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January Book Reviews


A Game of ThronesA Clash of KingsA Storm of Swords By George R.R. Martin

5/5 Stars (all)

This is another series to add to my “favorite series” shelf (along with Harry Potter and Hunger Games). It’s epic. EPIC. It has everything a good (and very, very long) story should have; betrayal, heroes, good vs bad, lessons to be had, sex, triumph and defeat. It would take me days to truly explain all of the characters, from my favorites: Tyrion (known often and to his dismay as the Imp), Jon Snow (the bastard), Dany (the Dragon Queen and Arya (who is basically me as a little girl!) to my least favorites: Cersei (power hungry and selfish), Lord Tywin (Jerk) and my least favorite of all Joffery! And the one who always grows on you later in the series: Jamie (give him time!). They are all playing their part in the game of thrones, quite literally. I warn you though, try not to get too attached to anyone. If you want to get sucked in to another world, into characters you will love and hate and love to hate, it’s a great series to get swept up in. There is an accompanying series on HBO. Some people say you should read and then watch, or watch and then read. I always read and then watch and so far it’s been a good thing for Josh, as he has watched (but not read) along with me. I have had to explain a lot to him to help me understand the show because so much is left out and there are so many characters! I’m excited to read the next to and I’m hoping Martin comes out with the next book sooner than later.

TPWFThe Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout

3.5/5 Stars

After going heavy into GOT I had to find some easy reads, so I turned to the YA (young adult) section. This book definitely had a feel like most YA novels do, it felt typically…immature but still interesting. And for the most part it did follow the pattern of most YA novels I’ve read from the past 5 years. The characters, Mallory and Rider are pretty lovable though. They grew up together in a horrible foster home and find each other years later, as Mallory starts her senior year of high school at a new school. She has since been adopted while Rider is in a new (and much better) foster family. It speaks of the bond you make when going through the most troubling of times and how time doesn’t always change everything (or anything) and that distance does make the heart go fonder. Growing up, Rider had always been Mallory’s protector, her savior. But as time has changed and made her stronger, it hasn’t completely changed Rider. He has yet to see his true worth and how he is capable of a great future. It shows that sometimes we need someone else to help us find our own true self, to pick us up and carry us through the muck of life.

A couple quotes that rung true for me:

“Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it didn’t really exist”

“Forever wasn’t real.”

Don’t count on forever, it’s not anyone’s reality. Count on today, right now. Don’t wait, to let time slip by.


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

3.99/4 stars

I waiver back and forth about how I feel about this book. It too is a YA novel but it certainly never felt like one. It had some mature content (but not too mature for a teenager) but it was really the syntax and overall feel to the novel that made it feel more like an adult fiction book. It’s set back in WWII as refugees are rushing to escape the war, both the Germans and the Russians, neither side very kind or generous and it’s based around true events (although not based on a true story itself).  A ship called  The Wilhelm Gustloff, existed and sunk and basically no one has ever heard about it despite it being a larger time maritime disaster (approximately 9,400 people died) than the Titanic (approx 1500 deaths). The story follows several characters (each chapter is from a different characters perspective) as they rush to the harbor in hopes of boarding a ship to take them away from the war and destruction. If you’re looking for a book of rainbows and sunshine, this isn’t it.

January total: 5

Indianapolis Date Night Ideas

For Christmas (2015), I gave Josh 12 envelopes, containing an idea for 1 date a month. We did not make it out on every every date, some months we were simply too busy and other months we had something else come up and we subbed in the new option. I thought I would share the ideas I came up with in case you’re looking for some new adventures/ideas.


Dave and Busters

If you’re looking for a fun (competitive) night, Dave and Buster’s won’t disappoint. I felt like a kid again (and we were kinda sore the next day). It’s a big arcade/restaurant/bar (all ages welcome except at the bar). They have a pretty large variety of games to choose from (basketball, air hockey, old school bowling, shooting, driving, etc). It was fun to be just let loose and be a kid again. The food was pretty good too, we ate off the appetizer menu because we weren’t starving and we had a couple of adult beverages. I would go back, but I wouldn’t make it an every month kind of thing.

Dave & BusterÕs will open a new 45,000 square foot flagship location on Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 9450 North Central Expressway in Dallas. Shot on Thursday, November 29, 2012. (David Woo/The Dallas Morning News)



I realize everyone goes to Starbucks all the time. I love to go to coffee shops and just relax (without a Henry or Peyton needing me to do something). The plan for this date was to take some games (quieter ones, played one on one) and relax with some drinks. Josh and I play games together a lot (obviously, Dave and Busters was a good choice for us). If you need some game ideas for 2 players check out: Qwirkle, Rummikub and Pandemic.

Explore the Downtown Monuments

I’ve lived in Indy for 10 years now and the only monument I’ve ever been in/explored is the Soldiers and Sailors on the circle. It’s embarrassing! There are so many to look at and in my opinion kind of a shame not to go check them out.  Indy has more acreage for monutments than any other city in the U.S. (aside from Washington D.C. ).  Be sure to check out: Indiana World War Memorial, University Park, American Legion Mall and the Vietnam and Korean Memorials. There are more, to see a full list go here. If you need ideas for places to eat, I would suggest Bru Burger (delicious burgers!) or The Eagle (delicious fried chicken and southern style cooking) on Mass Ave.



Duckpin Bowling in Fountain Square

Fountain Square is a cool area that seems to keep getting better. They offer Duckpin Bowling at The Fountain Square Theater Building, which is basically miniature bowling.  There are also a couple good restaurants to check out. We love Siam Square (Thai) and there is a yummy diner called Peppy’s Grill.



Pop up Art Class

The Indianapolis Art Center offers pop up art classes all of the time. There are different classes (paper weight making, wood working, painting, pottery, etc). You can sign up and show up and you’re in! If it’s warm out, take a walk around outside of the center. There are a lot of great art installations to check out. It’s pretty peaceful too. The center is right near Broad Ripple, lots of great food options! I suggest Thai Cafe or Bazbeaux’s Pizza. Check out BRICS if you need some yummy ice cream for dessert!


Carb Day

Carb Day is the Friday before the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . It’s a fun day filled with practices for the big race and smaller races with other drivers. You can also catch a band or two (and  a lot of drunk people)  if you stick around. It’s a fun day that should be experienced at least once.



Kayak on the White River

We used to take a yearly trip over to Turkey Run State Park to kayak, if you ever get a chance to you should. It’s absolutely beautiful there, you get to go under multiple covered bridges and the trees along the river are stunning. We found a place called White River Canoe Co., where we can kayak closer to home (and there is at least one covered bridge!) We didn’t get to go on this date, but our plan was to go on an hour or two trip and then to hit up an ice cream parlor/diner in Noblesville called Alexander’s on the Square.



Explore Downtown Indy’s Cultural Trail

Indy’s Cultural Trail is an 8 mile trail for bikes or pedestrians that goes through downtown Indy. Along the trail you’ll get a good glimpse of all Indy has to offer, from local shops and restaurants, to art installations pieces to the great landscapes around downtown. It’s a great way to get outside and explore parts of Indy you may not normally see.




Comedy Sportz

If you like a good clean laugh, Comedy Sportz is a great place to check out. What makes it even better is it’s improv! So you never know quite what you’ll get. We didn’t make this date but I have been once in the past and I was pleasantly surprised how funny it was! Be careful, you may become part of the show! They have a small menus (burgers, hotdogs, etc) if you need a bite to eat. They offer improv classes too if you’re brave enough to jump in!





My husband and I love to be outside! And we love to eat. A simple, cheap date: picnic, walking or hiking. The downtown canal is a great place to walk around. There are a lot of new art pieces to check out and if you want you can take a gondola ride or paddle boat up and down the canal. If you do the gondola ride, be prepared for your driver to serenade you! The canal is also a great place to picnic. If you’re looking for a good hike, you can can check out the trails at Fort Ben,  just to the East of downtown or Eagle Creek to the west of downtown.



Christmas Carol at the IRT

Every year, when the holiday season hits you can catch a live version of The Christmas Carol at the Indianapolis Repertory Theater. We also didn’t make this date but I have it on good authority that it’s a great show and it really puts you in the Christmas spirit. The IRT offer shows throughout the year. The theater is visually stunning, a great old building in downtown Indy.  If you want to get a great dinner before or after I suggest you check out St. Elmo’s Steakhouse.



Colts/Pacers/Indians/Indy Eleven Game

You would be remiss to not go on a date to a sporting event, Indy has so many to offer (some I am not even mentioning!). I can attest to how much fun Colts, Pacers and Indian’s games are. Truly a great time. Often times you can find cheap tickets if you know where to look. Each stadium offers a great experience. In the summertime, the Indians offer special nights throughout the week, sometimes there are specials on food or you can meet the players. A newer team to Indy is our soccer team, Indy Eleven. We haven’t been but I’ve heard good things about the experience.



This isn’t even half of what Indy has to offer, but if you’re looking for a fun night, you don’t have to look far.







Farewell 2016!


It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already over, it was a great year, with some bad sprinkled in, as most years are. I see a lot of people flipping of 2016, but I’m choosing to pull all the good out and saying thank you for the blessings. I remember writing the farewell 2015 post like it was yesterday. I always do a recap and then make resolutions. I know some people don’t think resolutions work, but for me, I think they do, at least for awhile.

2016 Recap:

  • Peyton turned 1! Henry turned 4!
  • Henry played in his first season of T-Ball, he did great and loved it.
  • We lost our sweet pup Bella
  • Henry participated in VBS for the first time, he had so much fun!
  • We visited Michigan again. This year we explored Ft Wayne Zoo, Albion, Sleepy Bear Dune National Lakeshore, Muskegon and Grand Haven. We loved it. Beautiful areas!
  • We visited Turkey Run State Park and stayed in the Inn.
  • We went camping in Brown County, Peyton’s first camping experience.
  • Josh and I celebrated 5 years of marriage!
  • We met Vice President Elect Mike Pence! (This is not a Donald Trump endorsement).
  • I helped deliver my goddaughter Ahkianna in a car!
  • We conceived our 3rd child!



Here were my goals for 2016:


  • Daily prayer (I definitely prayed a lot more this year! Still not as much as I should be praying, but I’m happy there was prgoress)
  • Set aside anger, lead with love (I feel like there was a lot I was able to let go of. I also decided that I don’t always have to respond/react. This helps with leading with love, instead of reacting with emotion).
  • Read 75 books (I only read 59 books this year, so I didn’t meet my goal. But I am still happy with that progress. That’s a book a week! I feel off the book wagon toward the end of the year, due to exhaustion/being sick).
  • Become organized/less clutter (Still a work in progress. I ended this year with cleaning and organzing  my laundry room and desk. Hoping for  more peaceful and less cluttered home in 2017.)
  • Healthy body, healthy mind (Before the 1st trimester struck, I had been running and/or working out in some other form almost daily. I was finally able to run without feeling like I was dying. That all changed when I hit about the 5th week and was basically couch ridden from week 5 to 9. I need to get back in the habit, I feel like Jabba the Hut).



Here are some goals for 2017:

  • Schedule my days better, in order to be more effective in house work and playtime
  • Organized home (everything has it’s place and at least occasionally finds its home 😉 )
  •  Memorize more prayers/scripture
  • Workout to some degree daily
  • Blog more
  • Learn a solid photo editing program
  • Take photography more seriously
  • Read 60 books
  • Deliver a happy, healthy baby, quickly and safely (PLEASE LORD!)
  • Cuss less, love more


June-December Book Reviews

I’m behind (6 months behind! Life got so busy (in a great way!).  We’ve been out doing all kinda of fun things, vacation, etc. So these reviews will probably be lacking.


breathWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about this book except for the way it made me feel: Get busy living. Kalanithi died while writing book. It’s one of those books you should read because it’s important to hear someone else’s story. Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, was diagnosed with lung disease just as he was coming off of 10 years of studying. One day he and his wife had a plan and the next day it was forever changed, but his life wasn’t over. He pushed himself to work, to live. He and his wife still decided to have a child, even knowing he probably wouldn’t live very long. This book is a good reminder that all of the little things matter, but that you must do them with great enthusiasm, because life really is short, it’s entirely unpredictable. Find your passions and pursue them, even if it’s just picking up a book and reading all day. Love one another fully, forgive and move on.

everythingEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

2.5/5 stars

If you don’t like depressing books, then don’t read this. This book was hard to stomach because it was so heartbreaking. It follows a Chinese-American family in the 70s, the favorite daughter is found in the local lake, drowned. No one knows what happened or why, but her family completely breaks. Her siblings who were already ignored before, are left even more alone while her parents are reeling from her loss and their own dysfunctions. These books always make me pause and ask myself what kind of parent I am and will be as my kids age. Will I continue to really see them? Hear them? I didn’t love this book, it wasn’t super exciting, nothing really happens. It’s more of a thoughtful book. However, the one thing I did appreciate about this book was the insight on what it means to be Chinese/part Chinese. I’ve never really thought much on this subject, but in the 70s (and I’m sure today) many misconceptions were placed on them and a lot of very racists things were said or enacted toward them. It is a subject I would like to read more on so that I understand the struggles they’ve encountered.

afteryouAfter You by Jojo Moyes

4.5/5 stars

The sequel to Me Before You, continues to follow Lou in the aftermath of Will’s death. Lou is out on her own, new job, new place and new faces. She suffers a severe accident which again changes her path of life. The question that was asked in the first book continues in this one: How can you live life to the fullest? Why are you wasting energy on things that don’t really matter? Good book, not as epic as the first. But still makes you want to change the way you choose to live.

goodgirlThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica

4/5 stars

(I’m writing this in December, I have no idea what this book was about). After rereading the synopsis, I remember how riveting this book was, it was so hard to put down, you just wanted to get ot the end so you understood what was happening and why. I remember my heart breaking at the end of this book, which is a great sign of a great book. It’s hard to go too much into it without giving anything away. It’s a thriller, a woman is kidnapped, held captive, you go into the captors mind, as well as the lead detective. You switch back and forth and get a good picture of what has taken place. Keep reading, there is always more to find out.


The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simison

5 and 3.5/5 stars

The first book in the Rosie series was definitely better than the second. I felt a lot of angst toward Rosie in the 2nd book, I almost felt like the author kind of just didn’t have a lot more to add to the story so he strung the story along too long. The main character, Don, is Autistic (Asperger), it’s not overtly stated, but it’s clear from other comments throughout the series. He’s got a good personality and is brilliant, he is easily likable, which is probably what makes Rosie easily unlikable when she is impatient with him. It honestly felt like she totally gave up in the 2nd book. I wanted to smack her and ask her, “Um, hello! You know who you married!”

Well, I honestly feel like I don’t have the time/patience to complete the rest of the reviews. That’s what I get for procrastinating for 6 months! But here are the rest of the books I read this year. 58 total (most likely 59 by the end of the year. My goal this year was 75 books. Happy with the progress.

booksHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by John TiffanyThe Last Anniversary by Liane MoriartyA Murder in Time by Julie McElwainTruly Madly Guilty by Liane MoriartyIn His Spirit by Richard J. Hauser S.J.The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth WareThis Is Where It Ends by Marieke NijkampBehind Closed Doors by B.A. ParisBefore the Fall by Noah HawleyThe Widow by Fiona BartonDivine Mercy for Moms by Michele FaehnleThe Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix SweeneyAll the Missing Girls by Megan MirandaTakedown Twenty by Janet EvanovichThree Wishes by Liane Moriarty

TOP 3 for 2016

Red Queen by Victoria AveyardMe Before You by Jojo MoyesReady Player One by Ernest Cline

BOTTOM 3 for 2016

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke NijkampThe Dinner by Herman KochFriendship by Emily Gould

Kayleigh Nichole



Today you turn 27 (just like last year AND next year!), HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I remember the day we decided to be best friends. We were both upset that our current best friends were seriously lacking in their best friend duties, we just wanted someone who was our person, who put us first, who had our back no matter what. And we decided to be that for one another. Did I know that that friendship would still be around (and so much stronger) 15 years later? Probably not, but I knew at the time, that I wanted to make a serious commitment (best friends forever was serious business in 8th grade!) to someone (ha ha!). With that decision you opened a lot of doors to me. You and your mom and dad (and Shadow and Abby) opened your arms and home to me. Your house always felt warm, like home. I was always comfortable and loved (and fed!). You brought me to church, you helped me to Christ. For that, I am forever thankful. I miss the mornings your mom and I would go to church together, before anyone else and set up the doughnut and coffee table. Church was so quiet those mornings and I felt so at peace. You and your family helped me understand what I wanted in life.


We experienced so many firsts together. We went to prom for the first time (and 2nd and 3rd) time. We drank together for the first time, Mike’s Hard Lemonade upstairs in your bedroom (Sorry Mama Cita, sorry Bob, but we were smart about it, safe and sound!). We experienced our first loves and heart breaks. We graduated high school and went off to college. And somehow we didn’t experience our first real fight or disagreement until well into adulthood. Our friendship was always easy, always light.

You understand friendship better than anyone I’ve met. You know that another person can’t possibly be without fault. And you love me despite my own faults. We have had years when we weren’t as close, because our lives were on separate paths, one’s we had to discover on our own. We’ve made separate friends, separate memories and even had secrets we didn’t share with one another. Yet, we walk into the same room and it’s like we never separated. No one has ever come close to replacing you.


Over the past couple of years we have become as close as we were in middle and high school. You had Kaidenn (my first Godson), you stood next to me as I married my other best friend and next to me when I had Henry (your Godson) and you have loved both of my children (Peyton too!) as I have loved yours. And now we stand at the edge of your next great adventure, your first daughter (my first Goddaughter) our sweet Ahkianna will be here soon.


I would venture to say that the past year or two have been some of the most difficult in your life, you have endured heartbreaking things, yet your spirit has never faltered. You have never stopped being the innately good and positive person that you have always been. You’ve never stopped loving others, giving to others and being the sunshine in so many other people’s lives. You are truly remarkable and I know that you are often blind in seeing yourself as the world sees you and Kayleigh, the world needs more people like you.


I know you are afraid of what is to come with labor, delivery and becoming  a mama to a new baby again. But there is no doubt in my mind that you will conquer your fears and you will achieve exactly what you want to. I can’t wait to stand by your side and watch you do it. And whenever you don’t feel strong enough, I will show you how strong you are.


You anchor me, you ground me, you remind me that I am worth loving, that I am a good person, friend, mother and wife. Thank you for choosing to love me even when I am unlovable.


I can’t wait to watch your future unfold, I have a feeling you have a whole lot of happiness and joy coming, a lot, just a month away. 15 years down, 85 more to go. I love you, Wifey.



PS: I wanted to take more photos for this entry (and include some older ones), but also wanted to get this posted for your birthday. So me and you, future photoshoot.

Find out more information about The Anchor Project.

The Anchor Project

I have talked for sometime about doing some kind of photo/blog project. Earlier this year, a friend died unexpectedly, in the aftermath of his death, social media lit up with laments, photos, eulogizing him. People had so much love and so much to say about him. I know, at least for myself, I was left with regrets…did he know all of this? Did he know he was so important to so many people? Did he know how cherished his life was? This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen reactions like this on social media, it’s become the norm, as it should. We should always do what we feel in our hearts to remember those we’ve lost.

But what about RIGHT NOW? You know, like we often hear, “Before it’s too late.”

I’m naming this project “The Anchor Project,” after the person who in large part also inspired this, one of my anchors, my best friend, Kayleigh (maybe we will end up with those anchor tattoos, Wifey 😉 ). We’ve talked about this project, about how important photos are, about how huge it is to tell someone how they anchor you to this life, because maybe they NEED to hear it.

I want to do this (and I encourage you to join me, either on my blog or in your own social media space, but you’re welcome to request I come photograph your anchor and you can guest blog about what they mean to you) because I know life is short, I am watching my children grow at such a rapid rate that I can barely keep up. I want to recognize those people in my life that keep me grounded, sane and taken care of.

Look for the first in this series later this week. And let me know if you’d like to join me.

You are somebody’s anchor.

Happy 4th Birthday, Hemy Michael


Henry, today you are 4 years old, but to me you’re still my sweet newborn baby, who never cried and smiled at every single person you met. You have always had such a sweet spirit about you and I continue to see that grow more and more and in different ways. You are SO full of life, you’re ready to explore and discover everything. I hope we continue to help develop your naturally good character,  I truly believe that you will make a positive difference in this world, that you will help the lives of others (I know because you already do, effortlessly).

You are such a sweet big brother, everywhere we go, you introduce your sister, Peyton to people, you are proud that she is yours and you are lonely when she’s not around. It amazes me to watch you two play, you both laugh and laugh and she follows you around, she’s your little shadow. When she hurts, you hug her and tell her it’s okay, and she has started to return the affection when you’re hurt. When she cries in the car, you do something to make her laugh and you always, without hesitation share your snacks (with everyone, it brings you joy). I hope your bond always continues to grow and I can’t wait to watch you two have so many adventures together.

This past year of life was a year of many firsts! You played T-ball for the first time, your team The Dodgers went undefeated (as did every other team in your league!). You did a great job fielding the ball and throwing it to first base. You did a great job up to bat too. I love that you enjoyed it and that we continue to play in the front field after dinner.  It made me so excited for the future, to see what sports or clubs you decide you want to do, and watching you grow and enjoy yourself as you find what you’re most passionate about in life. You slept in a tent, you went to Michigan, you read multiple books from memory, you were in parade and experienced your first death, our sweet dog Bella.


This year was also your first year of VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our church. You LOVED it. Every night and every morning you asked if we could go back to VBS. You learned new songs (and dance moves), you did crafts, played games and learned more about our faith. You really started to take more of an interest in Jesus and “the priest” and I hope your faith continues to grow as you learn more and more about that great guy named Jesus. Along with this is how you’ve learned to say grace before meals, night and morning prayers and you take great care to genuflect in church, showing Jesus that you care.


YOU potty trained yourself. Daddy and I decided that potty training was not a battle we wanted to fight. We waited until you seemed to show more interest and within a week or 2 you just got it. There were no fights or tears, but there was lots of cookies and a gift once you had gone accident free for a week. I was just so proud that it was something that you just got, mostly on your own. Earlier in the year we also moved you to your own room. You’re not 100% perfect at staying in your bed, because you still want to cuddle mommy and daddy (which I can’t blame you) but I’m proud of your strides in becoming more independent in other ways too. You dress and undress yourself, you wash your own hands, you help set the table and help put laundry away, you help clean your toys up and sometimes you even listen to us when we say no (ha!).


You still LOVE to read. You choose to read without being asked to and you have memorized a fair amount of books that I often find you reading to Peyton. I hope that your love of books and reading continues to grow, I think it’s an activity that you and I will have a lot of fun with as you start to learn to read on your own. When I asked you what you wanted for your birthday this year, you said, “A BOOK!” Don’t worry, if this is always a passion of yours, I will help you nurture it. You can write your name (with help) too!


This next year will be a big one too! In less than a month you will start preschool (2x a week), you’re already asking to go. I am very excited for you because I know you will love it, you’re just the kinda kid (like mama) that LOVED school. You may take swim lessons and give soccer a try too. We can’t wait to see you grow, learn and continue to be an awesome kid. You are not always easy, but you are always worth it, I hope you know that. I hope you know that magnitude that you are loved and I hope you take all of the love into the world and be exactly who you are meant to be. You will always have us behind you, your biggest fans.




Me: What is your name?
Henry: Hemy Michael

Me: How old are you?
H: 3

Me: Who is your hero?
H: Daddy is a hero and you are hero and Henry is a hero and Peyton is a hero

Me: Who is your best friend?
H: Peyton! And Caleb. And all of my friends.

Me: What’s your favorite food?
H: Hmmm, CAKE!

Me: What’s your favorite color?
H: Jesus
Me: Color, Henry. What’s your favorite color?
H: Jesus

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do?
H: Go to the park

Me: Who do you miss?
H: Caleb and Daddy.

Me: Who do you love the most?
H: Jesus. Jesus is my best friend. Jesus hes a God, Jesus died. Jesus sings a lot. He prays a lot.

Me: What’s your favorite animal?
H: All the animals. Eggs. And I miss Curious George

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do outside?
H: Run. Catch fireflies.

May Book Reviews

fairestwinterFairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer

4/5 stars (for both) (spoiler, do not read if you’re reading this series)

These two books are a continuation of The Lunar Chronicles series. Again, I know they sound super geeky, but they are action packed! Fairest tells the back story of Queen Levana (think: mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all). It details her childhood and her slow but powerful rise to being queen. She is the embodiment of the beauty movement today. I questioned while reading this book, how many women wake up every day determined to paint a face on, style their hair perfectly, in order to put a specific image out to everyone and how at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how beautiful you are if you are rotting on the inside. I thought that her back story would make me feel sympathetic toward her, but it really didn’t. Her past didn’t really define her future, she seemed to always be above others. In Winter we see the end of the long battle between Cinder and Levana, good vs evil, of course. I did feel that it was too long, too many hiccups and roadblocks and I really felt like the build up was too long, a lot could’ve been edited out. However, I was surprised that no main character died. I kept waiting for someone to die because it just didn’t seem possible that everyone would live, although Princess Winter (Snow White) didn’t make it out unscathed. While this was not my favorite YA series, it was a great play on the classic stories we grew up with. It was also a great display of how too much power certainly corrupts.

renewedRenewed: Ten Ways to Rediscover the Saints, Embrace Your Gifts and Revive Your Catholic Faith by Robert P. Reed

4.5/5 Stars

I read this book with my MOMs group at church (Saint John Vianney Catholic Church). We read a chapter every week, so I read it over a couple of months. Each chapter compared two Catholic saints that in someway related to each other in the way they lived out their lives for God. It is a very simple read, it’s not hard to get through a chapter or to understand the message. I loved how it related the saints of the past to today, it truly showed that nothing is new, nothing has changed, we are still fighting the same battles. This book forced you to look at how you (or your church) is being present in today’s society. We must be a church in the world, but not of the world, be innovative but also unchanging. I enjoyed learning about the background to many saints I didn’t know much about. It was great to see that often times they took life one day at a time, not being overwhelmed by the bigger picture and that often times we can only help one person, but that that can make all the difference. My only criticism is, as the book progressed I felt like the content/length/meat dropped off some, about half way through I felt like there wasn’t as much to the book as there had been in the beginning.

pretties specialsPretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld

3.5/5 stars (both)

I read the first in this series (Uglies) a few years ago and recently had noticed my friend Sheryl reading the series. I decided to go ahead and finish it (although I’m still waiting on the last installment). This is a YA series that is set in the future where many wars have made society collapse, on which a new society has emerged, where there is no war, no strife and everyone has a surgery to become pretty (and basically brainless). I love how much this series makes me think about how we should live our lives, what society should look like, what we are wiling to give up (power?) in order to have peace and what the human condition really looks like. I’m not going to go too much into the actual stories, too much happens but the story follows Tally, the main character and her ability to fight against the surgeries that she has undergone to remain her true self, that even though we are flawed as humans and many people do horrible things, that at the heart of our society we can still be good.

lucy bartonMy Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

3/5 stars

I have to be honest with you (the 1-2 people who are still reading this), I have absolutely no idea what this book was about, I remember NOTHING. Let me go read the premise. OH okay. I feel bad because I actually related to this book a lot, it’s very short but poignant. This story is mostly set in the hospital where Lucy is recovering from a minor illness, her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years comes to sit by her bedside. The story flashes back to the past, Lucy’s childhood. I related to the mother/daughter aspect and the struggle to form a meaningful relationship after too much time/hurt has set in. I find it hard to understand how a mother allows time and space to get between them and their child, but I suppose I can’t understand every circumstance that others go through. I don’t remember enough of this story to really give you a sense of it, it’s a short and easy read but not super exciting. I did feel at times that I was reading the story from the point of a view of a child, the syntax seemed immature.

troublemakerTroublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

4.5/5 stars
(I actually finished this in June, but want to write about it while it’s fresh in my head)

Please note, reviewing this book probably means I can never join the “church” (CULT) of Scientology and that is just fine with me. Leah Remini, whom you probably know best from her role on “The King of Queens” writes about her time as a member (over 30 years) of Scientology (you know that strange religion that Tom Cruise is a member of too). I honestly didn’t know much about this group/church/cult before reading the book, however it had always rubbed me the wrong way. I’m huge into religions (big and small), I minored in religious studies in college. I find it fascinating how people buy into certain things and follow it without question (yeah, I know some of you are shaking your heads right now saying, “But Isha, you’re Catholic, you buy into it too!” (haha)). Remini gives you insight into her time with Scientology and all I can say is, “Thank God she made it out alive!” I enjoyed that she was very self-effacing, she spoke openly about her own mistakes and downfalls, the book wasn’t all about exposing Scientology.  Scientology is very controlling, they don’t care if you go into severe debt, they don’t care if you break up your family and/or never see them again. They want you 100% into the church, using every resource you have for it, you know so you can help “clear” the world. I question if this religion is even that anymore or if it’s really just a power trip from those who are in charge.  It’s bizarre and honestly, I’m still not sure I understand their point entirely. I will say that if you know someone in this religion, you should be wary. I fear for the lives of those who are in very deep, who couldn’t walk away if they wanted to. Read this book!

April Book Reviews

I hit bit of a reading slump/we’ve been enjoying the weather outside a lot and I’ve been in Spring cleaning mode, so I didn’t get as much reading done in April as I did in the winter months. One book I read in April (Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter), I am choosing not to review. It was too graphic, too dark. I don’t even want to think about it again. My curiosity was the one only reason I finished it, I wanted to see if the main characters survived.


scarcressScarlet and Cress by Marissa Meyer

3.5./5 stars (both)

(Contains spoilers)

These were the 1st and the last books I read in April, it’s hard to remember where one ends and the other begins. These are the 2nd and 3rd installments of The Lunar Chronicles. Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood) and Cress (Rapunzel) continue with Cinder’s  (Cinderella)  story to save Prince Kai from marrying Queen Levana. I felt like both, at times, did drag. Scarlet meets Wolf, they venture to try to save Scarlet’s grandmother, who has been kidnapped by Queen Levana’s forces, as they believe she has information on the missing (assumed dead) princess, Princess Selene (Queen Levana’s niece). Of course they fall in love, there is betrayal and then Cinder swoops in and basically saves the day. Cress is a Lunar shell stranded on a satellite to do Queen Levana’s bidding. She gets in touch with Cinder’s ship and a plan is made to save her. But it goes wrong, Cress and Captain Thorne (who broke out of prison with Cinder) crash land on Earth. Eventually everyone links back up with Cinder and Prince Kai is kidnapped. There is way too much going on in Cress and I found the events far fetched at times. That being said, the story is still intriguing and keeps you rooting for the characters to overcome evil (and to fall in love).


Our Souls at NIght by Kent Haruf

4.5 / 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. It’s very short but it’s so…poignant, so human.  The two main characters, Addie and Louis are in there seventies, long time neighbors and acquaintances. One day, Addie shows up at Louis’ door and asks him to sleep with her. Don’t misunderstand. She means exactly what she says, she wants someone to sleep next to. They have both lost their significant others many years prior. She is lonely, she wants the warmth of a body next to her. Such a simple desire, that many of us probably take for granted. Often times, I think we (the younger generation) think that the older generation simply don’t understand us, but this book really made me feel like it’s us that don’t understand them. Addie’s son finds their arrangement to be inappropriate and demands that Louis stops coming over at night to sleep with his mother. This, I found outrageous. All people long for companionship, a warm body. Do we forget our older generations too easily? Ship them off to a home and let them become lonely? This book was just so real, the people were so real. The dialogue was real. It felt very tangible.

ps i stillP.S I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2 by Jenny Han

5/5 stars

I again fell in love with this book (just as I did the first in the series). Lara Jean (a high school student) and Peter have committed to be in a relationship, which of course (being in high school) isn’t without it’s complications. Peter’s ex-girlfriend still hangs on to Peter and a boy from Lara Jean’s past makes a reappearance in her life. They both grow to understand that relationships aren’t easy and that communication and honesty are hard but key in any successful relationship. It’s a sweet coming of age story and makes me reminiscent of my young loves.

i was hereI Was Here by Gayle Forman

3.5/5 stars

I don’t know why, but I keep coming across books (unknowingly) that deal with suicide. Cody has recently lost her best friend Meg, who chose to commit suicide. Cody is left with so much guilt, she had no idea Meg was depressed or suicidal. There had been some distance between them since they had graduated from high school and they had not been in constant contact. Meg’s parents ask Cody to go to Meg’s college to retrieve her things and Cody comes across some emails Meg had not been able to delete from her computer. Through this, Cody discovers that Meg has been on a suicide support (supporting a person’s right to commit suicide) and interacting with someone who inadvertently encourages Meg to commit suicide. Cody eventually realizes that what she is hoping to do is find someone else to blame (besides herself, besides Meg) for Meg’s death. Through this journey Cody forgives herself, forgives Meg and comes to a greater understanding about what Meg had been dealing with for years. This is a great book for young adults (older high schoolers too) to read. This is such a misunderstanding about depression , we hide it away because it’s we feel embarrassed, we don’t treat it, to help prevent it’s repercussions. Or we miss the signs in others. It puts a face on suicide/depression–it happens to normal, strong people .

With that being said, it wasn’t the most exciting book, but the message outweighs the missing thrill.

If you or someone you know is battling depression or having suicidal thoughts, there is help for you, you are not alone. If you’re reading this and you need someone, please leave a comment/contact me. You can also visit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

March Book Reviews

ready player oneReady Player One by Ernest Cline`

5/5 Stars

This novel is set in the future, a time in which virtual reality is most people’s every day reality. People choose to basically live in “The Oasis” which is an all consuming virtual reality that they can slip into and basically escape their lives and go anywhere and do anything. The story follows the main character Wade (AKA Parzival in the Oasis), a gunter trying to complete a huge quest to find missing Easter eggs hidden by the legendary Jim Halliday (co-created of the Oasis). I hesitated to read this book at first because I am not a huge video game enthusiast, nor do I know much about the 80s (I was only alive for 2 years during the 80s) but this story was an amazing adventure, it was hard to put it down, there really wasn’t a slow moment. There is a plethora of 80s references, from movies, to video games to music. If you’re a fan of the 80s, you would really love this book, if you’re a fan of arcade games and/or old school games, you would really love this book, if you love a great adventure with a handful of anticipation, you would love this book. Basically, you should read this book. Look for it on the big screen in 2018, directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Girl With All the Gifts
by M.R. Carey

2.5/5 stars

(Does contain spoilers, but you could find a better book to read, so you mizewell read my review)

I read this book as part of a book club I am in on Goodreads. I didn’t read a summary beforehand, I had no idea what it was about.  When I initially started the book, I was pretty drawn in, it was intriguing. It follows Melanie, a young girl (kind of), who is locked up and escorted to class every day. My mind went in a lot of different places; was she a murderer or insane? No, the world has been basically taken over by a virus that broke out and turned humans into zombies/cannibals. However, Melanie and a few other children don’t have the impulse to eat others unless they encounter human pheromones. After the first 50 pages I lost a lot of interest. Much of the dialogue felt forced or unrealistic, like I doubt some of the characters would actually say the things they said. The ending wrapped up pretty quickly, basically almost all of the characters died in 5 minutes and the cannibal children take over.


The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

4/5 stars

(Mild spoilers)

I have read a lot of negative reviews about this book. Apparently this book was posed as the next Gone Girl and a lot of people felt like it didn’t live up to the hype. I disagree, I liked this book, a lot, I read it quickly. I understand how it may be hard to relate to the main character, Ani. She’s very negative, pretty shallow and the book itself is dark. If you’ve been through sexual trauma or lived through other traumatic events this book may be hard for you to read. The book is set in present day but flashes back to Ani’s high school experience.  She attended an upper class private school, wanting desperately to fit in, she hangs out with the jocks and popular girls. The boys invite her over to a party one night and she is gang raped, which severely traumatizes her, which then influences who she becomes as an adult. One of her less popular friends, ends up participating in a school shooting, which Ani witnesses and lives through. As an adult, every single thing Ani does, is to distance herself from her past, to show that she has risen about and is better than the girl every one knew in high school. It makes her seem stuck up and shallow. However, she does go through quite a change and by the end of the book she is ready for the next chapter in life and ready to truly grow as a person and rise above her past in the right way. It hits on bullying, eating disorders, sexual abuse/trauma and severe traumatic events. This book is also headed to the big screen.

Recently the author, Jessica Knoll opened up about her own gang rape experience. You can read the article here. Thank you, Ms Knoll for using your horrible experience to help others. Thank you for your truth.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

3.5/5 stars

(Partial spoilers)

Y’all I’ve got to stop it with the post apocalyptic books. In this one, aliens have come to destroy all humans. The annihilation of the human race has come in waves (hence the title), very few people are left, one being the main character Cassie. Just a teenager, she is out in the wilderness alone, hiding from the aliens which now look just like humans, with no outward distinguishing characteristics. She has been separated from her brother who ends up running into her former crush. Cassie’s only goal is to find her brother, even if it means dying in the process. Luckily (or unlucky) she ends up with Evan, their relationship changes everything.  You can’t trust anyone in this book, it leaves you second guessing everyone’s intentions. It certainly doesn’t slow down, it’s a wild ride. It’s currently a major motion picture (with bad reviews) in a theater near you.

glass swordThe Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

4.5/5 stars

The Glass Sword is the 2nd book in the Red Queen series, picking up with Mare fleeing newly instated, murderous King Maven. If you’re looking for a happy and upbeat book, this isn’t it. It’s depressing and full of heartbreak, but it’s unavoidable. I did sometimes feel that we were in Mare’s head too much (kind of how I felt we when we were in Harry’s head too much in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Mare and her friends set out to find more of her kind, Red blood, Silver power and so does the deadly Maven. Mare faces a choice, giving up herself or continuing her fight which means losing others along the way.

saint anything
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

3.5/5 stars

I must preface this by letting you readers known I read the last 10% of this on April 1st, my husband threatened to rat me out if I didn’t admit to this. While this book doesn’t have any crazy adventures, it was still a quick and quality read. The main character Syndey, has been under a lot of stress, her older brother Peyton’s life spun out of control resulting in a prison stay. She has been carrying around guilt, unsure of how to cope with the outcome of his mistakes, it’s a lonely place to be. She decides to switch schools where she becomes friends with a new group of people,  who truly embody the meaning of friendship: loving without expectation and forgiving easily. It also reminds you to follow your instinct and to take care of yourself. Also it will leave you craving pizza and French fries. I enjoyed the hearts that the characters had, a reminder that there are good and true people in the world. Syndey learns a lot about herself and learns it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.

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