Hey guys, here’s today sad excuse for a blog post! A book haul! Sorry for the lack on content lately, work has just been crazy busy the last couple months (and I do most of my blogging while at work lol – don’t tell ūüėČ ). But hopefully I’m back… like I don’t say that every time I come back from a short hiatus lol.

Since I want to do more book related posts, along with the travel posts of course, I decided to do my February book haul. I bought a shit ton of books – excuse my language, in the month of February and I’m excited to share them with you!

Also – stay tuned for some Europe related posts! I am starting to plan our itineraries!! 4 and a half more months! I can’t stop using explanation posts! ¬†!!!!!

Okay, here comes the book haul.


Hey guys! Here's my February 2017 Book Haul - all the books I purchased! I'm very excited to read all of these.

 

February Book Haul


How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

“It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit.
By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.
But what happens when Johanna realizes¬†she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?”

I just finished reading this book and OH MY GOD, I loved it. I loved it so much. I’ve been wanting this book for a year now and I’m so happy I decided to pick it up. If you like bad-ass women and rude humor, this is the book for you.


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special‚ÄĒand how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.”

I just read this one as well and ehhhhh. I actually didn’t finish this – I made it 51% of the way through. It couldn’t keep my attention and the vocabulary kept throwing me off. However, I think I just wasn’t in the right mindset for it and I know I’ll pick it up again in the future. Either way, I’m glad I finally own it.


Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

“Today is Leonard Peacock‚Äôs birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather‚Äôs P-38 pistol.
But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.
In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made‚ÄĒand the light in us all that never goes out.”

I loved The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick so I wanted to read something else by him. Naturally, the summary of this one caught my eye so I decided to buy. I’m very excited to get to this one, I hope I love just as much as The Silver Linings Playbook.


Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel 

“A harrowing story of breakdowns, suicide attempts, drug therapy, and an eventual journey back to living, this poignant and often hilarious book gives voice to the high incidence of depression among America’s youth. A collective cry for help from a generation who have come of age entrenched in the culture of divorce, economic instability, and AIDS, here is the intensely personal story of a young girl full of promise, whose mood swings have risen and fallen like the lines of a sad ballad.”

Memoirs about mental health and addictions are like my guilty pleasure. My favorite one is Smashed by Koren Zailckas so I was looking for others that are similar and I found this. I mean, I’ve seen the movie but I didn’t know it was book so I am very happy to own it now.


Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

“In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele — Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles — as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.
Kaysen’s memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a “parallel universe” set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.”¬†

Same story as Prozac Nation, I was looking for more mental health memoirs to read. I actually haven’t seen the movie for this one yet but I’ll probably watch it after finishing this book.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

“Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweler, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.”

I’m currently reading this one right now – I’m about 28% of the way through and it is SO GOOD so far. I keep having to put it down because LIFE but when I pick it back up, it’s like I didn’t even put it down. That’s a good sign to me.


Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

“With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man — also named Jonathan Safran Foer — sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior; and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.”

I’ve heard great things about this one so I wanted to pick it up as well. I’m hopeful for it since I’m enjoying¬†Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close so much.


Bloodletting: A Memoir of Secrets, Self-Harm, and Survival by Victoria Leatham

On the outside, she appears to have it all. She’s creative, beautiful, confident. But inside Victoria Leatham struggles with silent, secret, and unbearable pain. In her late teens, Leatham is struck with an undeniable urge to cut herself. Oddly, the wounds she inflicts on herself mute the pain she feels inside.
This memoir, a darkly humorous and often chilling account, vividly details Leatham’s ordeal and reveals her most intimate thoughts as she struggles with cutting and a range of other psychological problems including eating disorders, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and bipolar disorder. And finally, it describes her discovery of the psychological secret that helps her escape from this spiral of self-destruction.”

I think I thought this book was something else when I bought it but it still sounds interesting, so I’m okay with that.


Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S King

“Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn’t ask for a father who never got over it. He didn’t ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn’t ask to be the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
But Lucky has a secret–one that helps him wade through the mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos–the prison his grandfather couldn’t escape–where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It’s dangerous and wild, and it’s a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?”

I recently read Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and I loved it so much that I just had to buy as many of her books that I could get my hands on. I also read Reality Boy a couple years ago as well (and loved it) so I think A.S King is a must read author for me.


Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S King

“Vera‚Äôs spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she‚Äôs kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone‚ÄĒthe kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?”

No explanation needed for this one!


Ask The Passengers by A.S King

“Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.
As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.”

This one also doesn’t need an explanation – I can’t wait to binge read all of her books. I also want to read more LGBTQ+ novels because while I don’t identify as such, it’s very important to read more diversely. Especially with the current state of the US. It’s kind of like a big “fuck you” to Trump. If you have some good LGBTQ+ books, let me know in the comments below. Or really any book that’s more diverse!


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald‚Äôs third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted ‚Äúgin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,‚ÄĚ it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.”

I’ve never read this before because it never was a part of my required reading for school. One of my goals for this year is to read more classics. Since this is super short, I’m gonna start with this one.


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.”

I know virtually nothing about this book besides what you’ve read above. But it sounds right up my alley so I hope I enjoy it!


An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

“Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby’s and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights–and, at times, the dark lows–of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.”

I also know nothing about this book lol oops. But the plot summary sounds quite interesting and similar to How To Build A Girl so I’m hopefully.


So that’s my February book haul! I purchased all of these books used from Thrift Books¬†for only around $45!! Which is so insane. This isn’t sponsored by them but I do highly recommend you check them out!

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The Azrael Initiative was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A book review of The Azrael Initiative by K Hanson.

The Azrael Initiative by K Hanson

Self-Published
Pages: 308
Genre(s): Thriller, Action & Adventure
Rating: 4/5


Best friends Kayla Falk, an engineering student, and Olivia Bellamy, who is studying nursing, are nearing the end of their college career when terrorists attack their university. Through a combination of cleverness, bravery, and luck, the two manage to foil the deadly plot. A mysterious man from the United States government, Mr. Hightower, sees their potential and attempts to recruit Kayla and Olivia for a program to take on ISIS. They initially refuse, but another terrorist attack that strikes close to home pushes them to change their minds and join the Azrael Initiative.

After several months of hard training, the two women are dropped into Al-Raqqah, the capital of ISIS, in Syria. Once there, they must blend in with the locals as they strike from the shadows to kill ISIS leaders, destroy their facilities, and free captives. As Americans deep within enemy territory, they know that they will be killed if discovered. As women, they also know that they would suffer before death. Walking the line between vengeance and justice strains their relationship. As they work to resolve their differences, the symphony of brutality around them ultimately pushes them closer together and forges them into the warriors that they were meant to become.


The Azrael Initiative

This isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick up but when author approached me about reviewing an advanced copy, I couldn’t say no. The premise is great – two badass females who take on¬†ISIS after an attack on their college. I devoured it and I can honestly say that I can’t wait for the sequel… and this book isn’t even released yet.

However, that being said, there a couple of small things that prevented me from giving this book 5/5 stars:

  • The dialogue between the characters was a little too formal and struggled to¬†flow naturally.
  • I don’t think it’s very realistic that the main characters could become fluent in Arabic / become highly skilled operatives over the course of just a few months.

Besides those two¬†things, I found the book super addicting. I wanted to know what happens and struggled to put it down. Though I predicted the plot twist, I was so happy it ended up like that because it makes a great segue¬†into the sequel. Also, I loved the powerful and refreshing friendship between the two main characters. It was a really fun read and I’m very excited to see what else the authors comes up with.

I think my favorite line from the book sums it up quite nicely:

“we are not some wilting flowers”

Overall, I highly recommend you pick this book up. Especially if you like thrillers and non-stop adventures. And badass female characters.

The Azrael Initiative is released on March 3 of this year.

Thanks again to the author for gifting me this copy. Visit the authors’ website here.


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Hey friends! I hate this time of the year – specifically January / February / March. There’s nothing to look forward to and it’s cold and miserable. And while I really don’t like “New Year Resolutions”, I decided it’d be fun to go along with the bandwagon and share my “resolutions.” Heck, maybe I’ll even stick to most of them. Keep reading to discover some of my 2017 resolutions!


My 2017 resolutions!

My 2017 Resolutions

Read More

In 2017, I want to read more in generally. In 2016, I only read 13 books. That’s the least amount of books I have read in a year since I could read. In 2015, I read over 100 books! I had a year long book slump and it was quite depressing. Reading has always been a very important part of my life so I am determined to read more.
This year will probably be a bit busier than usual – I am planning my wedding after all! Plus, in August, we’ll be going on a two week backpacking trip across Europe. So I won’t have as much time as I did this last year. But I’ll make it work somehow.


Read More Classics

This one ties in with my first resolution – I want to read more classics. I read a fair few in high school and while I enjoyed some, I was really put off by them. Now, I’m older and more mature (sometimes), I think it’s time I give them all a second chance. I think I’m going to start off with The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas since I’ve heard of amazing things about it and it’s been on my shelf for a few years now. I want to read Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, Pride and Prejudice, Animal Farm.. you get the idea. So for one of my many 2017 resolutions, I want to become even more well read.


Blog More

This blog kind of took the back burner this last year. It was unintentional but nonetheless, there was no good reason for it. So I’m making it as much as a priority I can. Again, I am planning my wedding and going backpacking around Europe for 2 weeks (which will make some great blog posts though!) so I won’t have as much time as I did last year but again, I will make it work!


Explore More

I’m going to be exploring a shit ton (pardon my French) more this year then ever. With a two week backpacking trip around Europe (have I mentioned that before? I don’t think I have..) coming up in August, I’m going to be exploring places I’ve only ever dreamed of. I’m SO EXCITED.


Paint More

I love painting. And I think I’m pretty good at it. In 2015, I decorated mine and my fiance’s home wall to wall with paintings. In 2016, I painted nothing. Well, this year I’m going to paint more. It’s a great creative outlet – and I know I’ll need one this year.


Stop Biting My Nails

I’m putting this one in here in hopes that I will actually stick to it. I actually did stop biting my nails for a good month this past summer, but obviously, I didn’t stick through it. So maybe this year I will. Who knows.


What are some of your 2017 resolutions?

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Book review on Wildflower by Drew BarrymoreWildflower by Drew Barrymore

Published By: Dutton
Pages: 288
Genre(s): Auto-Biography, Memoir, Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5
Purchase it here for free shipping!


Wildflower is a portrait of Drew’s life in stories as she looks back on the adventures, challenges, and incredible experiences of her earlier years. It includes tales of living on her own at 14 (and how laundry may have saved her life), getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross country road trip, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood, and many more adventures and lessons that have led her to the successful, happy, and healthy place she is today. It is the first book Drew has written about her life since the age of 14.


I think I fell in love.

I was first captivated by that beautiful cover (I mean, look at it!) and immediately put it on my wishlist. As luck would have it, I received it for Christmas and immediately spent two days devouring it Рthe first book that kept my attention that long all year.. stupid reading slump. But this was exactly what I needed to get over that slump!

It was funny and sad and positive and somehow so relatable.

The stories jump around and are randomly arranged, which is¬†a bit confusing, but it also fits with Drew’s free-spirited style. It felt personal – like she had told you this story in person.

If you haven’t read this, you really should. This is the first book review I’ve properly posted in over a year! If that doesn’t tell you anything, I don’t know what will.

 

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase an item through this link, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks!

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Hey friends! I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time. I used to loooove flying but for the last couple years, I’ve started having anxiety attacks before and during a flight. Almost every flight I’ve been on lately, I’ve been in tears because I’m so scared. And there’s been no particular incident that has caused me to be scared of flying so it’s very strange to me. Anyways, I decided it’s about time to write a post on how to fly despite being scared of flying. Because no matter how scared I am, I still manage to get on the plane and get to my destination. Keep reading!


 

I have nightmares about flying starting about a week before my flight.. I am a classic case of being scared to fly. Here's my tips on how to fly despite being scared of flying. These are things that help me over and over again.


How To Fly Despite Being Scared Of Flying


Book The Best Seat

Turbulence is what scares me the most. The second the plane starts to¬†shake a little, I instantly have visions of the plane falling out of the sky and crashing to Earth and blowing up. It’s not pleasant. And while I know that turbulence is nothing to be scared of and it doesn’t mean the airplane will fall out of the sky, that logic goes out on the window when I am 35,000 feet above the ground.

But believe it or not, where you seat on a plane actually has a lot to do about how much turbulence you feel. I always always always try to book our seats right on the wings. When I sit over the wings, I can barely feel the turbulence and my flight is exponentially better. The worst place to sit is at the back of the plane and 11/10 times I’m in tears during a flight if I sit in the back because the turbulence feels like 1000x worse in the back.

So, moral of the story: Book a seat over the wings and avoid the back of the plane.


Listen To Music / Read A Book

The second I get settled into my seat, I put on my noise reducing headphones and open up Spotify and play either¬†Aurora’s album or whatever else I happen to be the mood for. I turn up the volume loud enough that it drowns out the sounds of the plane (I tend to over-focus on every sound the plane makes because I think it means it’s gonna fall from the sky) and quiet enough to not give me a headache. Also, I tend to bring a couple books with me (yes, I’m one of those people) and will crack one open to keep me occupied for the flight. I’ll also play games on my phone if I can’t focus on the book. By doing these things, time goes by way faster and I’m less focused on my surroundings – which normally isn’t a good thing, but in this case……..


Take A Sleeping Pill

Not the best advice but hear me out. If I’m on a longer flight, I will take a sleeping pill about 30 minutes before boarding and I will sleep (9/10 times) the whole flight. It’s my own personal miracle worker. I put in my headphones, slip on an eye-mask (I have this blackout one I purchased from Amazon, I couldn’t live without. You can find it here), and the next thing I know – I’m at my destination!

I wish I had done this on my flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles (the flight was too short to take a sleeping pill) because that was some of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced – we flew straight into a storm somewhere over Nebraska… I’ll write a separate blog post on that story though..


We Recommend Reading: Los Angeles Travel Guide

Hold Someone’s Hand

This is a tip for if you’re traveling with someone. I’ve never flown alone before so I apologize if this tip isn’t as helpful. During takeoff, bouts of turbulence, and landing – I have a death grip on my fiance’s hand. He hates it and I don’t blame him, but there’s something so calming about it. I’m still freaking out, yes, but I would freak out even more if I wasn’t holding his hand. Silly logic but it works for me.


Well, there’s some of my tips for how to fly despite being scared of flying! If you have any tips, please let me know down below!! I will be forever grateful. Happy holidays!


Read Next: Coming Soon!

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Hey friends! My trip to Europe is coming closer and closer so I’m starting to think about all the stuff I gotta do before we leave. And I thought, why not write a blog post about it? There’s a ton of stuff besides just packing that you need / should do before you leave. So, keep reading to find out what to do before your next vacation!


What to do before your next vacation? Keep reading for some helpful tips and tricks to help you feel less stressed before you jet off!

What To Do Before Your Next Vacation


Clean Your Home

For me personally, cleaning my house before we leave for a trip is the most important thing I can do. I’m a neat freak and I love coming home after a trip to a clean house. It’s one of my top ten favorite feelings. Before we leave, I will make sure all the laundry is washed¬†/ put away; the dishes are cleaned or in the dishwasher ; the bed is made ; and all the miscellaneous messes are picked up. I enjoy myself so much more while on vacation if I know¬†that I’m coming home to a clean house.


Make Copies of Your Documents – Both Electronically and On Paper

This one is very important!! I always make sure I have an electronic and 2 paper copies of the following documents: passport, driver license, insurance cards, and itinerary. The electronic copies I keep in my Google Docs folder for easy access from any computer or device. As for the paper copies – I keep one set of copies with a family member or friend and the extra set of copies with me while I’m traveling. It’s important to have these copies in case you lose any important documents while abroad so make sure you always do this!


Let Your Bank Know When and Where You’ll Be Traveling

This one is kind of a “duh”. The reason being is you don’t want your bank to suspect fraud on your account and freeze your credit or debit card! I personally don’t have a credit or debit card so I don’t need to do this but while we’re traveling, my fiance and I rely on his credit card quite often so he always alerts our bank when and where we’ll be. Better safe than sorry.


Find A Pet Sitter

While this step is only applicable if you have pets, it’s an important one. My fiance and I have a dog and a cat so we always try to find or book arrangements for them at least a few weeks in advance. If we’re only gone for a weekend, we just book our dog in a pet¬†hotel and leave our cat at home (with plenty of food and water, and a clean liter-box). If we’re gone for a longer period of time, we’ll usually put both of them in a pet hotel for the time we’ll be gone.


There you have it! I don’t know about you, but I could really use a vacation right now. It’s about -25 degrees outside with wind chill and it’s just miserable. South Dakota winters are not my friend. Hope you guys are staying warm and enjoying yourselves!

PS. Happy Holidays! What are your guys holiday plans? Let me know!


Read Next: Coming Soon!

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