica Murphy: Full of melodrama and angst, but a pretty good book given all of that. The whole story made me really uncomfortable, but I imagine that’s the point.

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The Score by Elle Kennedy: My favorite in this wonderful series. I literally never wanted it to end.

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The Year We Fall Down by Sarina Bowen: This had been on my TBR for two years and when I saw the library had the ebook I figured I would finally give it a try. I thought it was great and it was nice to read about differently abled characters.

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The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen: I didn’t like this as much as The Year We Fell Down, but I still enjoyed it.

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Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman: I want to like this, but it just feels so unnecessary. And that characters I liked in the first book are driving me crazy. My continuation is unclear.

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Dear Emma by Katie Heaney: I got this from NetGalley this week and immediately started it because nothing else seemed appealing. The main character is pretty whiney and I’m not really clear where the story is going but we’ll see.

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The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


Book Review: The Bollywood Bride

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Title: The Bollywood Bride
Author: Sonali Dev
Release Date: 9/29/2015
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After loving The Bollywood Affair I knew I needed to read The Bollywood Bride. I think (although I honestly don’t really remember) that Ria, the main character here, is featured in The Bollywood Affair as an ice queen, which is how she is known in this book, too. I’m just going to go ahead and say my favorite thing right now, Ria is a haunted character, like angsty new adult level of haunted, but her story is handled really well and there wasn’t a moment that I disliked her or wasn’t cheering for her.

Ria is a super famous Bollywood actress who is known for always playing the innocent bride and being a total ice queen. Ria’s cousin, who she spent summers with growing up, begs/guilts Ria into coming to his wedding in Chicago, where they spent summers, and she agrees to go which forces her to confront demons from her past. And that’s pretty much the story, which makes it seem kind of simple and straight-forward, which is is, but the story is handled so wonderfully.

Ria had a really terribly childhood, her mother suffered from extreme mental illness which not only traumatized Ria because of what she physically and emotionally experienced, but also because she’s desperately afraid of turning into her mother. Ria’s one childhood refuge was her summer’s in Chicago, with her aunt, uncle, cousin, and her cousin’s cousin Vikram who Ria had a secret, amazing romance with when she was younger, and who she’s still in love with 10-ish years later. Going back to Chicago for her cousin’s wedding terrifies Ria, mostly because she’s seeing Vikram for the first time since their terrible breakup.

Throughout the story Ria just seemed so sad and so damaged, but never in a way that made me dislike her (which is a big struggle for me with damaged characters). At first it was a little difficult to understand why she was the way she was, but as more of her story was revealed it just made sense and Sonali Dev handled a difficult situation with grace and respect. There were certainly moments where I wanted to strangle Ria, but taking a step back and imaging what she was going through made it easier to understand why she was acting a certain way or doing something seemingly nonsensical.

The secondary characters were also fantastic. Ria’s cousin and his fiancee were great friends for Ria to have and a different side of her personality came out when she was with them. I also loved her aunt and uncle, who were really like parents to her, and their extended, large Indian friend group in Chicago. In a lot of ways I learned more about Indian culture from this book than I did from A Bollywood Affair, even though that book has more scenes in India.

And then there was the romance. At first Vikram seemed a little unlikable, but as time went on his personality came out and it was nice to see how much he cared about Ria (even if it took a while for it to happen). As a big fan of friends-to-lovers romances and boy-next-door romances (which this technically isn’t, but since they spent a lot of time together as kids it has that feeling) this romance really worked for me and I loved every second of it.

Bottom Line: The Bollywood Bride is another winning story from Sonali Dev. Once again I was transported into this wonderful Indian culture and a great romance. It wasn’t as funny as The Bollywood Affair, I definitely shed some tears, but a difficult story was handled beautifully and it was an endearing story that I definitely recommend.

Two Years Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend


Top 10 Tuesday: 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn’t

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I love this topic because I’ve actually done a really good job at reading 2015 books over the last few weeks. Although technically I suppose that makes it harder to make a list of books I haven’t gotten to since I’ve since read a bunch of them. But there are always more books to read!

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1. Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu: I’ve really enjoyed both of Corey’s first two books and this one sounds like it might be more up my alley than those!

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2. Unleashed by Sophie Jordan: I loved the first book in this series, but somehow I don’t even remember really hearing about the sequel.

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3. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman: Another one where I really liked the first book and then never read the second.

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4. Skandal by Lindsay Smith: Ditto the last two :)

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5. Like it Never Happened by Emily Adrian: This was on my list of debuts I was excited for and then I completely forgot about it. Still think it sounds great.

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6. Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian: Carrie’s first two books made her one of my favorite authors and even though I don’t love the story for this one I still want to read it.

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7. Not After Everything by Michelle Levy: Another one that was on my list of highly anticipated debuts that just fell away.

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8. The Distance From Me to You by Marina Gessner: I think I only added this to my TBR more recently, but it still sounds great.

And I think this list is good enough at 8. Guess I should have read fewer 2015 books :)

Two Years Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: 2014 Debuts I’m Excited About


Book Review: Velvet Undercover

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Title: Velvet Undercover
Author: Teri Brown
Release Date: 10/20/2015
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I won’t lie, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I just wanted to know what that girl was thinking. Then I read the description and saw it was about spies and it was historical fiction and I knew I had to give it a try. As I was reading I kept thinking Teri Brown was trying for a Code Name Verity-like story and while it didn’t quite reach that level, it was an entertaining book.

Samantha is a young British woman who is just finishing school. She’s very smart and since World War I is currently going on she expects to start working for the government as a secretary or a kind of messenger. Samantha’s father works for the British government as a diplomat and has been missing for the last year. They were very close and she is desperate for news about him. When she goes to interview for a job with the government she’s surprised to be offered a job as a spy, with the famed La Dame Blanche, a group of daring female spies. While she’s nervous to leave her mother, who’s already lost her father, she agrees to join La Dame Blanche in exchange for news about her father.

After she joins she is quickly whisked off to France for training where she finds out she is going to need to insert herself into the German Kaiser’s court in order to rescue a spy, Velvet, whose life is believed to be in danger. Samantha has to quickly settle into her new identity and role and travel to Berlin where she’s literally on her own trying to find Velvet while navigating the gossip and intrigue of the German court.

Samantha was a great character and the story moved along very quickly without ever feeling rushed. My World War I history isn’t so great, but the way the story was constructed I bought into Samantha as a role of spy and the British government arranging such a mission. There were a large number of characters in the story to manage and a lot of intrigue. As I was reading I didn’t mind it, but when I look back on the book little things or mysteries that I thought would build into something bigger never panned out. I don’t know if they were put there to throw readers off what was actually going on or if the story just wasn’t mapped out well enough, but either way they make the story less strong.

For people like me who appreciate romance in a story there is some here. Samantha befriends one of the royal guards and they have a flirtation in which she’s not sure if she can actually trust him. While the romance worked as I was reading it, it did sometimes seem to take away from the rest of the story and the way the romance, and the story, ended it seemed too convenient.

Bottom Line: For the most part Velvet Undercover is a fast-paced, interesting story about a young girl embroiled in World War I. There were a few parts of the story that were a touch confusing and the romance didn’t always work out, but it’s still an enjoyable story that presents history in an accessible way.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own. 

Two Years Ago: Book Review: The Scar Boys


My Week in Books

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Welcome to My Week in Books!

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Full reviews to come for all of these!

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Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Malone: This book made me think a lot about the differences between ancient Rome and today’s, but ultimately I thought it lacked a story.

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Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt: This was definitely like a fairytale and I had some issues with it, but I liked the story and the main character.

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Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern: I loved this book, it was hard to read at times, but the voice was great and it really made me think about something I thought I was sure about.

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Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain: Not as good as The Good Sister, but I still enjoyed this one.

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover: Better than Confess, but still melodramatic in the end.

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Stand-Off by Andrew Smith: I am so sad I waited a few months to read this and so sad that Ryan Dean is no longer in my life. I absolutely loved the story.

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Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings: I’m having a hard time putting my feelings for this book into words, I liked the story and the writing was strong, but I think maybe it doesn’t work as a YA book?

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Big Rock by Lauren Blakely: Super fun! A good mix of sexy and sweet and very well done.

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Built by Jay Crownover: Better than Jay Crownover’s last few books, but didn’t quite have the magic of her first few books.

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Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry: I don’t know if I loved it quite as much as Nowhere But Here, but I still enjoyed it and it was a nice continuation of the series.

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The Offer by Karina Halle: I was hesitant to read this after The Pact, but I’m 30% or so in and I’m actually really liking it.

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My Life with the Liars by Caela Carter // Leave Me by Gayle Forman

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When We Collided by Emery Lord

Have a great week, everyone!


Off the Pages: So You Want to Be Healthier

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If you’ve read my blog before you know that I am going to school to be a registered dietitian and that health is very important to me. I debated about whether I wanted to do a post about this, but I like my non-bookish posts and people also seem to respond well to them so I figured I would try.

A few disclaimers before we start. First, while I am in school to be a registered dietitian you should always consult with your own medical professional(s) before making any major diet or exercise-related changes. Second, these are my opinions, they are what works for me and what, based on what I’ve learned, I believe is the optimal way to live a long, healthy, and happy life. Different things work for different people and the science behind our health is constantly evolving.

So you want to be healthier. We’re a week into 2016, how are those resolutions going? Did you lose 40lbs yet? Are you a resolutionary who’s been at the gym two hours a day for a week? And I bet you haven’t had any sweets or fatty foods either, right? Or maybe not? Being healthy is hard. Even with everything I know it’s not always something that’s achievable (true story: the only mean comment I’ve ever received on my blog was someone telling me I was too fat to be a registered dietitian). Most of us live in a world where we sit most of the day, eat quickly while on the go, and spend way too much time in front of phones/tablets/TVs. So how to do you change that? Sadly, there is no easy way. If you want to make a change you need to commit to that change and work for that change every day. That doesn’t sound so fun, does it? It often isn’t, but there are ways to make it manageable and, I think, a little fun.

1. Don’t Change Everything at Once: This is the best way to set yourself up for failure. Picking a day (January 1st, next Monday, the third Thursday in February) and using that day as a jumping off point to start going to the gym every day, stop drinking soda, and walking 10,000 steps/day probably isn’t going to work. Sorry. But saying this month you’re going to go to the gym three times a week and then next month you’re going to drink three cans of Diet Coke a day instead of five and then using those as jumping off points to start new habits might stick. How I am putting it into practice: January is the month of no sweets. I did this is March of 2015 and I felt great and looked amazing (I have a really terrible sweet tooth). In February I am going to do yoga every day.

2. Add Not Subtract: I stole this idea from Healthy Tipping Point and then kind of changed it around. I used the idea for some marketing materials for high school students last semester and everyone responded really well to it. The key to this is thinking of something you like, say Doritos for the high schoolers, and then thinking of something similar, but healthier. You like Doritos because they’re crunchy? How about some baby carrots? You like them because they’re cheesy? How about a string cheese? How I am putting it into practice: I eat a lot of sweets. As I said above I’m cutting them out of my diet in January. When I cut those out there are going to be big gapping holes in my life that I will focus on and that make myself miserable. But, if I replace the sweets with something else eventually I won’t even want them. Instead of sweets I can have a piece of fruit or a fruit leather or a smoothie.

3. Find a Workout You Like: Unless we’re working a job where we’re always on our feet most of us need to work out a few times a week. Like many people it took me a long time to find a workout I really loved and wanted to do. For me it’s boxing, but to figure that out I had to try a lot of workouts. I thought CrossFit was torture, running makes my knees weep, and Spin classes are mind numbingly boring. When you find a workout you like (and I promise it’s out there), it won’t feel like work and you will want to go and do it. How I am putting it into practice: I do workouts I like while also challenging myself. Now that I’m in school and can’t afford fancy classes this has changed, but I still focus on what I like (high intensity interval training, the Bosu ball) and then I’m excited to workout.

4. Plan Ahead: I used to think that planning ahead would make my crazy type A personality worse, but then I realized it actually helps to control my insanity. It’s a lot easier to eat junk when you don’t bring your lunch to work or school or to skip a workout when your plan is just “go to the gym and do something.” How I’m putting it into practice: At the end of the week I plan all of my meals for the next week and make a grocery list and do one grocery trip so I have everything on hand. I also put my workouts on my calendar (in detail so “Cycle and Core class” or “Fitnessista tabata workout“) so that they’re scheduled in and I have no excuses.

5. Cook for Yourself: There’s a big argument between whether diet or exercise is more important in losing/maintaining weight. Exercise is important, but based on what I know I think diet is where it all starts. You have to work out A LOT to counteract a bad diet and most of us just aren’t able to work out that much. Also, if you’re eating out or eating prepared foods you have no control over what goes into your food and are probably eating more fat, sodium, and calories than you would if you cooked at home. How I’m putting it into practice: I cook nearly all my meals at home (I probably eat out once or twice a week with friends) and, as I mentioned above, I plan my meals and grocery shop at the beginning of the week. Plus, I’m single and only cooking for one so I tend to make two meals: one that I eat for lunches and one that I eat for dinners. Is it a little monotonous to eat the same thing all week? Sure, but it saves money and time and I try to make things I look forward to. A few cooking tricks: I never add salt until the end of a recipe so I can salt to my taste, not the taste of whoever created the recipe; I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream no matter the recipe; and if something calls to be cooked in X TB oil I just barely coat the pan. Oh and I poach chicken for recipes that call for already cooked chicken (diced, rotisserie, etc.), it’s healthier and the chicken is so moist.

And if you’re looking for some healthy, easy, quick recipe ideas here are some of my favorites:

1. Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches (I poach the chicken for this and mix in blue cheese crumbles, I gave the recipe to a friend and she added shredded carrots which I thought sounded great)
2. Chickpea Sharma Sandwich
3. Roasted Chipotle Chicken Taco Stacks (I made the stacks once and they were good, but messy and not great for leftovers, now I make this chicken (which is mind-blowingly good) and add it to tacos, salads, etc.. Pro tip: Freeze your leftover chipotles in adobo so you can use them another time!)
4. 30 Minute Healthy Cajun Chicken and Rice (I eat this cold for lunch)
5. Creamy Cauliflower Baked Macaroni
6. Homestyle Turkey Chili (one of my all-time favorite recipes)
7. White Chicken Chili
8. Chickpea Pasta Soup (I made this not expecting much and I LOVED it)
9. Easy Vegan Falafel
10. Avocado Chicken Salad
11. Smoky Black Bean Beet Burgers
12. Chickpea, Cauliflower, and Old Bay Veggie Burgers
13. Roasted Jalapeno Cheddar Turkey Burgers (another all-time favorite)

Those are my tips, feel free to share if you have any of your own!

Two Years Ago: Book Review: The Truth About Forever


Book Review: Emmy & Oliver

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Title: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Release Date: 06/23/2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’ve made no secrets of my love of Robin Benway’s books, but this isn’t your typical Robin Benway book. The great characters, the humor, and the wonderful family relationships and friendships were there, but there was also this overlying seriousness to the book that in same ways worked really well, but in other ways held me back from 100% connecting with the story.

Emmy and Oliver knew each other from birth, they lived next door to each other and their parents were good friends. Oliver had just admitted his love for Emmy in a note when he goes away with his dad for the weekend (his parents are newly divorced) and he never comes back. The story starts with Emmy thinking about Oliver, something she’s done a lot over the last ten years, and then all the sudden she finds out that Oliver has been found living in New York City and he’s coming home. Emmy’s parents, who are extremely overprotective, partially due to Oliver’s disappearance, tell Emmy to be both nice to Oliver and to give him space to adjust to back into life in their California suburb. Emmy, who is adorably awkward, tries to keep her distance, but she’s missed her friend and they quickly start to rebuild their friendship and even start to build a romance.

Let’s get the thing about this book that drove me nuts out of the way first. Scattered throughout the story are snapshots of Emmy and Oliver when they were younger. Playing at the park together, going to little league games, going to birthday parties and more. It’s not like I didn’t like these looks back at their lives, but they also felt awkward and very juvenile. Like I thought they were fine, but it’s something I think teens, who want to be seen as adults and not kids, might struggle with.

The place where this book excels is its families. And I feel like it’s silly of me to point that out because it’s a Robin Benway books so of course the families are going to rock, but still. The families in this book are a little different though. She written about complex families before, Maggie’s parents recruiting her to be a spy, Roux’s parents virtually ignoring her, and Jesse’s dad being kind of evil in the Also Known As series, but these parents felt different. Emmy’s parents are incredibly overprotective, to the point where I think teenagers will hate that and wonder why Emmy puts up with it. Then there are Oliver’s parents, his dad who kidnapped him and his mom who’s been a mess ever since. One of the big issues with Oliver’s return is that Oliver doesn’t think his dad is a criminal. Obviously Oliver is upset that his dad took him away from his mom and lied to him for 10 years, but he doesn’t hate him like everyone else around him does.

The friendships in this story also stand out. Emmy and Oliver were also friends with Caro and Drew and Emmy has stayed best friends with him, but when Oliver comes back it’s very much just him and Emmy. Caro and Drew resent this in their own way at first and the way that Benway had Emmy balance all of these relationships and the way that Oliver and Drew and Caro all reacted to each other and interacted with each other was really fascinating.

And then there’s the romance. I have to say that this didn’t quite live up to the epic romance I wanted it to be, but that’s not really a knock on the story because the romance was still pretty great. I love boy next door romances and best friend romances so this one was right up my alley. While it did sometimes feel like the romance came on a little strong and that Oliver needed some space, Benway still did a good job of making Oliver and Emmy friends first and put the kissing and the romance second.

Bottom Line: In the case of Emmy and Oliver Robin Benway stepping out of her comfort zone turned out really well. It’s not a perfect book, but it the relationships (family, friend, and romantic) make the book stand out and give it a lot of heart.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

Two Years Ago: Book Review: Some Girls Are


Top 10 Tuesday: Resolutions I Have for 2016

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I cannot describe how jazzed I am for 2016! Every year I pick a word for the upcoming year. 2014 was mindful, 2015 was balance, and, after much thought, I’ve decided to make 2016 FUN. In my strange, twisted mind 2016 is a year of freedom and no responsibility. Of course with grad school, internships, work, paying the bills, etc. that’s not exactly true, but, for the first time in years at the beginning of the year I know exactly what I am going to spend 2016 doing and I don’t have to worry about where I’ll end up or how I’ll get there. At the beginning of 2012 I was considering starting to take classes for grad school; in 2013 I was planning on quitting my job and moving back home with my parents to work at an undetermined part-time job while taking pre-requites; in 2014 I was expecting to start grad school in the fall; and in 2015 I was hoping I would start grad school in the fall. But for 2016, baring a major disaster, I know exactly where I will be. (Ok, I still don’t know where my summer internship will be (our program director can send us anywhere) and my part-time job might change, but those are minor things.)

And for anyone still making their resolutions I really liked this article.

Much like last year before getting to this year’s goals I want to briefly talk about last year’s.

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Read More out of My Genre: I don’t know if this is exactly true, but I would call my genre “YA” and I read a lot outside of YA, including non-fiction and audiobooks, so I’m racking this one as a win.
Say Yes More: Honestly I said yes so much I felt like a loser with nothing else to do. But that’s ok, because I did lots of things and had lots of fun! Especially in a new city where I knew no one.
Stop Using Stitchfix: I shook off the evil chains of Stitchfix! They never sent me anything like what I requested and I thought their stuff was overpriced crap. Never again.
Keep Working Towards Getting Where I Want to Be: I mean, I’m in grad school so check!
Workout Smarter: Through working full-time, working full-time and taking classes, moving half-way across the country, and starting grad school I have consistently worked out 4-5 times a week. Plus, for the first time in years I had no injuries or even niggling pains here and there.
Eat More Veggies: I’m going to say this is a win even though “more veggies” have been about 95% spinach from smoothies.

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Comment More on Blogs: It’s just hard. But there’s no good reason that it’s hard and it’s something I appreciate so much on my blog that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be doing it for other people.
Get Ahead in Reviews: I barely wrote reviews in 2015 so there was no way to be ahead. But, in my defense, I read a lot at the end of 2015 and have reviews lined up through the beginning of 2016 so I kind of did it towards the end of the year.
Keep Up with Goodreads: This literally could not be easier, but I don’t do it and then I spend hours trying to figure out what I read so I can match it up with Goodreads.
Be a Louder Evangelist: Honestly, this is a combination of two things. One, not blogging much. And two, not really reading anything I absolutely loved.

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1. Make a list of books I want to read each month: I did this for my Christmas/Winter break and it’s worked out really well. I tend to run into issues when I finish a book and don’t know what to read next. While I might not 100% stick to the list it will be nice to have a guide.

2. Comment More on Blogs: As I said above, no excuse, it means a lot to me when people comment and I want to do the same for other people.

3. Get Ahead in Reviews: If I want to keep blogging this is something that needs to be done. I’m off to a great start so hopefully I will keep it going.

4. Keep Up with Goodreads: It’s so easy, it’s opening an app, searching, and clicking a few times.

5. Read smarter: This plays into the list idea, too. When I finish a book and don’t know what to read next I kind of tend to read crap. I don’t know why that’s my default, but it is and reading crap is a waste of my time.

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6. Invite People to do Things: Last year I wanted to say yes more, this year I want to be the one asking other people to say yes. I don’t know if it’s insecurity, but often I wait for other people to invite me to do something or suggest something and I would like to be the one doing the inviting some of the time.

7. Do More Yoga: Being at my parents’ house and practicing yoga regularly makes me realize how much I miss it. I did a month of yoga when I first moved to Minneapolis, but my month-long deal at the studio ran out and I couldn’t afford to keep going. How Sweet Eats mentioned Yoga With Adriene last week and I’m going to start trying to incorporate some online yoga into my life.

8. Live a Life Alined with My Positive Personal Narrative: This is a big and unspecific resolution (the worst kind), but oh well. I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to this great blog post about personal narratives before. I love the idea of a personal narrative because it gives you a kind of guide by how you want to live your life and (hopefully) allows you to positively envision that life. To do this I have to do some work to figure out my personal narrative, but I think it will be worth it.

9. Be Fiscally Responsible: Oh, money. Considering I’m not working full-time and won’t be working full-time for another year and a half I spent way too much money this semester. A lot of that was to move and buy things for my new place, but still, I spent a lot of money on food and other stupid stuff. And, if I want to make it through grad school without a completely crushing amount of debt, I need to spend smarter.

10. Date More: I hate dating, not when you’re going out with someone you know and like, but first dates or first couple of dates. I hate small talk and getting to know someone. I just want to skip all of that. And it’s hard in a city where I know no one. But I do want to be in a relationship and have a partner and all of that good stuff.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Debut Novels for 2015
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Goals/Resolutions for 2014


Book Review: Firsts

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Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Release Date: 01/05/2016
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Easy A is one of my favorite movies. I’ve talked before about how I wish they would make rom-coms and teen movies like they used to and Easy A is a great example of what is missing out there. I bring Easy A up because there are definite similarities to Easy A and Firsts. There’s the girl who has a “good” reputation, but might be doing other things on the side, and a boy who cares about the girl despite her kind of being an ass to him. Yet there are enough differences between Easy A and Firsts to allow Firsts to stand on its own.

My favorite part of Firsts was maybe the first 40-50% of the book. At that point we are just getting to know Mercedes and her mission to help all girls have a comfortable, satisfying time when they lose their virginity. To do this she takes their boyfriends’ virginities and teaches the boyfriends to be kind, caring lovers. While this is certainly unconventional, at first it didn’t seem like just a terrible idea. Mercedes is a strong, smart high school senior who seems to have a good head on her shoulders. But, over the course of the story, we see her screwed up mom and get hints that Mercedes first time wasn’t great and she’s dealing with some lingering issues about how she lost her virginity.

All of that was still good. Besides sleeping with virgins Mercedes is a chemistry whiz who wants to go to MIT and a somewhat crappy friend to Angela, her religious, saving herself for marriage friend who has no idea what Mercedes does for guys. There’s also Zach, a guy that Mercedes is sleeping with who isn’t one of the virgins, but who she still brushes off despite the fact that he wants more from her. One of the highlights of the book for me was how honest Mercedes was about sex. Some of her thoughts and discussions were probably more descriptive than a romance novel, but they were true-to-life and there was no sugar-coating.

As the story goes on Mercedes has second thoughts about what she’s doing with the virgins and promises herself she’s going to stop. But she doesn’t and that was frustrating and sad. Neither necessarily in a bad way, as we all know sometimes it’s hard to stop doing things even when you know they’re not healthy, but it definitely took the story from a more fun Easy A tale, to more of an exploration of a troubled girl. I didn’t mind the darker turn, although I thought it could have been handled a little better. There was too much intrigue for me to really get into why Mercedes was making such terrible decisions. Plus, I really liked the fun part of the book and I wanted to get back to that.

As the story goes on Mercedes life spirals more out of control and she kind of does nothing to stop it. Again, this wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was frustrating. There also gets to be a pretty menacing, threatening person in Mercedes life and that’s just never something that works for me. Plus, it felt silly, like he was a superhero’s villain like Killgrave (sorry, I’m on a Jessica Jones binge) rather than just a screwed up teenager.

Bottom LineFirsts started off with so much promise and then kind of lost me. Mercedes was a strong character who faded away as the story went on. There’s part of me that feels like all the negative things I’ve said are just me projecting what I wanted the book to be on the book, even if that is the case, I still think the story has some problems. But I did genuinely love the way the story dealt with sex and love and I would recommend if for that alone.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Pact
Two Years AgoBook Review: Going Rogue


My Week in Books

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Welcome to My Week in Books!

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(Keep in mind that I’m on a break from school and visiting my parents so I have very little to do besides workout and read.) Full reviews of all this books to come!

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Now and Again by Jennifer Ellision: I enjoyed this a lot even though it’s very surface level. Great for the beach or a plane ride.

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Kissing in America by Margo Robb: Not at all what I thought it would be, but I really enjoyed it. Although it’s pretty different it reminded me a lot of Saving June by Hannah Harrington.

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Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh: A good historical romance, not the best I’ve read, but smart and focused more on the characters than the sex scenes.

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All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: This would have been a great conclusion to the series, but, given the end, it looks like there are more books to come. I’m a little worried about the direction the series seems to be taking, but I still really liked this book.

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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson: The storytelling and writing here is top notch. The end came quickly and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill: The one book I read this week that I didn’t like. I think I’m back to disliking Lauren Morrill.

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The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean: So good! I was looking forward to this book all year and it did not disappoint.

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Act Like It by Lucy Parker: I only heard about this recently and after a rocky start I really enjoyed it. Better than Now and Again, but still great for a plane or the beach.

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Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker: A strong ending for this series. K.A. Tucker’s books always seem a little out there, but they never disappoint.

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Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott: I’m about 15% of the way in and there are just so many names. It’s like being back in AP European History. The voice is good and I’m not sure where the story is going, but I have hope.

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Wicked Heart by Leisa Rayven // Ride Hard by Laura Kaye // Listen to Me by Kristen Proby

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Big Rock by Lauren Blakely // Never Tear Us Apart by Monica Murphy // The Baller by Vi Keeland

I hope everyone had a great year and is killing those resolutions!