Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Books Lately

Happy Show Us Your Books day with Steph & Jana! I've read a lot since the last link up, mainly because of how the dates fell and also because it is pretty much my only hobby. So there's that.

The Lost Man - Jane Harper
middle brother found dead in outback, which leaves few suspects
Technically this wasn't couldn't put it down because it took me over a month to finish it, but I really really enjoyed it and was totally captivated. I admit, I take my Australian books too seriously. I liked The Dry, but didn't love how she used certain American words no Australian would ever use. I understand why Aussie authors do it, but it bugged me enough to not jump at Force of Nature. Obviously I got over myself and picked this one up. Immediately, from the get go, it was more Aussie and I was so there for it. The ending shocked me and I loved that it was so interesting and compelling even without a lot of characters or a lot going on. Much recommend.
Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
orphan girl goes to live on farm
I had heard of Anne of Green Gables but didn't know much about it, never read it or watched any kind of adaption. But Heather is always talking about how much she loves it and considering our tastes are so similar I figured I'd give it a go! I think I expected to like it but didn't really think I'd fall head over heels, but I did because it really was so delightful. Heartbreaking too, it's been a long time since I really cried in a book but this one definitely made me cry (both happy and sad tears). I am working on the rest of the series, then I am going to watch every movie/tv show adaption I can get my hands on. 
Wundersmith - Jessica Townsend
sequel to nevermoor
I mean, no words. Need the next one. This series is just so freaking delightful. Again, I see the similarities to Harry Potter and I would recommend it to HP fans, but it stands on its own. I'd recommend it to kids and adults alike, as long as you are a fan of fantasy. Morrigan is a wonderful character, I adore the world and all the other characters. This author has a way with endings, I tell you what. I need the next one for sure. Also, Aussie Aussie Aussie.
Harry's Trees - Jon Cohen
harry's wife dies, goes to live in the forest, befriends widow & her child
Another one I picked up purely because Heather liked it. This is a weird one in the sense that it really was not 'unputdownable' because it was so intense and emotional that I had to keep putting it down, but I thought it was so wonderful that it belongs up here. I do see people comparing to AJ Fikry and Ove, I've not read Ove but I do see the feelings-comparison to AJ Fikry. Not the story, exactly. This one made me tear up several times. I thought it was beautiful.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill - Abbi Waxman
book lover and introvert nina inherits a family she doesn't want
You know that feeling when you are reading a favourite book for the very first time? That was this book for me, I absolutely loved it from the very first page. It was hilarious. There are so many good one liners that I wanted to highlight. I am definitely going to be re-reading this when it is published. Nina is such a fantastic character. If you liked Eleanor Oliphant or The Rosie Project, I think you'd like this. If you like books about books and book lovers, I think you'd like this. Don't be put off by the romance, any scenes are closed door. Loved it, definitely recommend, wish I could describe it better. Bloody delightful.
Received from First to Read.
Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
coming of age about an abandoned 'marsh girl', murder mystery 
Firstly I have to say, just because something is under 'enjoyable enough' doesn't mean I didn't like it. It was enjoyable, it's right there in the heading. The start of this was super slow, it wasn't until like 45% that I felt like it was going somewhere. I really liked the second half. I did feel like the writing was a bit over the top descriptive sometimes. I get why, the setting was its own character and I saw the connections she wanted us to see with some birds and insects, but it was just a little too much. I also felt like there were some holes in the plot and some things I found unbelievable. But I felt feelings and teared up a time or two. I liked it, didn't  love it. This was book club's book and it wasn't a huge hit. I still think it's worth a read though.
Aurora Rising - Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
ya sci-fi adventure, breakfast club-ish
This is by the same people who wrote Illuminae which I loved but still haven't finished the series (oops). This one took a bit to get into but eventually I couldn't put it down. I thought this was funny, fast paced and interesting. Lots of action, which can sometimes get a wee bit tedious to read (for me) but it kept my attention. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I need the next one now. 
Received from Netgalley.
Queenie - Candice Carty-Williams
queenie is a bit of a hot mess, long time boyfriend broke up with her
This book had me at 'Bridget Jones meets Americanah'.... I haven't read Americanah but Bridget Jones is one of my all time favourites. So I expected a hot mess, but I expected a lighthearted hot mess - which is not what I got. It was really hard to understand and accept the choices Queenie makes, it made it really hard to read at times because you just wanted to shake some sense into her. At about halfway, I started to get a better handle on her and then I just wanted to give her a hug and take care of her. In the end, I liked it a lot, I liked Queenie, but this isn't an easy or light read. Also, this is kind of a spoiler but happens in the first chapter so whatever, it's something I would have liked to know going in: she goes to the doctor and realises she's had a miscarriage.
muslim love story, but also justice, equality, family, health and accepting yourself
I requested this knowing I don't really do YA anymore, so it's my own fault. I just couldn't resist it, the cover, title and synopsis were calling to me. I did like what it was about, it tackles so many things and I think it could resonate with a lot of different readers.. I just think I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger. The things that annoyed me were teenagers-are-annoying things and I feel like I shouldn't judge it based on that. Overall, I thought it was cute and I liked the ending. It's about so much more than the love story, so don't be put off by that. I would recommend it, it just wasn't my favourite. 
Received from Netgalley.
woman returns after mother dies to reopen grandmother's restaurant
This one was a bust for me. The writing was a bit too flowery, there was too much telling and not enough showing, the story was underdeveloped, the magical realism was unexpected and just plain weird. I was also not expecting a romance subplot and it was so unbelievable and cringey. The book had a ton of recipes, which I am okay with but then there would be two pages following where every little action in the recipe was detailed. Too much. It felt like I was reading a script for a cooking show. Also, birds follow her around like she's a disney princess. Such a bummer because isn't that cover gorgeous?
Received from First to Read.
Life and Other Inconveniences - Kristan Higgins
dying grandmother calls estranged granddaughter for help
DNF @ 19%. Perhaps this is the right book but wrong time for me, but I just can't do it. It's so depressing. I'm sure it gets better but I just can't handle it right now. Which sucks because I love Kristan Higgins and I was really excited for this one. I'm proud of myself for DNFing, I used to be so bad at it but this is #5 of the year. Go me.
Received from First to Read.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors -  Sonali Dev
p&p retelling
DNF @ 25%. Womp. I tried, I did. But it was such a slog to get through. I didn't click with the writing and it took way too long to get going so I put it down and didn't pick it back up. DNF #6, look at me go.
Received from Edelweiss.
The Unhoneymooners - Christina Lauren
I liked this one a lot, though I was disappointed in one aspect. I will continue to read their books of course, but if the next one follows the same path this one did, I don't know. Which is super vague I know, I just felt like they removed something from this book that is in their others and it could have been fine but they didn't add anything else in to make up for the lack of development or connection the removing of the thing caused. If you have a peanut butter sandwich and you remove the peanut butter, your sandwich will be sad and boring. You need to add something else to make up for it. K. Loved the trope though.
Received from Netgalley.
The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary
I literally cannot even with this book. This was the cutest thing I have ever read. It's also strangely intense, I love when books do that, sprinkle the intense in with the fluff. The male's POV took too long for me to get into, it's written very differently and it was so jarring. Eventually I got used to it though and  overall absolutely adored it. This book gave me all the feelings. Literally, all of them. Bloody delightful.
Received from Netgalley.
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
This one deals with infertility, which is in the synopsis and I knew going in. Kristen (in the book, not me) is going through a completely different situation than I am and I waited for Heather to read it first - I think both of those things made it a bit easier to read in that regard. There was only one line at the end that made me cry and that is because the character and I have the same name so it was like someone saying it to me. I cried. Anywho. Hella emotional, but not just because of infertility. Can't say more without spoilers. Funny, adorable, loved the characters. Much recommend.
Received ARC.
The Bride Test - Helen Hoang
I can't imagine how hard it is to publish a second book when your first was as insanely popular as The Kiss Quotient. I told myself not to have high expectations and not to compare the two, but it was impossible. This one just didn't have that same pizzazz as The Kiss Quotient for me. I really liked Khai, but struggled with My/Esme. Just didn't 100% relate to or understand her motivations, especially when her feelings changed. Also there was a green card error that bugged me. I thought maybe the laws had changed since I got my green card, but nope, I checked. If I could google it in less than 5 minutes.....
Received from First to Read.
New Orleans Rush - Kelly Siskind
This was freaking adorable. Hardcore loved it. Bea was such a fun character, she reminded me a teeny bit of Hazel from Josh & Hazel. Just a little, in that she's quirky. I've never read about a magician before and I admit I don't often read about artists because I don't often click with that kind of personality, but I loved both characters and all the side characters too. Loved it.
Received from Netgalley.
Waiting for Tom Hanks - Kerry Winfrey
This was a fun, lighthearted read. I'd recommend to rom-com fans, there are a lot of references to a lot of movies and I did enjoy that. I can see how it would be annoying if you weren't super into rom-coms. This is also a closed door romance, but I feel like the love story is the main focus so that's why it is here (whereas Nina Hill has so much more going for it).  There were a few times I rolled my eyes or wanted to shake the main character, but overall it was fun and light, passed the time fine.
Received from First to Read.
A Girl Like Her - Talia Hibbert
I kept seeing this everywhere, it was a kindle freebie there for a bit so I grabbed it but kept putting it off until the NYMRBC podcast did an episode on it. I loved it. I wish I was better with the words, but this book was like, unassuming. It was good and fine and plodding along but when I finished I had a big goofy smile on my face. Every page was a delight. Added all her other books to my TBR.
Before Girl - Kate Canterbary
I totally judged this book on the cover. I had low expectations and didn't expect much. I love when I am wrong. I absolutely adored it. Absolutely, 100000% not meant for everyone, but every single thing about this book worked for me. It was funny, it was adorable, I loved the writing, I wanted to smoosh the characters faces together and put them in my pocket. Loved. It.

The Immortalists for book club and Everything I Never Told You because Celeste Ng is coming to the ville next week. I'm also still working on Children of Blood and Bone.

Linking up with Steph & Jana

Life According to Steph

TL;DR - I recommend The Lost Man, Harry's Trees and Nina Hill. 

Read anything decent lately?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

33 before 33

3 is my favourite number. I will be 33 on my next birthday. What better time to make a list of 33 things I want to do in the next 9 months? Some of them are big, some of them are small. Some of them were going to happen anyway but they wanted to be on the list, otherwise they wouldn't count. Also I started this list a few weeks ago so maybe I've already started working on some.

So, not in priority order, 33 things I want to do before I turn 33:

1. Braces be gone. It'll be exactly 18 months, he said 18-24 months so keep your fingers crossed for me.
2. Go to the eye doctor.
3. Go to the dermatologist. It's been too long since I've had a skin cancer check.
4. Have a more consistent exercise routine.
5. Be 90% vegetarian. I think I am pretty much there, but I calculated how many meaty meals I 'could' have (I can do what I want, but I wanted to know the percentage) to be 90% vegetarian.
6. Work on eating fruit or veg at every meal. Or maybe like, 99% of my meals.
7. Reduce diet coke intake. It's my only vice so no desire to give it up completely, but I'd like to mostly drink water when out (mainly because it ups the cost) and stick to 1 at each meal at home/work.
8. Get back into yoga. I'm basically a beginner all over again.
9. Work on pull ups, deadlifts + running. I have never been able to do a pull up, I want to be able to do deadlifts the way KC does them and I have lost so much of my running fitness it makes me sad. I want to work on all of these things but don't know about magically doing pull ups, deadlifts and running half marathons in 9 months, so working on all of those things is the goal here.

10. Cut down waste at home. Mainly plastic bags, lysol wipes, dryer sheets + paper towels, but I want to look into other things.
11. Stock + organise my hoarder end of the world stash in the basement.
12. Clean + organise the basement, replace things. We are probably a few years away from properly finishing it, but right now it's a bit of a junk yard.
13. Clean + organise the garage.
14. Make some changes to the household/cleaning products I use. Need to look into this more.
15. Turn in between sunroom + garage into gravel patio thing.
16. Do another big declutter of all the things. Clothes, books, random stuff. I am thinking I want to get rid of like, 25% of things, but first I need to count everything to then figure out the percentage.
17. Buy couch + cat furniture for sunroom. Also rip up carpet if we can figure out the rain coming in from the bottom problem.
18. New kitchen table + chairs. I know exactly what I want, it's just a matter of other things taking priority right now. But I want it soon.

19. Stay under my monthly grocery budget at least once.
20. Meet savings goals. We have 2 separate accounts and 2 separate goals.
21. Pay down debt. Not all of it, what with a car and mortgage, but I have a plan so I just need to stick to it.
22. Do a true no spend month. Nothing but groceries and bills.

23. Streamline skincare routine. I need to cull some products and decide on favourites.
24. Move to all cruelty free skincare + makeup products. I think I might be about 75% right now.
25. Take all 3 cats to the vet. Not all at once, I'm not crazy.
26. Go through a car wash. Like, in the movies. Never been in one!
27. Do 5 new to me out of my comfort zone scary things. The car wash doesn't count.
28. Go on a little weekend trip with KC. Driving, no flying.
29. Cook dried beans. We eat a lot of beans, I've never cooked them, always used cans. I know, I know.
30. Make my own pasta sauce. Yes, I know. I can't believe I've never really done it either.

31. Listen to all the audiobooks I currently own (24)
32. Read all the BOTM books I currently own (7)
33. Make a dent in books I already own. I'm not putting a number on this, but at the time of writing, (this includes audio, physical, ebooks, free or gifted books), I own 650 books.

33 and a half - Get pregnant, hopefully. I don't want this actually be a goal because I don't want the stress or pressure and I still have a lot of feelings from Constance. But I do hope I am pregnant before then. Though if I am, that will change a few of these goals. So. Whatever, I'm flexible.

Phew. Okay. That's a lot. Some of them kind of contradict each other, especially the buying things vs saving/paying off things, so I'll just have to be smart. Some of them are out of my control, but most are things I can actively work towards. None of these are silly or things I feel like I 'should' do, but things I actually want to be a part of me or my life. I won't be upset if I don't accomplish everything, but I will be upset if I don't even try.

Now to think of the 5 out of my comfort zone things. Definitely want to volunteer, donate blood (need to up my iron) and maybe get a massage... any suggestions for other things?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

April 2019 Recap - What's New With You Link Up

Hello all, time for another what's new with you link up! Thanks again if you join me, I always appreciate it. You don't have to display the button if you don't want to, but don't forget to mention it somewhere in your post and check out some of the other posts! I'll be doing a monthly recap like I do every month.

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April started off with a cruise, which I've already mentioned. We went with Royal Caribbean again, this time the ship was the Independence of the Seas. We went to Puerto Costa Maya and Cozumel. Like I mentioned earlier, I was still a bit sick and it was too cold for me to spend a lot of time in the water. We liked the ports we stopped in, but had a better time at the ports last time. We still had a good time, still like cruising and Royal Caribbean, but next time, if there is a next time, we'll go in summer and try different ports. This cruise was totally dependent on what was available during KC's spring break, which is how we ended up with both of us having coworkers on the same cruise.

Photo dump:

Then when we got back, we did a bunch of yard work which I've also already mentioned. I am really happy with how it looks and can't wait for everything to grow and hopefully survive.

First, here's a reminder of the front of the house when we bought it:

Here's a photo of the left side after I got rid of everything back in August (I think?) and then here's a photo of the right side, which we started getting rid of in November but then had the accident and didn't touch it again until just now. We've completely re-done the garden beds or whatever they are called, replaced the shutters and gotten rid of that railing as it was falling apart anyway.

And here's everything done - we also got a new hose holder thingy but no photos of that. We did get a new bird feeder, though Millie loves the one that goes on the window, it kept falling off. We also never got any birds, squirrels would eat it all. Which is fine since we got it for cat entertainment and they love squirrels. But we actually get a lot of birds with the new one and watching squirrels try to shimmy up the pole is the funniest thing I've ever seen.

Next in landscaping, maybe a paver walkway. We'll see.

We also started on the sunroom - cleared out all the crap that we'd let accumulate in there, ripped down the vertical blinds, tried to clean the carpet but it's so old and gross. Ok, not gross, just looks gross. Never mind, it's probably actually gross. I'm thinking about ripping the carpet up, maybe staining the concrete if it needs it and getting rugs. I think I would like that better than gross looking carpet. The cats love the sunroom and I love it when it starts getting warmer. Don't have great after pictures because we're still working on it, so lets call these 'during' pictures.

Book Club was pasta bar and Where the Crawdads Sing. I ran a few times with my bestie but only got one photo, so do the other times even count? In new things, I tried this fajitas recipe (portobello mushrooms for me) and this spanish rice recipe from budget bytes. I also watched Someone Great on netflix - anyone else?

Also, cats. I don't know if you can even see in the first picture, Penny sitting on top of Chelsea in that box. Chelsea lasted .2 seconds, but it was enough for me to get a picture. Also Millie loves to sit on my side table, but if I turn around and look at her or even think about touching her, she'll run away/bite me. I swear she loves me.

Also, books. Because hello, my name is Kristen. How is that 'read less' goal for 2019 going you ask? Splendidly, clearly. Actually, at the rate I am going, I might read one or two less than 2018, so.... progress?

If you'd like to link up, please do so below.

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So, what's new with you? Also, help me make a decision with the sunroom. Rip up the carpet?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

2019 May Goals

But first, April goals. I wanted to:

 - do our taxes - this was an easy goal because of the whole deadline. I left it as late as possible though. I'm still angry about it. 
- no extra spending - I would say mostly yes, but not as good as I wanted to be. 
✓ - yard work - Yes, I've already shared photos, we planted more stuff, did the whole mulch thing, etc etc.
✓ - one BOTM book - yes, I read Queenie, go me.
✓ - one audiobook - I am calling this a win because I finally finished The Lost Man, though I started it in March. I also listened to part of Where the Crawdads Sing and Anne of Green Gables, though I read the majority of both via ebook but those 3 mish mashed together make 1 audiobook I am sure.
✓ - exercise 5 times - I did! Mostly because my bestie asked me to run with her and that was much easier and more enjoyable than going to the gym. I got, like, 1 photo, but I did it!
✓ - get rid of all the stuff + clean the sunroom - yes! we actually ripped down all the vertical blinds (we couldn't open or close them without them breaking), did a big clean and I finally got rid of all the stuff I wanted to donate.... okay, it's in the boot of my car but I will eventually drop it off, I swear.

Now, on to May goals:

- two BOTM books
- two audiobooks
- go to the gym 5 times 
- get rid of the stuff in my boot - otherwise it will sit there for months and months
- put my clothes away, get rid of 2 bags of stuff - my clothes are still sitting on the spare bed oops
- no solo eating out, no extra spending, try very very hard to stay within grocery budget
- finish the sunroom - curtain rods, curtains, rug.. maybe a new cat tower. Couch and TV stand/TV are not happening any time soon.
- delete unused/unnecessary apps off phone - I realise this is a silly goal but I've been meaning to do it for months so perhaps putting it here will give me the kick I need
- do weekly shopping at aldi once - just to see, just to make sure, it's been a year or so since I've tried to do a full shop there.
- list 12 things online - that's 3 things per week. Easy peasy.

10 goals might be pushing it but I'm gonna give it a go anyway.

Just a reminder if you want to link up, tomorrow is the what's new with you link up.

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In other news, it's Derby week here in KY - which just means I am hopefully off on Friday and basically everything will be closed or deserted on Saturday. How many books can I read....