Review: The Bungalow

Hi friends! I hope those of you celebrating had a lovely holiday weekend! I’ve been busy with family, and sneaking away to read The Bungalow by Sarah Jio (the same author of The Violets of march.

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the book. When I worked in publishing, one of my responsibilities was to mail those out, so it was exciting to be on the receiving end for once.

20111226-102045.jpg

From Goodreads: In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

Wow. Just wow. This book is amazing! I’ve been looking forward to it since I read Violets. Sarah is just an amazing author. She has such an elegant writing style, and truly brings her characters to life and transports you directly into the story.

I loved the era in which the book took place, it was realistic and the characters were so appropriate.

I feel like no matter how I write this review all I really want to say is OMG read this book, it’s amazing!

Like Violets, there are a few story lines that beautifully wound together. I just can’t stop gushing about this book!

It’s on sale tomorrow, and I highly recommend it 🙂

As the new year approaches I am doing some blog housekeeping and I am thinking instead of “reviews,” making a virtual book club. It’s always been a goal of mine to have more of a discussion because I don’t really like feeling like I am “giving away” the plot. I’d rather read and discuss. Thoughts?

Review: Kathy Reichs Virals Series

Hi there! I hope that you are all having a good day. Thanks for your tips/encouragement on my last post. I took it easy on my legs yesterday, and we will see how they feel this evening when I do my scheduled 2 miles. Although I just looked outside. It might be another gym day. I am going to leave the phone at home this time 🙂

Earlier today I had a bit of a panic attack about the half marathon. I started second guessing myself, thinking I wasn’t going to be ready, and it’s all my fault because I am not doing enough to get ready. I tried talking myself out of it, but it just got worse and worse, so I emailed my training buddy, Erin, and she talked me down 🙂

——————————————————————————————————————–

A few months ago I attended a book signing for Seizure by Kathy Reichs and it recently dawned on me I never posted a review! If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, then you know how obsessed I am with Kathy Reichs’ other series, the Temperance Brennan Novels (the books on which the TV show Bones is loosely based), so I was so excited when I heard she came out with a young adult series.

In the first book of the series, Virals you are introduced to the main character, Tory Brennan. Temperance’s great niece (her nephew’s daughter he didn’t know about until recently. Tory’s mother just happened to have the same last name as Tempe. Kind of confusing) Tory recently moved in with her dad who works out at a research center on an island. The series takes place in South Carolina.

Tory and her three best friends (whose parents work with her father, and they all live near each other) are somewhat outcasts at the high school they attend, and their social, economical, and physical isolation from the rest of their classmates gives them a strong bond.

One day out at the research facility they are exposed to a virus that changes their DNA, making them even more different than their peers. I am not going to go into it because really, it’s not possible to sum it up without making it sound ridiculous. I’ve tried, but take my word for it isn’t zombies and vampires, and it’s a very scientific twist, which is exactly what you would expect from this author.

In the second novel, Seizure, Tory and her friends have a big problem, find millions of dollars to keep the lab where their parents work going, or they will be split up, forced to deal with their new genetic developments on their own. So they embark on an exciting treasure hunt, filled with treasure maps, underground trails, and being chased by a gunman.

This book is better than the first, it’s an excellent blend of fantasy, science, and mystery. I really wish that we had books like this when I was a “young adult” (although I have zero shame in reading them now).  

An added bonus, much like Dan Brown’s novels, these chapters are really short and make you feel really smart because you can say “Oh yeah, I read 9 chapters last night.” They are clearly made for young adults. Something I thought would be hard for someone like Kathy Reichs who usually writes such fact-based and scientific fiction. She does write them with her son, so I think that there is a good balance for a younger audience.

These would make a great gift for any high school or college age avid readers who enjoy fiction, or for any adult like me who just loves reading YA lit 🙂

Review: Night Circus (and I met one of my fave authors last night!)

Hi friends! I hope that your day is lovely. It is a gorgeous day here, even if it is chilly, I just call that good running weather!

Last night I went to Kathy Reichs’s book signing at the library, SO much fun! Lots of talking about the Temperance Brennan novels, as well as her young adult series which features Tempe’s niece Tory (which she co-writes with her son, very cool!) (review of that series to come when I finish my new signed copy of the newest installment). She even talked a little about the new season of Bones; all around it was a lot of fun!

Kathy is a lucky lady and gets to sit and look amazing while the rest of us who may or may not have come from working out have to bend over and look awkward (just be grateful that I was conscious enough not to give you a shot of the ladies). I am SO glad that King’s English Bookshop brought her out, and I am looking forward to heading out to a lot more events like this in my area!

Onward to a new review! I finished Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern a few weeks ago, it was one of those books you don’t want to end, and want to reread almost instantly.

I was 100% enthralled and captivated by the story and the beautiful way in which Ms. Morgenstern truly brings the circus to life. The entire book from start to finish is just… enchanting.

I was going to put in a summary from either GoodReads or the author’s website, but both give away a big element I wish I hadn’t known before I read the book. So, I am going to break away from my usual review format to keep you in suspense! 

This book popped up on my radar a few times over the last few months and I couldn’t wait for it to come out. I read some early reviews, and I knew I would enjoy it. 

Full of magic and fantasy, the book takes place in the late 1800s, early 1900s, all around the world but mainly in London and the circus itself (which travels a lot). The author does a great job of creating a wonderful fantasy-like backdrop for the storyline while still being true to the era in which it is set. Like I said, the circus comes to life as you read.

One aspect that I didn’t like was that the chronology was not linear. Which I am usually 50/50 about in general, but in this book I wasn’t a huge fan, BUT I think that it was mainly because I read it on my nook, which makes it harder to flip back a few pages to double check which year/location you are in.  

Other than that tiny aspect, I absolutely loved it and I already want to read it again and again.

Have you read this book yet? What are you reading now?

I am going to start reading Seizure by Kathy Reichs as soon as I get back from my run today, can’t wait!

Mental Roadblocks

Good morning! Stay tuned for Parts 3 and 4 of my Easy Meal Series, I thought I’d break it up a bit. I hope that you are having a lovely week so far! I’m tired and cold, but good. I had a great run yesterday, which was preceded by a great weight workout. I am seriously LOVING running in the fall weather after work (before work it’s dark and freezing outside, literally) so much.

So now that I am at a good run/walk pace for about 3 miles. I’ve noticed that I am becoming fairly compliant with my pace and distance, and finding far too many excuses to skip workouts. I need to keep pushing myself, and I know this, but really, it comes down to a mental thing. I am scared of what comes next because it’s entirely new territory. The farthest I’ve EVER run is 4ish miles, I usually get to about a 3 mile zone and just keep at the same pace and run/walk pattern.

As I am sure you know, this can’t continue if I am going to complete a half marathon. So my goal for November is to push myself just a little bit more each run. I want to get to comfortably running 3 or 4 miles (without extended walking breaks) by the end of the month, because shortly after that, I am going to begin my official training plan for my half.

I am terrified/excited but I am trying to focus more on the excited. Every time I head out on a run, I come back feeling a sense of accomplishment (and those endorphins are no joke) and I know that if I am good about following my plan, I will get to where I need to be for the race.

How do you deal with mental roadblocks in your exercise or training goals?

WIAW + How I Cook Spaghetti Squash

Hi lovlies!! It’s Wednesday!!! You know what that means!

Let’s get down to brass tacks (anyone know the origin of that saying?).

Breakfast was an egg white scramble with a turkey sausage patty (at the cafeteria at work). They finally know the more veggies the better, and to use the spray not the “butter” or whatever it is they use usually. Score!

Lunch was a salad with chicken, cucumber, mango salsa, and a 100 calorie flatbread. Have you seen these? They are like a cross between a pita and a tortilla, I love them!

Snack was a Sun Warrior protein drink with almond milk. And water. Always water.

Snack 2.0 was after my run, I knew I needed something to hold me over till dinner. Some pretzels, a Crystal Light Pure, and a new library book on the side.

Dinner was a (small) spaghetti squash with a bit of butter, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. On top was a chicken, feta, and spinach sausage. Yummy in my tummy!

Never had a spaghetti squash? This is how I make it:

1. CAREFULLY cut the squash in half lengthwise. Don’t do this (it was stuck and my husband bad to literally break it apart to get the knife out):
2. Scoop out the seeds. 
3. Fill a baking dish with about 1/4 inch of water, place the squash halves in cut side down. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees until soft. About 45 minutes depending on the size of the squash. (I hate undercooked squash, so I always make mine nice and tender.)
4. Remove from the oven and take off the baking dish to cool for a bit. Once you can safely handle it (or use an oven mitt) use a fork to make “spaghetti” by gently scraping out the flesh.

If you don’t have 45 minutes, or you have a microwave (we don’t), or you want a more in-depth tutorial with pictures, check out Janetha’s tutorial post

What are you eating today? Have you had spaghetti squash before? Love it or hate it?

Check out an amazing running shoe giveaway on Janae’s blog Hungry Runner Girl. If you haven’t checked our her blog, regardless of the giveaway, you should. She’s amazing and has such a fun blog, and I pretty much want to be her new BFF 🙂  

Lost Forever and a New Read!

OK maybe I am being a bit of a drama queen, but I wrote a post today on my lunch break, saved it as a draft, came home to finalize and post, and it’s not here anymore!!!

I am not going to lie to you all, I don’t have the mental power to redo it right now and I am still holding out hope that the draft may still be retrievable from my work computer.

I am proud because I totally rocked my run today! Check it out:

On average, that’s a minute faster than my run last week (I did just over 2 miles). Win! After my run I walked past the library to pick up a book I had on hold (sorry library patrons who had to smell me post run and view my ridiculously red face and sweaty glory, I really do feel bad about that).

I got the Complete Book of Women’s Running by Dagny Scott Barrios the updated version. I want to read a few running books, and I thought that this would be a good place to start. I am actually reading the Night Circus right now and loving it, so get ready for some new book reviews coming up!!

Time to get some dinner cooking and get ready for some Biggest Loser!!

Oh, question. Do any of you get super cold after a workout? It happens to me more often than not. I have goosebumps right now, it’s crazy. 

Fall Into Fitness Sunday

Good morning lovelies!! To those of you visiting from my guest post on Tina’s blog welcome!! If you are interested in reading more about me, check out my About Me post and my My Journey post. I’m also training for a half marathon, if you want to read my plan about that.

For those of you who haven’t seen, I did a guest post on Tina’s blog Faith, Fitness, Fun about putting things into perspective for her self-love reflection series.

Because of my little cold this week I’ve fallen a bit behind in my posts, and I completely forgot to do my Fall Into Fitness update! So alliteration aside, welcome to my Fall Into Fitness Sunday post :). For past Fall Into Fitness posts see here (the intro), here, and here.

Last week I put out some goals for the weekend:

  1. Hit the pavement twice. I did this! Not this weekend though, I still can’t breathe through my nose, today I am thinking a nice long walk is in order.
  2. Do some blog organizing and planning. I still haven’t updated my my pages, but that is happening today for sure. My guest posts are well under way and I am so excited!
  3. Make a list of must-read books. I started on this, and then I bought Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I just can’t put it down!
Instead of weekend goals, I am going to stretch them out to week-long goals, so here are mine for the week:
  1. Stick to my training schedule. I am falling more and more behind in my training plan for my 5K, and getting sick didn’t help one bit. I am fired up about the race (on the 15th) and I am just going to use it as a chance to challenge myself and push myself to see what I can do.
  2. Continue meal planning and making meals ahead of time. This is a huge aspect of helping me meet my goals, neglecting to plan my meals for the week (generally, I am not crazy about it like I used to be, check out my grocery shopping post for more info on that) really makes it hard to stay consistent with my healthy eats.
  3. Take time to disconnect and truly relax. This is something I really need to focus on. No more iPhone blog checks before bed, no more checking work emails before I hit the hay. I want to create a technology free zone for at least 30 minutes before I go to bed. I am hoping this will help me sleep better and feel like I am having some “me” time.
How is your fall going so far? Any new plans? Races coming up? Events? Special goals?

Fall Into Fitness Fridays

Happy first official day of fall everyone! How fitting that it fell on the same day as my Fall Into Fitness update? Look at this, the leaves on the tree outside our house are starting to change! So exciting!

I’ve had quite the week here I must say. Everything just kind of happened somewhat last minute, and I am just exhausted. Most weeks if I know that this is going to happen I prewrite some posts on the weekend, but I kind of dropped the ball on that one. If you fail to plan you plan to fail, right? It also doesn’t help that the two posts I did have ready to go we having technical difficulties, and I just didn’t have the time to sort them out. So yeah. Sorry. I am really noticing that as my life gets busier I need to be more organized and plan ahead. No longer are the days where I was working three days a week and could nap the rest of the days away and fit in fitness and other things at my leisure.

Oh my ChaLEAN Extreme came yesterday!!! I was so sad when I got an email saying that it wouldn’t be here till the 28th (sad day). Then Kim looked it up, and said it might be the 24th, then I got home and there it was! I was quite excited. The Hot by Halloween Challenge starts on MONDAY, so I am so glad it is here! I need to send in my measurements this weekend, can you tell I am putting it off? But I am excited for the before and after info J

Last week I set out three goals for the weekend, and I think I did a pretty good job of meeting them. Let’s review, shall we?

  1. Workout at least once. Done and done. I went for a run on Sunday morning first thing, and it was great!
  2. Try a new recipe/prep some meals for the week. I made two new recipes last week. One was for a guest post coming up in a few, the other was the soup recipe I posted earlier this week. I really wish that I could convey my obsession with this soup over the internet. It. Was. So. Good.
  3. Print out my training schedule. So I made my schedule, but I didn’t print it yet. One, because we were having issues getting power to our “office” and two because I wanted to include the ChaLEAN workouts on there. My running workouts are already planned out until the half marathon though.

So, what should my goals be for this weekend….?

  1. Hit the pavement twice. I skipped a run for a very good reason this week (more on that below), so I want to go out later this afternoon and Sunday morning again (I love how quite Sunday mornings are, it’s a great time to get out).
  2. Do some blog organizing and planning. In addition to my regular scheduled rambling, I have three guest posts coming up, and I really need to update my pages to have the most up-to-date links on them. Oh and I have a great idea for a new banner, but I need to see if it will actually look cool, or totally lame.
  3. Make a list of must-read books. I have a few random lists on my phone or computer or nook, but I still feel like I am always wondering what I should read next. I would love suggestions! I requested the books that The Game of Thrones is based on at the library for my nook, I watched season 1 on demand, and it was good!

I INTERUPT THIS POST TO BRING YOU AN EMBARASSING STORY. OK, I had to share this. I am at my desk right now with a cup of water with a lid and straw and a to-go cup of coffee. Welllll, I just put my head down with my tongue out trying to find my straw. Too bad it was my coffee. I am really glad I am alone right now.

One other thing I would like to do is a little shopping especially for new workout pants. Let me explain why I skipped my run yesterday. On Tuesday I was running and it was going great. Just as I started my last running segment of my workout, I felt a weird pain on my inner thigh. I didn’t really think much of it, but when I hopped in the shower to destink myself, it HURT. Yeah, I had a pretty intense chafing incident. And it’s not healing well because it’s not like I can’t wear pants at work (how is that for casual Fridays? Hahahaha) and I didn’t have a large enough bandaid for it until I went to the store yesterday. Fine call me a wimp if you will, but if you don’t believe me that this is horrible, then scrape off some skin on your inner/upper thigh where a seam of your pants will always hit it no matter what you wear, and then we can talk about the pain you experience every. Single. Step. It’s feeling a lot better today, and I saw that the culprit was some fraying on the seam of my favorite running capris (I got them on sale from Nike a few years ago for $20) so I am thinking it might be time to replace them.

What are YOU doing this weekend? How are your Fall Into Fitness goals coming along?

Fall Into Fitness

While for some people the decline in temperature means the end of the wonderful warm summer and gearing up for a dreary winter ahead. Me? No way! I honestly think I might have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I get very cranky during the summer. Very cranky. I really hate being overheated (I almost put I hate being hot, but who are we kidding 😉 haha).

Fall is already on it’s way, I can feel and see the wonderful changes on their way. Just this evening my husband took me outside to show me that some of our trees are starting to turn. Amazing! Now I am pretty much classifying this as my first “real” fall. Where I grew up in California we had cooler months starting in October, but when I moved farther south, that declined considerably. Now that I am in Utah I am excited for the full experience.

So, I welcome you to my Fall Into Fitness series! I feel so invigorated by the upcoming season. Running outside, enjoying the beautiful scenery and not having to worry about going before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m.? I’m sold! Warm yummy meals without feeling like I am going to melt in the kitchen? Heaven!

So the plan? It’s simple: Take advantage of the wonderful weather and the change of the seasons to put a little spark in my fire (which has been dwindling lately my friends, dwindling!). In reads recipes runs fashion, I’ve broken them into my three fave categories.

reads – I am excited to curl up with a great book with a cup of tea and snuggle with a blanket. I am kind of scattered with my reads right now, but I am having so much fun with my nook. I also really want to read a book about running. Any suggestions?

recipes – Most of my favorite produce is a product of fall. (Except apples, I need to do a post to introduce you all to my aversion to apples.) Sweet potatoes, mushrooms, pumpkin, butternut squash… swoon! The best part is that there are SO MANY ways to enjoy fall flavors in a light, healthy way. This is also soup season, and soup is literally my favorite! Especially broth-based soups. Expect some heart warming, but waste friendly, recipes in the following months.

runs – It’s cooling off finally and it’s amazing. I definitely want to take advantage of running outside while I can (I don’t see this happening often once it starts snowing, let’s be honest). I finally sorted out the gym membership debacle at work, so we can go get our memberships back.

Like I mentioned in my post last week, I really wanted something to bring me out of my funk, and I think that my Fall Into Fitness plan is just the way to go about it!

Want to join me? Tell me about your fall fitness plans below (they can be food related, workout related and as big or as little as you want, they also don’t need to be new either) and we can have check-ins every Friday. How’s Fall Into Fitness Fridays sound? Hows that for alliteration!?

What is your favorite season?

Versatile Blogger Award

Hello there! Sorry to leave you hanging the past few days. I’ve been somewhat unplugged. This is the first time I’ve been on my computer for days, and it’s been kind of great. I am pretty exhausted for some reason, I am hoping that I snap back to my old self soon, otherwise I don’t see this week going well… I’m feeling pretty ridiculous. I can’t focus, I am tired, and just blah.

So again, sorry, sometimes you just need a break.

The lovely Sarah over at Simply Dove gave me The Versatile Blogger Award. So sweet! Sarah is great and so is her blog. We “met” through the FitBlog chat that happens on Tuesdays. It’s a great way to connect with people in the blogging world, both bloggers and readers alike.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs.

So, my seven things (each are going to be related to reads, recipes, or runs, since that’s how I roll):

  • I got a nook for my birthday and I can’t put it down!
  • I got new running shoes today. Salt Lake Running Co. was amazing, I was super happy with the service, and I can’t wait to get running on them.
  • I love buying new cookbooks, but I rarely cook directly from a recipe. I am more of a improviser.
  • As a kid, my friend and I would hang out and read our books together. I have a picture somewhere… it’s awesome.
  • I finally told my mom about the half marathon, and I kind of think that she doesn’t think I am going to do it.
  • I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open right now, and it’s not even 7 p.m.
  • Totally random, but I can’t find any of our can openers since the move. Not great since like half of my planned meals involve the cans of beans in the cabinet.
Now I get to tag some newly discovered blogs (to me at least, in no order):

It All Changes…
The Italian Housewife
Beth’s Journey
Sorey Fitness  (this is a mother-daughter blogging team, so they each get an award)
reRun Running (this is a sister team, so they also each get an award)
Twelve in Twelve
The Big Personality of a Little Vegan
Back Road Journal 

I hope you are all enjoying the last bit of your long weekend!