May & June Highlights

I haven’t done a highlights post in forever! It feels nice to be back into blogging regularly :)

Here is what I was up to the past two months…

I read 8 books.

Hitchhiker's Guide  Jurassic Park  Persuasion harrypotter whereshewent

      Fables  Seconds  Stealing the Groom

Which is a lot considering I was still coming off my reading slump last month.

Most Popular Posts

Where I’ve Been – It was nice to finally share with everyone our exciting news and explain why I’d been absent for several months.

25 Things: Ever After’s Château de Hautefort – I love that this post from last summer is still so popular, especially since it was on my bucket list for so long & I’d love to revisit it!

What I Watched

I finally got to catch up with my favorite web series! I updated my ‘Literary Vlogs’ sidebar to reflect some of the new YouTube shows I’ve been watching, like Northbound and From Mansfield With Love (adaptations of Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, respectively).

Northbound

I relate very much to Catherine Morland…and of course, who doesn’t love Henry Tilney?!

I also caught up on From Mansfield With Love, finally. It’s a harder Jane Austen novel to adapt, but the frequent cameos from the minor characters make it pretty interesting :)

May & June Highlights

  • Traveling – I traveled a lot the past two months. Probably more than a pregnant lady should, but I always had a buddy with me (either family members or Solo) and it was nice to visit friends and family.
  • 2nd Trimester! – After the first trimester’s ups and downs, it’s been like a breath of fresh air being in my second trimester. We also got to see our “little baby french fry” up close and found out it’s a boy! Since then we’ve been preparing our tiny apartment (and ourselves) for his arrival. Every time I see a friend has had her baby I get a tiny bit jealous! For now, labor doesn’t scare me, but I’m sure that’ll change in a few months!

    24 Weeks

    24 weeks as of July 6th!

  • VACATION! – Last week we went on a family reunion cruise. It was wonderful :)
    Key West

    My husband and me in Key West (we also visited Cozumel).

    Carnival

    Carnival Ecstasy

    Cruise

    My mom’s side of the family :)

    Matt and Ian

    My brother would probably kill me if he knew I put this online, but I love this picture so much! We were all pretty exhausted on the drive back from Miami.

    We also got to spend 4th of July at EPCOT so my husband and I got an unexpected Disney fix (thanks to my aunt’s sister who works at the parks).
    Epcot

    Matt

    Isn’t he cute? ;)

May & June Challenges

  • Feeling hungry all the time – This has been the one pitfall to my second trimester. I feel like I’m hungry so often, and most of the time the only foods I want to eat are sweets and junk food =P I’ve always been active and have had a fast metabolism, so it’s hard for me to limit myself but I don’t want to overindulge at the same time.
  • Missing having a job – I wasn’t able to find a job before we moved to Wilmington, and after I hit the 12 weeks mark I figured it would just be best for me to take it easy and pick up my job search early next year. But I miss having a routine and that extra income. If anyone knows of some reliable, non-telemarketing, work-from-home jobs, PLEASE let me know!

Things I’m Looking Forward To in July

  • More traveling – Hey, it’s better to get all this traveling in now than when after the baby arrives!
  • Catching up on reading – I’m trying to put a big dent in my Classics TBR plus I have tons of unread books on my shelves that I’d like to get to sometime this year.
  • Summer activities with friends – We have some game nights and beach days penned down for the summer that my husband and I are both looking forward to (although I’m much more hesitant about the ocean after the 8th North Carolina shark attack this year was reported a few days ago…).

July To Be Read

harrypotter  The Martian Wives and Daughters

My husband and I are continuing through our read along of the Harry Potter series. I started reading The Martian last month and although it’s holding my attention, it does take a while to read. I’m seriously behind on my Classics Club list, so I’m picking up Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters this month.

What was your favorite moment from June?

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read (So Far) in 2015

toptentuesdayThe year is halfway over, and despite the fact that I took a 3-month long reading and blogging hiatus, I have read a decent amount of books so far this year! Which is great, because today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is about the top books I’ve read so far this year. Unfortunately, I’ve only read a handful of books that I really loved (meaning I gave them a 5-star rating), so I’m cutting this list down to 5 books.

Top Ten Five Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park by Michael Crichton – I shared my review for this book last week, but this book was definitely a big hit with me. I loved the characters, the dinosaurs, and even the philosophy in the books (which is funny, since I usually stray away from books or discussions heavy in philosophy).

harrypotterHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – My first reread this year! I’ve been reading the series with my husband, who has seen the movies but never read the books, and even after having read this book so many times that the pages are literally falling out, I still enjoy it just as much. Eternal 5-star rating!

mara dyerThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – I feel like it’s been much longer than 6 months since I’ve read this book, but I still remember staying up really late to finish it because I had to know what happened next! It has so much: mystery, suspense, romance. Definitely my favorite book in Hodkin’s series and obviously one of the best books I’ve read this year.

earnestThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – An easy book to read in one sitting (or listen to on the way to and from work, as I did), Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy” had me laughing and hoping for a happy ending, and I was definitely pleased :) This is a great read for people who aren’t very used to reading classics.

PersuasionPersuasion by Jane Austen – Oh, I lied earlier. Persuasion was my first reread this year (although I did reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the same week), and it was also the first time I had reread this particular novel, my second favorite of all Jane Austen’s works. I still felt just as much for Anne Elliot, and I definitely still swooned at Captain Wentworth’s letter <3 This book has gotten me all excited for Austen in August in a little over month! (I’ll be following along with two blogosphere events this year: here and here)

Honorable Mention:

whereshewentWhere She Went by Gayle Forman – I read this sequel last month and never got to talk about it, but I definitely enjoyed it more than the first novel, If I Stay. That’s probably because I got used to Gayle Forman’s writing style. In If I Stay I wasn’t prepared for the whole book to take place over 24 hours and most of the plot happening in flashbacks, so I got a little annoyed, but this time I anticipated that and had more fun reading it.

Thanks for reading! What have been some of your favorite reads so far this year?

25 Things Update!

25thyearEarlier this year I posted a list of 25 things I wanted to do in the year before my 26th birthday. I feel like I’m a little behind, and there are already a few entries on the list that I know I won’t be able to cross off this year, but that’s ok. The whole point of this list was to give me some fun goals for the year and I’m already very pleased with the fun things I’ve been able to do so far.

Over the past several months I have been able to cross off some things from my list that I never got around to posting about! I feel bad about that because I could have easily made individual posts for these things and shared with you more pictures. But sometimes a shorter update is better :)

Here are four things I crossed off earlier this year that I never got around to posting about!

#12 Swim in the Mediterranean

Before we left France we took a day trip down to St. Cyr, which is about an hour east of Marseille. The water was so clear and blue, I can totally see why so many people like to vacation in the south of France. The beach was really crowded, there were even people waiting for other people to get up so they could take their spots. The weather was beautiful and although we had to drive three hours there and back, it was such a lovely day. I would have really regretted living in France for two and a half years and never getting to see the Mediterranean.

IMG_5475
IMG_5490
IMG_5496

#14 Join a club

Several months ago my blogging friend Regina @ The Sunflower Pages mentioned that she wanted to start an online book club focusing on Young Adult books and I immediately jumped on board! I love reading books with other people, and the fact that it’s an online club was even better for me since I was living abroad at the time. Now that I’m back in the States it’s still nice chatting with people from all over the place.

bookclub

So far we’ve read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (LOVED IT), If I Stay by Gayle Forman (just in time for the movie),  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. Right now we’re reading Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard.

#20 Attend a masked ball or period-era ball or maybe just a really elaborately themed party

In June we had to say goodbye to our Grenoble community, and it was even more bittersweet than I thought it would be because they threw us a Disney costume party! It was so well done between the decorations, the food, the games, and of course the costumes :)

IMG_4677

Matt and I as Peter Pan and Wendy :)

Disney Party

Winnie the Pooh and Mickey & Minnie Mouse cakes!

Disney Party

My friend Laure (Minnie) who drove down from Lyon to see me, and my American friends Joy and Lisa who planned the party :)

Disney Party

My wonderful friend Dalene who was one of my closest friends in Grenoble. I miss her so much!

#21 FIND A NEW JOB

This was one of the biggest things on my list, and in my October Highlights post I shared with you that I had an interview in the beginning of November. Well…I GOT THE JOB! I started last Wednesday so this week is my first full week. So far, I love it! It’s a very small office (there are 4 of us), but that makes everything so much more personal. The job itself is low-stress and relaxed, which is a nice change of pace. I’m very excited for this new direction I’m taking, and I’m also looking forward to my husband finding a job so we can find a place to live & finally be able to settle down and unpack our wedding gifts (they’ve been in their original boxes in my parents’ basement for nearly 3 YEARS because we moved to France right after getting married).

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, encouraged me, and gave me interview advice! I am so so thankful :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Series & Sequels

toptentuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish, is about sequels! Unfortunately, I don’t read very many series, but there are lots of series I want to read. So I’m altering this meme to include series I’ve already started and ones I’ve been wanting to start as well.

Top Ten Series & Sequels I’m Excited to Read

whereshewent mylifenextdoor clockwiser silencedbytheyams thescorchtrials

Where She Went by Gale Forman – Earlier this year I read If I Stay, and although I liked it, it is a heavy book with lots of feels. I’ve really been wanting to read Where She Went since then, but I’m saving it for when I’m in the mood for an intense read. Where She Went is told from Adam’s POV which is exciting!
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick – I had to use the cover for My Life Next Door since the cover for the sequel hasn’t been released yet! This one is coming out sometime next year and I’m really excited for it. My Life Next Door really bested my expectations, and I know its sequel will be amazing as well.
Clockwiser by Elle Strauss – Clockwise was one of my favorite reads from last year. It’s a YA time traveling story that was really fun and actually inspired me to write a short story last year. Clockwiser continues where it’s predecessor left off, and the time-traveling becomes even more dangerous when the main character’s brother gets transported back to Civil War America…and enlists!
Silenced by the Yams by Karen Cantwell – This is a murder-mystery-romcom series that I really enjoy. The first book in the series, Take the Monkeys and Run, is actually the first book I bought when I received my first Kindle. I read the sequel, Citizen Insane, last year and I’ve been wanting to finish the series ever since. I love this romance series because it focuses on the main character trying to fix her relationship with her husband.
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner – I haven’t actually read The Maze Runner yet, but I broke my cardinal rule by seeing the movie earlier this month (gasp!). I will get around to reading this series, I just need to carve out time to marathon 4 books.

virals theeyeofminds theevolutionofmaradyer brokenhearts athousandpiecesofyou

Virals by Kathy & Brendan Reichs – I bought the first book in this series for my husband while I was at YALL Fest. I’ll probably read it too, since I love Bones and this book is told from the POV of her great-niece.
The Eye of Minds by James Dashner – Another book I bought for my husband at YALL Fest, this series is about an internet gaming kidnapper. Yep, that looks really interesting!
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – I haven’t read the first book in this series, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but while I was at YALL Fest I bought the second book (the first was sold out) because my friend wanted to get her copies signed. Michelle Hodkin was so nice and took several minutes speaking with each of her fans. This book looks dark and mysterious, probably something I should have read during Halloween, but it’s on my Christmas wish list so if someone doesn’t gift it to me I’ll be buying a copy myself.
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn – I’ve been itching to read this series. The second novel Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold, comes out next year. Katie Finn is Morgan Matson’s pen name, and I know these books differ from her other ones, but I have no doubt I’ll like these ones just as much.
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – I haven’t read this book yet, and I couldn’t even tell you what it’s about, but the cover is gorgeous and it has a lot of my favorite genres AND there are 2 sequels in the works according to Goodreads, so I’m adding it to my TBR. I think I put this on my Christmas wish list, too!

What are some sequels (or series) you’re excited about reading? Clearly a lot of the sequels on my list have been out for a while–do you have any recs for current series?

6 Impressions From a First Time YALL Fest-er

Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell!!!!

This time last week I was at YALL Fest, the largest Young Adult book festival in North America (which means it’s probably the largest in the world). It. Was. AMAZING.

I went with my friend Regina and it was our first time at a festival like this so needless to say we were overwhelmed! Later next year, before the next YALL Fest, I will post all about our tips and advice, but for now, let me just enthuse about my 6 biggest impressions/favorite memories from YALL Fest 2014!

  1. Meeting two of my favorite authors

    Ann Brashares
    The two authors I was most looking forward to meeting at YALL Fest were Ann Brashares, author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park, Landline, and Attachments (my favorite read of the year so far). I got to meet them both and have them sign some books and I was fangirling like crazy! Ann Brashares’s line was shorter which was awesome because she spent a few minutes talking to each of her fans. She told me so many nice things: that I look like a Maggie, that she loved my hair (and she talked about how her daughter has red hair, too), and she was also really happy that I loved Sisterhood Everlasting (the final, darker, and sadder Sisterhood book). Rainbow Rowell’s line was fast-moving, but she did let us take pictures with her! Dreams come true :)

  2. The panels!
    Ok, for anyone who may be going to YALL Fest in the future, do not miss out on the panels!! I absolutely loved meeting Ann Brashares and Rainbow Rowell, but the panels were equally amazing. We got to go to 3 and a half (we came in halfway through one called “The New Romantics”) and it really made YALL Fest incredible for us.
    The New Romantics – several YA romance authors including Ann Brashares, Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass), and Kiera Cass (The Selection), talked about the most romantic things that someone has done for them, genres they wish they could write, and their most embarrassing pieces of writing.

    The New Romantics
    Hollywood Adaptations – LOVED this panel! All of the authors here seemed so down to earth, especially James Dashner, who is such a goof…I can’t wait to meet him one day.

    Hollywood Adaptations
    Closing Keynote – This was a panel with Sarah Dessen (Just Listen, The Truth About Forever) and Ally Condie (The Matched series, Atlantia), but the most entertaining aspect was the moderator, Brendan Reichs (The Virals series), who was absolutely hilarious! It was also inspiring to hear about Ally and Sarah’s writing processes.

    Closing Keynote

  3. YA Smackdown – This is a DO NOT MISS event. Dozens of authors participated in different skits, the most memorable being Hollywood Squares, reading the first lines of famous YA novels, and reading some of their earliest, most embarrassing works. All of this was topped off with a musical performance that concluded with The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp.

    YA Smackdown

  4. Realizing authors are just like us
    This sounds like an US Weekly article, but it’s true. The panels showed me that most authors are weird (in a good way)! They aren’t polished or “above anyone,” except some of them DO dress like they’re straight out of The Devil Wears Prada (I’m talking to you, Marie Lu <3)

    Marie Lu

  5. Blogger Dinner
    Friday night we were happy to attend a book blogger dinner where we got to meet bloggers from all over the continent. It was such a fun evening! I love the blogging community :)

    BloggerDinner
  6. Connecting with other fans/bloggers/authors on Twitter
    THIS actually turned out to be a life saver. We found that the YALL Fest website had a lot of conflicting info, for example, some of the author signings required wristbands which were given out earlier in the day. One of these special wristbands was needed for Rainbow Rowell’s line, and the website said those would be given out to the first 200 people in her line in the afternoon, but actually, they were giving them out in the morning. If I hadn’t been scrolling through Twitter while getting dressed that morning, I would have missed the memo a fan fortunately tweeted. I OWE MY SIGNED RAINBOW BOOKS TO HER! Next year, stay updated through Twitter.
  7. Charleston is a lovely city!

    Macaroons
    The people there were so nice! The waitresses, the parking garage attendants, even curious drivers were nice to all of us out-of-towners. And the city had so many cute shops and restaurants. I’ll love visiting this city again next year!

I know this post was long! But hopefully it helps anyone who wants to attend YALL Fest next year! I will probably post about this again next fall because I have plenty of advice for first timers!

YALL Fest

Veronica Roth and James Dashner were hilarious “frenemies” at YALL Fest :)

gayleforman

I also got to meet Gayle Forman!

Did you attend YALL Fest this year or in the past? What did you think??

Top Ten (Thurs)day: Summer Reads

toptentuesdayThis post was meant for Tuesday, but I have been pretty busy this week between my job wrapping up, taking a day trip to Lyon (fun!), and watching 3 matches of the World Cup every night, so Top Ten Tuesday has become Top Ten Thursday for me this week :)

Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List:

 Here are the books that I’ve already started and hope to finish this summer :)

robinhoodThe Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle – I have always been a big Robin Hood fan, I even dressed up as Robin Hood once for a British-themed costume party, and last month we went and saw a Robin Hood musical that’s touring France at the moment (it was really cool!). So since then I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hood kick and I’m in the process of reading Howard Pyle’s version of my favorite legend :)

littlemenLittle Men by Louisa May Alcott – I read Little Women last month (review still on the way) and loved it! I knew the story since I grew up watching the 1994 film version, but the book was so much better. So after I finished it I started reading the sequel, Little Men, but I’m still in the beginning chapters. The reason for that is because I started the book below…

lesmisLes Misérables by Victor Hugo – About a month and a half ago I posted on Twitter about how Les Misérables was a book that had been on my TBR/Classics Club list for a while, but because it intimidated me so much I had been procrastinating on reading it. Well, someone else had been feeling a little similar to me, and so we decided to read it together this month :) I really had been wanting to read it in French, but this book is massive, and I am maybe 2% finished with it right now. We’ll see if I can persevere in le français, or if I’ll have to switch to English.

Books I want to start this summer! (Click on the titles for the Goodreads links)

heartandsoulHeart & Soul by Lee Strauss – Lee Strauss (sometimes Elle Strauss) is one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. I’ve read two of her other series, Clockwise (a YA time traveling series) and Perception (a YA futuristic sci-fi series), and loved them both. So last week when I saw she was giving out ARC copies of her new novel, Heart & Soul, in exchange for reviews, I jumped on board :) I hope to be reading this one within the next couple of days so check back for my thoughts!

ifistayIf I Stay by Gayle Forman – I recently saw the trailer for this upcoming book-made-film and instantly became intrigued. It looks like a major tear jerker, but I love stories that make me cry (it’s a powerful emotion) so I can’t wait to delve into this one.

secondchancesummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson – I’m in an online book club, and last week we read Morgan Matson’s most recent book Since You’ve Been Gone, and I fell in love with her writing style. That book had me laughing, sighing, and even holding back tears. So now her other novels Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour are now on my TBR list, SCS being a hopeful summer read since, you know, summer is in the title ;)

openroadsummerOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord – Another book with the word summer in the title, this book seems similar to Since You’ve Been Gone, and I’ve heard some good things about it, so I’m excited about reading it for myself. I’m thinking a Kindle download to keep me occupied on our 8 hour drive to the west of France next month.

journeyJourney to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne – Two French novels on my Summer TBR list! I plan on reading this one next month. For those of you who actually know me, you know that I have a lot of national pride for my two countries. I am glued to the television watching the Olympics and now the World Cup, cheering on the U.S. and France, and for both national holidays I like to celebrate by doing American and French things. Last year for Bastille Day I read Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days to celebrate. This year, my husband and I are going to read Journey to the Center of the Earth (hopefully in French!). We both love Verne’s novels, and the fact that my husband likes to read his books really says something since Matt doesn’t really like to read anything ;)

senseandsensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen –  I put this book on my previous Top Ten Tuesday post about Spring Reads, but I didn’t get a chance to read it. I read Northanger Abbey instead, since that was the only Austen novel I still hadn’t read. I haven’t picked up Sense and Sensibility since high school, though, so I think I’ll be reading it later this month when all the Austen in August events reappear :) In any case, every season is a good season to read Jane Austen.

northandsouthNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – I read this book for my Victorian Lit class in college, but after watching the miniseries a couple of years ago, I’ve been wanting to reread it (and then rewatch the miniseries because it’s so good). Also, knowing me, if I read any Jane Austen novel, I’ll immediately be stuck in a Regency/Victorian reading pit (a pit of lace and ribbons and chivalry, that is), and I’ll be looking for some more classic female masterpieces to read.

What are some books on your Summer To-Be-Read list? Do you have any other suggestions for my list?