Sunday, June 29, 2014

Races of 2014

Things have been pretty boring in my part of the world nowadays.

In mid-January, I joined a weight loss challenge with my aunt and uncle that was for 12 weeks.During these 12 weeks, I worked my butt off going to the gym almost every day, and did a lot of meal prep. I made myself snacks and lunches, and did a ton of portion control. I kept track of all of this using the My Fitness Pal app. I lost about 10 pound in the 12 weeks, and I am happy to say that I have kept it off. I have definitely fallen off the wagon as far as keeping my meals healthy and exercising regularly, so keeping off the weight has been a miracle.

I have run a little bit, but I haven't done it consistently enough to brag about it. But I have ran in a few races. The first one was in March. It was a 4k trail run, and it KICKED MY BUTT. I knew the trail would be difficult, but I definitely did not prepare myself for just how difficult it would be. We ran in the Turkey Mountain Wilderness area here in Tulsa. The trail was up and down and rocky and muddy and slippery. But I finished it in 40 minutes and 39 seconds. I was super proud of myself. AAAAAND a picture from that day:
Near the finish line
Then in April I ran the Color Run with one of my friends from high school. We didn't keep track of the time that we finished, but I highly suggest you run The Color Run at some point in time with some friends. It's so much fun!

In May, I decided to run the Burgers & Baseball 5k, also put on by Fleet Feet so that I could have a fun 5k to run in downtown Tulsa while also getting discounted tickets for a Drillers game. This allowed me to purchase an extra ticket so that I could treat my mother to a Drillers game. She has not been to the new Driller stadium, so I thought this would be a fun way to get tickets. As I mentioned before, I have not been running consistently, and downtown Tulsa is pretty hilly. So again, this one kicked my butt too. As evidenced by the photo below.  I finished this one in 43 minutes, 16 seconds.
Also at the finish line
Now, I am signed up to walk the Firecracker 5k. I would run it, but I signed up to do it with a friend, and she is having some major back issues and cannot run. So I'm excited to start my holiday weekend off in a slightly healthy manner. It will be followed by an afternoon matinee seeing Wicked with my mom. Unfortunately, after Wicked, I will be working all weekend at the baseball fields. But I guess money is never that bad of a thing to have. It's just unfortunate that I'll be spending my three-day weekend working.

Today is relaxing and doing a whole lot of nothing until I go watch True Blood with my friend Michelle later this evening. Hope you all have a relaxing Sunday as well!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Q2 2014 Readings

8039869Three to Get Deadly, Janet Evanovich - completed May 27, 2014

So after I read Two for the Dough, I wasn't entirely sure if I wanted to continue the series or if I just wanted to quit at book #2. I'm glad that I went ahead and decided to pick this one up.

Where two was lacking in comedy, Three to Get Deadly started it right back up!

Of course it follows the same basic concept as one and two-Stephanie Plum gets handed a big case that everyone thinks is too much for her to handle. She calls on Morelli and Ranger to help her out of tough situations, and Lula is the best character of them all.

It was funny enough for me to definitely want to pick up Four to Score. Rated 5/5 on goodreads.

35982My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands, Chelsea Handler - completed June 11, 2014

I had been wanting to read some of Chelsea Handler's books for quite some time. Then I found Books-A-Million at the Tulsa Hills shopping center here in Tulsa, and they have a really awesome Millionaire's Club that gives you all kinds of discounts on all purchases. Plus I went in there about 3 days after I got dumped, and I cannot be trusted in a book store when I'm emotional. Needless to say, I bought about 8 books that day, this being one of them.

My Horizontal Life is Chelsea's first book, and it's pretty dang funny. She seems to be completely honest in how she's telling the stories, as it doesn't seem she is holding anything back. Some of these stories are even embarrassing, I'm sure. She even admits to not being able to complete the deed at the end of the book.

The stories make you laugh right out loud as she is telling them. And the fact that she calls one of her roommates Dumb Dumb made me laugh every single time. Again, seeing as how I had recently been dumped, this laugh-out-loud book was definitely what I needed. Rated 4/5 stars on goodreads.

13540868Desert Drop, Rex Kusler - completed June 13, 2014

This is book #3 in the Las Vegas mystery series that I picked up last summer. If you haven't figured out by now, I love good kindle book bargains from amazon. Amazon had a special last summer that allowed you to buy books for $1 from a certain list of books. This series was on that list, and I decided to go ahead and purchase all three.

I read the first two last summer, but decided I wanted to wait a little on the third (and I believe there is actually more than 3 now as well). This book was a little similar to the first two, in that Alice and Jim get introduced to their case within the first few pages of the book. Then the rest of the book is about them trying to crack the case before Las Vegas homicide does. Both P.I.'s are former detectives, who both gave up the life because they decided it wasn't for them anymore.

The story is pretty good, as the big plot twist in this one is that the person who was murdered was Alice's half sister, who was supposed to be meeting Alice for the first time before she was murdered.

Who the killers are was enough of a plot twist that I guessed the entire time as to who was the second person in the conspiracy. I do not know for sure if I will look into the fourth book yet, but These first three were definitely interesting enough that I enjoyed reading all three of them. Rated 4/5 stars on goodreads.

5821978The Summer I Turned Pretty, Jenny Han - completed June 17, 2014

I decided to pick this series up after Katy told me she accidentally read the third book first, and that she liked it fairly well. I read the summaries on all three of the books and decided they would most likely be pretty good summer reads.

I finished this book in less than a week. I was correct in assuming the book would be a good summer read.

The main character's name is Isabel, Belly for short. She measures her life in summers, and summers at Cousins Beach. For as long as Belly can remember, she's been in love with Conrad, who is the son of her mother's long-time friend Susannah. Belly's whole existence of summers have been spent being an outsider to Conrad, his brother Jeremiah, and her brother Steven. But this summer is one that she hopes everything will change. This summer, "Belly is all grown up," and she's hoping that Conrad will be able to see just that.

But as the summer progresses, Conrad distances himself even more, and Belly finds a new boy to spend time with. And for the first time for as long as she can remember, she is growing irritated with Conrad, and doesn't want to "love" him anymore.

At the end of the summer, startling news is revealed about one of the summer family members, and it causes their whole world to be turned upside down. Belly goes back to her real life full of uncertainty. The epilogue is pretty great though! Rated 4/5 stars on goodreads.

18010355The Line, J.D. Horn - completed June 18, 2014

I read this book in about 24 hours. This was another one I picked up from amazon's kindle first books. (SERIOUSLY, GO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS SERVICE!)

This book is set in modern-day Savannah, Georgia. I have been to this location one time and I of course loved the history, the verandas, the Spanish Moss, the cobblestone streets, the MILLIONS of pillars on colonial homes! So when I got this particular month's options, a book set in Savannah seemed the perfect choice!

The Savannah Taylors are a group of witches who all possess different powers-all except Mercy. Mercy is a twin, and her twin Maisie was the child born with all the powers. The ancient history of the family is that they are one of 13 families who helped to separate our world from the demons, and now each of them are set up to hep protect "The Line," that is, the line between our world and theirs.

All Mercy has ever wanted out of life was to feel like she belonged in the family. So she approaches Mother Jilo in the hopes that she will help her cast a love spell to hide her feelings from Maisie's soon-to-be fiancee. She knows it's wrong, because Mother Jilo does not possess natural magic like the Taylors do. She tries to take it back, but Jilo cackles and Mercy knows that (for lack of a better term) something wicked this way comes.

Mercy's great-aunt Ginny is found murdered the next day. What happens for the remainder of the book is a series of events that keep you turning page after page. The families are now faced with finding someone to succeed Ginny in holding their part of the line. Mercy battles with her feelings between two men. Mercy goes back and forth to Mother Jilo, trying to discover truth and answers. The families descend upon Savannah to mourn the loss of Ginny and to help provide a little guidance to the turbulent Taylor family.

Mercy receives borrowed power for 1 day from her uncle Oliver, and discovers more truth in that borrowed time than she could ever have imagined. There's also two MAJOR plot twists at the end that help decide Mercy's fate...

This book was really easy to read. I enjoyed it because it is a book about mythical things, but set in a very real place that I've seen with my own eyes. It doesn't copy every other witch book either, and we all know there are plenty of those out there right now. The storyline was unique enough to keep me entertained throughout the whole book. I rated this book 3/5 stars on goodreads, mostly because I was in complete shock at the conclusion of the book.

6584188It's Not Summer Without You, Jenny Han - completed June 19, 2014

This is the second book of the trilogy by Jenny Han. This one I thought was a little better than the first. In this one, we meet up with Belly in the middle of her summer, but for once it's not at Cousins. She is stuck at home with her best friend Taylor. She attempts to make it a great summer despite not spending time with the Fishers, when she suddenly gets a call from the younger brother Jeremiah that Conrad (love of her life) has gone missing.

Jeremiah and Belly go on a little trip to attempt to find Conrad, all while wrestling with their feelings over the loss of Susannah. What I really liked about this book is that we got to see a little bit from Jeremiah's perspective intermittently. It was a nice little curve ball. The crazy thing about throwing this in there though, was that you could see that Jeremiah has loved Belly almost as long as Belly has loved Conrad. Totally cliche love triangle, but totally fitting into the story. Obviously, Jeremiah's feelings cause issues for all three of them.

Even though the triangle was cliche, it was a pretty good story still. Worth the read to continue Belly's story. Rated 4/5 stars on goodreads.

18108877Timebound, Rysa Walker - completed June 20, 2014

This is yet another book I picked up through amazon's kindle first. This one is a great story about time traveling.

I don't know how many of you are into time travel/sci-fi books, but this is a pretty decent young adult one for it. We meet Kate, whose eccentric grandmother comes around when she is either 15 or 16 and reveals to her that their family has a gene that allows them to time travel. However, Kate's grandfather and missing aunt have somehow gotten their hands on certain points of history, and have completely changed the timeline of the world.

Honestly, this book was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around at first. When Katherine (grandmother) first started explaining things and the CHRONOS key, it was very difficult for me to keep straight and understand. As the book continued to progress, I could follow the thoughts a lot better and actually began to enjoy it. And then it started making me think quite a bit.

My only big issue was that I felt Kate was too trusting throughout the entire book. I feel like if this time traveling thing were a real thing, she definitely should not be spilling her guts about anything that is going on. But all she does is spill spill spill. Despite that, I felt the book was very well written, just a couple hiccups with the spilling of the secrets. Rated it 3/5 on goodreads. Would have been 3.5 stars if that were a possibility.

11870085The Fault in Our Stars, John Green - completed June 21, 2014

Remember in my Q1 readings post I said that Hidden had shattered my soul a little bit? Yeah this one did too. But I'm sure I'm one of the last people on Earth that has read this, so I'm sure you don't need me to give a detailed summary about it. So here's the skinny:
Hazel Grace has cancer and meets an amazing guy named Agustus Waters at a Cancer support group. The entire book is full of their quick and strong romance. Of course, because they both have previously had cancer, you know something terrible is going to happen to their relationship.

What I loved most about this book is how they treated each other. Yes there were a few dark moments (like Cancer Perks), but for the most part they just lived in their own world of happiness. This book. This book is just horribly beautiful. Soul shattering. So wonderful. Definitely a must read. Especially if you want to see the movie (but I always prefer to read the book before seeing the movie.) I do love just how witty both the characters are. It was an awesome part of the book.

Also, I didn't cry. Trust me I wanted to, but I made myself stop, calm down a bit, then continued. It was just a beautiful book. Rated 5/5 stars on goodreads.

8680278We'll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han - completed June 22, 2014

This book rounded out the series of Summer books by Jenny Han. I thought this one was pretty good as well, but slightly over-dramatic. But I also know that's what happens when you follow the love life of a 19 year old.

It's been almost two years since we last saw Conrad, Jeremiah, and Belly. We learn that Belly and Jeremiah have been together this whole time, through Belly's first year in college. It's the last week, and we find out Jeremiah is not near as perfect as we think, and they get all crazy and decide to get married.

I can't say that I necessarily liked what happened between Belly and Jeremiah, but I guess everything worked out the way it was supposed to. It was a cute little YA series. Rated 4/5 stars on goodreads.

1274217Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff - completed June 25, 2014

I picked this one up from my library after seeing a couple of my college friends read and love this book. I had a sorority sister that had an internship at World Literature Today - a bi-monthy magazine about literature worldwide. One of their cover authors was Virginia Euwer Wolff, and the sorority sister read this series due to the interview featured in the magazine.

This was another young adult novel, told from Verna's point of view. Verna is bound and determined to go to college, to give herself a better life. She decides to get an after-school job, and calls Jolly, who posted a paper stating "BABYSITTER NEEDED BAD." The actual text is a little unconventional, and the lines are broken up into almost normal conversation. Jolly has two young children, and this story is a kind of coming-of-age story on all the hardships young mothers can face when they have children really young. Very easy to read, a little difficult to read, and a great story! Rated 5/5 stars on goodreads.

If anybody was keeping count, that is nine books I finished in the month of June. The reason for this? I didn't read any in April, and then I got dumped in May. So I guess I just decided I wanted to drown in books for the month of June. OBVIOUSLY, they were mostly young adult books, so it's not that big of an accomplishment, but I'm definitely glad to be reading constantly again. I may not finish that many books for Q3 because I decided that I wanted read the rest of the Game of Thrones series. I'm tired of being surprised at who gets killed!!

What books have you gotten into lately?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dear Friday

Here's just some things I think need to be recognized in today's edition of Friday's Letters (also know 'round these parts as Dear Friday):

Dear Friday: I know there's only 7 days between you and the next, but you truly are a Godsend every week.

Dear US Men's National Team: HOLY AMAZING!! You proved to all the world that you have the fight in you to come out of the Group of Death and advance to the knock out round! SO PROUD!!

Dear Soccer (Futbol) Haters: Just embrace it and be proud!

Dear NBA: You aren't as bad as I thought. I may have even cried a little. (If you don't know what I mean, go here. )

Dear Mallori: I'm a little ashamed of you (myself). SERIOUSLY?! TWO shirts is ALL you own that are red, white, and blue?! Shameful!

Dear Dogs I am Dog Sitting: If you wake me up at 3:40 am again, I may just give you away free to a good home.

Dear 9 Books I Finished in June: Thank you for letting me escape to ignore the pain of heartbreak. I forgot to be sad when I was last in your world. 

Dear Readers: Thank you so much for sticking around. It is my intention to continue chronicling my journey from here on out, no matter how "busy" I get our of I chose to days again. You guys rock! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Tunes

It's been a long time since I've done anything habitually over here, but I really wanted to do this post last week.

You see, I used to do this pretty regularly, but then I stopped doing anything regularly.

So this edition of Tuesday Tunes is brought to you by break up. These three songs have meant more to me in the last month and a half than you could imagine. Hope you enjoy!

1. A Little Bit Stronger - Sara Evans

2. Bartender - Lady Antebellum

3. Chainsaw - The Band Perry

I obviously like country. And these are definitely good ones to blare over and over. Trust me, I know by experience. Especially chain saw :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Q1 2014 Readings

Here is the first quarter readings, almost in time for second quarter! ha ha.

Pride & Prejudice,
 Jane Austen - completed January 6, 2014

I FINALLY finished this book! It only took me two years to finish!

I first picked this up trying to read it on my kindle, and I YAWNED almost the whole time. Seriously. SOOOOOO many people told me it was their favorite classic and that I should read it. BUT, most people also read this while they were in high school. I on the other hand, did not.

SO, what did I think. It was meh. I didn't LOOOOOVE it like so many of you did (I assume you did), but I didn't hate it either. It was just so-so. And I think I confused myself because I definitely thought Jane was going to be the main character. Well that's what I get for thinking.
You have sisters whose mother wants them all married off (as is normal for this time period). A father who is kind of cheeky, and a cousin(?) who is pushy and jerk. Then enter two men from a different part of the countryside and that's where I got my story confused because first it was Jane then it was all Lizzy (I think). AND I don't even know what to think about the officer that stole one of them away.
Anyways, glad it's over. Rated 3/5 stars on goodreads.

24770Uglies, Scott Westerfeld - completed January 22, 2014

I had read this book previously while my mother was an elementary teacher at a small school here in Oklahoma. I remember reading it and thinking it was pretty good, but not all that great. I attempted to read the second in the series (Pretties), but didn't make it too far before losing interest.

Throw in a couple years and many dystopian novels later, and I decided to go ahead and borrow them again from my mom and attempt to finish out the series. These are also set in a dystopian society, but I believe this books were a little ahead of their time. Dystopian novels definitely were not yet as popular as they are now.

These are interesting novels. In this first novel, we're introduced to Tally Youngblood, and a society that is obsessed with the idea of ugly vs pretty. Once the young people of the society come of age, each go through a surgery to make them pretty. Seems fair enough right? Then comes Shay. She turns Tally's thoughts upside down about "the surge." Soon Tally begins to question all things within her society thanks to Shay. The ending was a definite plot twist and cliffhanger, setting you up for Pretties perfectly.

Pretty easy read. 4/5 stars on goodreads.

24768Pretties, Scott Westerfeld - completed January 28, 2014

Book 2 of the series. I actually liked this book much better than Uglies upon completion. In this book, we learn that Tally has had the operation to become pretty. She is fitting along well into Prettyville until someone from her past arrives and turns her new world upside down (seems to be a common theme).

Once this happens, Tally is in constant struggle with trying to find herself, and trying to remember everything she learned in Uglies pertaining to the operation and the changes it makes to a person. You can definitely start to understand her inner struggle with finding herself.

The relationship between her and Zane is wonderful, and he is immensely supportive of everything crazy she thinks needs to be done in order to make them normal again. However, all these actions bring in Special Circumstances, a government agency that is thought to be only a rumor. Special Circumstances is headed by crazy Dr. Cable. But Tally's determination to find the truth behind the operations causes them to have Tally-and her friends-on their radar. Again, Westerfeld leaves this one on a cliffhanger, setting you up for Specials, book 3.
My issue with this is that these books require Tally to have a man around in order to "find herself." Can't we have a heroine be strong on her own? 5/5 stars on goodreads.

24765Specials, Scott Westerfeld - completed February 3, 2014

I liked this one least of the original trilogy. I just felt like Westerfeld put too much things for speculation between each book. Not much time passed between book 2 and book 3, but it was very confusing. We learn that Shay has banded together a group of people in trying to be more and more like Tally, but she is going about it all the wrong ways.

Because Dr. Cable likes this new power group, she has made them into a special group of Special Circumstances, headed by Shay. Shay is crazy about making sure that Tally knows she is in charge and though of more highly than Tally. They have made themselves kind of protectors over the town as well. 
Shay goes stupid crazy in the whole book. No wonder why Tally gets sick of her and ditches her.
Not the best of the original 3. The fourth book was written as a kind of after thought. Rated 3/5 stars on goodreads.

493456Extras, Scott Westerfeld - completed March 4, 2014

This one was just meh. It wasn't part of the author's original series, and it takes place quite some time after the end of the 3rd book, Specials. The way things work in this other Prettytown is that everything you do is based on your fame. Everyone has a personal camera attached and everyone is trying to earn more merits. This might be why I didn't find it near as interesting. The whole story is about a character named Aya. (It took me over half the book to realize that this world was either in China or Japan.) Enter Aya craving to be one of the most popular people in the world, where she stumbles across a secret that is bigger than she ever realized would be. Once she exposes this truth, she is put on the radar of all of the officials...including Tally Youngblood.

Tally then takes Aya and friends on the ride of their life to try to fix the problem. It was a good twist on a similar story, but I just felt like the storyline had been beaten like a dead horse--Tally tries to save humanity, someone or something gets in the way, then the whole world corrects itself just before it implodes. I was definitely glad to finish the series and move on to the next book. Rated 2/5 stars on goodreads.

18819296Hidden, Catherine McKenzie - completed March 6, 2014

I picked up this book from either February's or March's amazon first list. If you haven't subscribed to this yet, you should definitely look into it. Each month, amazon sends you an email of four books that you can buy for your kindle at a reduced price. These books are pre-releases, they won't be released to the public until the next month. It's an AWESOME deal if you have a kindle or the kindle app!

Anyways, I picked up this book, and honestly it shattered my soul JUST a little bit. The book starts off with Jeff getting tragically hit by a car on the way home from work one Friday. Two women in his life are completely devastated, his wife Claire and a coworker named Tish.

The book is told through three different points of view-Claire, Tish, and Jeff. Claire and Tish tell their story post-accident: how Jeff's death has affected both of these women. Jeff's point of view is told as more of a flashback of things that went on in each of their three's past. It was interjected just enough into the story that it provided great history to the story to where it made everything flow so much better.

The entire story made you wonder "did they or didn't they?" in regards to Jeff and Tish. They had great chemistry but it never really revealed whether or not they had an affair until the epilogue. And I will just let you decide if you want to read it or not. I hate spoiling endings. But it is definitely hard to put down. I WILL give you that. Rated 5/5 on goodreads.

17673271Si-Cology 101: Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favorite Uncle, Si Robertson with Mark Schlabach - completed March 29

If you are a fan of Duck Dynasty, this one is a fun semi-autobiography. Uncle Si is my favorite character, so it was great to read more about his personal life, his family, and his faith. He talked about his early life-the trouble he and Phil used to get into as kids and what it was like growing up in Louisiana.

You can definitely tell that he is a man of faith, as he also talks about how he found Christ and how he tries to live a life living for Him. He does admit that it hasn't always been easy (like any Christian would), but he still tries to do his best to serve.

He also talks about his children and how it was raising them, and the difficulties he and his wife had while he was in the military. It's also told in a language that is just like the way Si talks on the show. It's definitely a good read if you're a fan of the show. RAted 4/5 stars on goodreads.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I promise I'm not going anywhere!

I have a lot more to say than my last semi-depressing post! I have just been keeping myself so busy that I haven't quite had the chance to catch up!

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend two concerts. That's right people, TWO!! Bruno Mars last Wednesday with my momma (amazing) and then I traveled to Oklahoma City for Backstreet Boys on Friday (double amazing).

The only issue with me keeping myself busy is that I haven't had time to pull the pictures off my phone to be able to upload here. So for now, just know that my middle school dreams came true with being able to see BSB in concert. I could have died after the concert and it would have been a life well lived! (I wish I could say I was joking.)

Last week was also my roommate's birthday, so that is another reason why I have been busy. Then we are planning a float trip this weekend. Life is freaking amazing right now.

Tonight I have my weekly beach volleyball game, so this is just a quick update to let you know I'm still here. I've also been working on a "what I've read lately post" that is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. Be looking for that soon!