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Tuesday, May 2, 2017


It was a rough couple of months, guys. I only read five books ;). When I told T Money this, he looked at me, glared, and looked away. I think he is finally accepting that I am a book nerd. In all seriousness though, I have found that posting every two months my book reads might be a better fit for me. That's not saying that I won't post monthly, but often times it takes me some time to finish books (especially during the crazy months during the school year). There was an interesting range of books this month: from serial killers to young adult to some sex tips...gasp!! It was a pretty good two months of reading. 

Genre: Nonfiction 
Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. 

My thoughts:  This was our March Book Club novel. This is my first book that I've personally read from Larson, but I have heard great things about him so I was excited to dive into this book. However, with that being said, this wasn't exactly the type of novel that you "dive into." This book took me two and a half months to read (which is a LONG time for me. I have this problem that once I start a book, I need to finish it! Haha). It did not take me so long to read because I hated it, but rather, I felt like there was so much detail in it that I was being overcome with it. After reading two chapters, I felt like I had read for an hour. Part I and II were slooooow. Luckily, Part III got pretty intense and held my attention significantly more. I will admit that the architectural descriptions were difficult for me to read and get through. I loved the part about Holmes. I find reading about serial killers is super fascinating (Maybe I'm weird?). I was enthralled the entire time in the parts about him. Overall, I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars (I wish I could give half stars. I'd give it a 3.5 if I could) because there were too many parts that I felt like I needed to skip over (and was a little bored). However, I will say, this was very well written. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “I was born with the devil in me,' [Holmes] wrote. 'I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.” 

Big Little Lies // Liane Moriarty 

Genre: Fiction  
Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

My thoughts:  Oh man....Where do I even start with this novel? Well, I watched the show on HBO right after I finished the novel for our April Book Club. I did not love the show as much as the book. I would recommend the show as a completely separate entity. But, the book. Whew! I absolutely loved it. Liane Moriarty's books are like crack. I couldn't stop reading. Almost 500 pages in 3 days! This has been one of the best books I've read this year. It really had me thinking about domestic abuse in our society and the stigma that surrounds it. I really liked how the author used humor  with some heavy, really issues.  The characters are hilarious, intense, scary and interesting. I loved the "hoity-toity" world that these women grew up in. It seemed a little too realistic. Yikes. I guessed some of the plot, but definitely not the end. With that being said, I' not sure if I loved who the author chose as the culprit. It seemed a little bit out of left field and random. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.” 

Rules // Cynthia Lord 

Genre: Realistic Fiction // Young Adult  
Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules-from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

My thoughts: If you read this blog at all, then you would know that I teach sixth grade. Because of this, I try to read a young adult novel often. I chose this one because I know many of my students read it for their Battle of the Books. I read this novel aloud with my cute 11 year old sister in law. I loved the storyline behind the story. I thought it was very well written for a young adult and one I would recommend to my students. The main character is relatable and so is the story line. I really enjoyed that the author truly understood what it's like to live withs someone with autism. Great YA novel. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “...choosing words is harder than I thought.” 

Scrappy Little Nobody // Anna Kendrick 

Genre: Nonfiction/Biography 
Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

My thoughts:  Anna Kendrick is hilarious and relatable. I loved her rant and trash talk the entire time--it was HILARIOUS. She is someone I feel like I would be friends with. She is comfortable in her own skin and her novel portrays it. I did feel like the novel was a little scattered, but I think most of these memoir-type biographies are (as I am noticing). I love the look into her life as a kid to how she became famous. It was fascinating to see the hard work and work ethic she portrayed to get where she is at today. I was unexpectedly pleasantly surprised from this book. 

Favorite Quote from the book: I gave up on being Nice. I started putting more value on other qualities instead: passion, bravery, intelligence, practicality, humor, patience, fairness, sensitivity." 

Come As You Are // Emily Nagoski 

Genre: Nonfiction 
Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.

My thoughts:  Don't be scared by the cover, ladies and gents. This is our May book club read, but I dove into it a little bit early. I am so glad that I did because I loved it. I got a little annoyed that the author kept saying "Read about this in the next chapter..." I wanted the information NOW. I loved the realistic tone that this was written in. Sometimes I get a little bit weary about "sex" books, but I found this one quite insightful. I liked that it talked more about the psychology of sex, especially in women. I found it fascinating all of the statistics and science and psychology behind it all. I am a little bit of a feminist, so I fell in love with the idea of having pride as a woman an owning our sexuality, no matter what it is. This is actually a book I would recommend to every women. Seriously. I loved it. Very helpful and an easy read. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “Emotions are tunnels. You have to go all the way through the darkness to get to the light at the end.” 

I am currently on a Liane Moriarty kick and reading "Truly Madly Guilty" and "What Alice Forgot." Of course, I will keep you posted on them. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spring Break 2017: Joshua Tree National Park

I spy rock-climbers! 

Yesterday, I posted about Palm Springs and St. George (Post HERE). On our way home I got my in laws to stop at Joshua Tree National Park. I love National Parks and I want to see as many as I can!!! I am going to let the pictures do the talking. I saved these pictures for their own post because I absolutely fell in love with the views of this park. Also, the lighting was so good! Yes! 

Such a cool view! 

(Joshua) tree hugger. See what I did there? More on instagram. 



Have you ever been to Joshua Tree National Park? 
What is your favorite National Park? 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Break 2017

I looked at the clock today and it was only 10:00 am.
I thought it was lunchtime.
I sighed and looked at my students and said, "Okay, guys, we got this!!!" They all just stared at me. 
Coming back to school after a fun few days in the sunshine is quite difficult. I was spoiled with some serious leisure time and a good break! My Spring Break was so much fun. I tagged along with my in-laws on this fun road trip. Before I left, I had someone say to me, "Wait. You are going on a vacation with your in laws...and their entire extended family..without Tanner?!" I know. I know! Good thing I have known them for seven years now and they didn't kick me out when I snored ;).
In all seriousness though, it was a great time and I was so grateful to go on vacation with great people! 

We hit the road and stopped at Cove Fort on our road trip. Cove Fort was built in 1867 by the Pioneers in Utah. It was a safe stop for travelers to stop and rest. I had never been here before, but it was interesting to learn new information about the Mormon Pioneers. Both of my parents are converts to the LDS church, so I don't have any of those pioneer ancestors. Maybe that's why I don't think I would have been a very good pioneer ;) haha. I kept thinking, "Uh, I would have died." I'm a wimp. It happens. Good thing I'm a millennial, eh? 

We got in the car and made our way down to St. George. I love the red rocks in St. George so much. We spent the evening exploring and hiking around in the beautiful sunshine. I think I want to live down there full time. Ha.  

I said, "Guys! Get in a picture here. This is so pretty right here!" And the all ignored me. I look up and this is what I see. Mark thinks he's so funny. 
Yea, no way I am fitting in that crevice! Claustrophobia, much? 

Of course we had to swing by the St. George temple. I love this temple so much. And I, like my many other lists, want to see as many temples in the world as possible! (Except I've been to this one a million times! Ha). 

The next day, after what seemed like a very long drive (I'm not used to sitting in the back seat for trips!), we made it to Palm Springs. We stayed at a gorgeous resort there. Of course, while there, I ran into an old student and her family. This is the life of a teacher. Ha. (I also ran into past, present, and future students' and their families in Joshua Tree and St. George. One in every location!).

While in Palm Springs I read three books (in four days total--counting the long drive. I had a lot of time, guys!), played tennis (and it made me want to play more!!), swam, sun-tanned, played cards, went for walks, watched some tv, and swim in the sunshine more!

And our tennis photo shoot starts....NOW! 

Dorks. Ha. 

Last and definitely not least, we stopped by Joshua Tree National Park on our way home. That post will be tomorrow!!!! Come back for more tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Italy // Cinque Terre

Italy Posts:

This is the last stop in Ital! I am done with my Italy posts, and I saved the best for the last. You're welcome! (or I'm sorry?). Um, where do I even begin? Our last day in Tuscany was spent exploring Cinque Terre.  If you do not know, Cinque Terre are five old towns that are located not he West coast of Italy. Holy.Crap.You.Guys. I wish I could explain to you how incredible this place was. You know those times when you see a place that literally looks like it was off of Pinterest? Well, this place was definitely one. We spent the day walking up and down the adorable towns (yea, I could not feel my knee afterwards from going up and down so much) and hiking in between them. You can see the different towns throughout the following photos. It was January so it was kind of cold (not warm enough to swim and hang out), but I can't even imagine just hanging out at the beach and exploring these absolutely beautiful towns. This is definitely one place that you have to see. I will let the pictures do the talking. Unreal! 

As always, more photos are on Instagram and Pinterest. 

La Spezia, on the way to Cinque Terre. This was a gorgeous site as well!

That water!! 

I fell in love with the old homes and their little farms and mini vineyards on the hills. 

I know this looks fake. It's not. I still can't believe this view, you guys. 

Okay, I think I need to back.