Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mailbox Monday (64)

 Happy Sunday!  We have had a lazy, relaxing weekend and it has been wonderful!

I have a light mailbox this week but I'm okay with that.  I used some more of my settlement credit to get some books and also got some fun book mail (book mail is the best kind!).

Purchased (for nook):

For Review (from author/publisher):

This is the second book in the Daughters of New France series.  I really liked the first book and can't wait to read this one.

I hope you all have a great week! 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

#FitReaders Weekly Check In (13)

Hey y'all.  I have had a really good two weeks when it comes to my fitness goals.  Last week I finished Couch 2 5K which was great!  The last run was 30 minutes straight and it was hard but I did it.  It was worth it to do the program again because I feel so much better about running.  I'm glad to be done with it because I like to be able to structure my runs around how I am feeling so I have more flexibility now that I'm done with the program.   

Last week I also started the week 2 workout on my Ripped in 30 DVD.  It is super hard but after two weeks I'm starting to feel better about it.  I love that it has really good ab workouts included; week 1's ab workouts weren't very good.  I don't love all the plank exercises.  This week's workout has a ton of plank workouts and my arms feel like jell-o afterwards and I kind of want to cuss out Jillian while I'm doing them.

In the past two weeks, I worked out 11 times.  Last week, I got in 5 workouts - 3 days of running and 2 days of Ripped in 30.  This week, I got in 6 workouts (!) - 3 days of running and 3 days of Ripped in 30.  Now that my husband isn't working nights, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to exercise in the morning anymore but I got in two morning workouts without waking up the toddler so that helped a lot!  I can't use my treadmill in the mornings but I can at least do my DVD workouts which makes my life so much easier in the evenings.

I'm still working on eating better.  Last week I did well at staying within the calories that MyFitnessPal says I can have.  This week I did okay but we went to the fair and then I had a work event so I got a little off track.  I've decided to stop worrying about the scale and just try hard to eat better most of the time and to keep exercising.  Looking at the scale too much stresses me out and makes me feel bad and I'm tired of dealing with that.

Anyway, for the next two weeks I'm planning to get in 6 workouts per week and try to stay on track with MyFitnessPal most days.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (17)

Hello and happy Thursday!  I am linking up with Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts) over at Bookishly Boisterous.

1.) UGH.  I just started the next level of my Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 DVD and I hate it!  It's really hard and some of the moves feel impossible for an uncoordinated person like myself.  I try my hardest but it's a good thing nobody can see me because I'm sure I look ridiculous.

2.) I've been reading a lot of WWII era historical fiction lately and while I love it, I think I'm going to have to take a break from it.  I need to find something really cheerful to read for a change.  Suggestions are welcome!

3.) My mom is visiting this weekend so I've been doing a lot of extra cleaning around the house.  I really wish I wasn't the kind of person who cares about having a clean house because I just don't want to do it anymore.  I used to really like cleaning but now it just feels like one more thing I have to make time for.

4.) My husband is now working a normal day shift which is glorious.  He can now help with bedtime so we are taking turns and it is a beautiful thing.  I've been in charge of bedtime for like 99% of the last three years and it's so nice to have a break!

5.) I bought Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton and while I'm eager to read it, I am a little intimidated by the size.  I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to such a huge book right now.

6.) We've been following a 'no spend' month for July and it's going really well.  I plan to post more about it later but I'm really hoping we can keep up the momentum for the rest of the year.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mini Reviews (17)

I stumbled across this book when I was just messing around on Amazon and I am so glad that I found it.  I work in higher education and in my role, I'm working with more student veterans so this was a must read.  My brother is also an Iraq war vet so this hit close to home.  It was absolutely fascinating.  It is a book of essays written by student veterans in a first seminar course and the stories are so profound.  Some of the essays go into detail about deployments while others discuss reintegrating into civilian life and some are just about major moments in the student veterans' lives.  Each essay is very different as each veteran had a different experience during their time in the military.  I feel like I learned a lot from this book and I really think that it's a must read for anyone in higher ed and for anyone who is interested in the veteran experience. 5 stars.

I am part of an online book group and everyone has been raving about this series recently so I finally gave in to the peer pressure.  Fantasy is definitely not of my go to genres but I found myself really enjoying this book.  I love that it is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast though it did seem a little Hunger Games-ish in the beginning what with the starving young huntress and her bow and arrow.  Otherwise the story was a very unique and intriguing one.  It was a little slow as the author built the Fairie and human worlds but there was always just enough mystery to keep me wanting more.  The characters were very cool and weird as it may seem, I loved Lucien and Rhysand the best.  Lucien was the sidekick and Rhysand was the anti-hero but I found them to be the most interesting characters in the book.  That's not to say that I didn't really like Tamlin and Feyre (their romance was amazing!) but I kind of gravitated toward the two underdogs.  Overall, this was  great book and I can't wait to read the next one (people tell me it's even better than the 1st!). 4 1/2 stars.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mailbox Monday (63)

It's been a weird week as my husband went from working graveyard shifts to day shifts this week.  He has worked graveyard shift for over a year so it's been a bigger adjustment than expected.  Now we're all just trying to get into a new routine.
I went a little library crazy this week with my mailbox!  I already have a bunch of library books I need to read but I stopped by to pick up a DVD for my daughter and couldn't resist picking up a few books too.

From the Library (ebooks):


This book has been kind of slow to start but I'm definitely intrigued enough to keep going

From the Library:

I really need a good thriller in my life these days.  Both of these have been on my TBR list for a while so I couldn't help myself when I saw them available at the library.

For Work:

I work in higher education and a lot of my students are veterans or even active duty military.  My brother is also an Iraq war veteran and active duty Army so this really hits home for me.  When I found this book on Amazon I knew I had to read it and my office was kind enough to buy it for me.  I'm reading it now and it is excellent!  I think it's a good read for anyone whether or not you work in education; it just may help people better understand what veterans went through and are going through as they transition to military life.
Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

#FitReaders Weekly Check In (12)

#FitReaders is hosted by Jen at That's What I'm Talking About and Felicia at Geeky Blogger's Book Blog.

Hey y'all!  The last two weeks have been excellent with regard to exercise.  I have worked out five days per week for the past two weeks.  I am still doing Couch 2 5K which is three runs per week and I just finished week 7.  Week 7 is the second to last week and it is hard.  All of the runs are 25 minutes long with zero breaks; in a past life (pre-Julia), that would have been no big deal but it feels like a huge feat for me now.  I'm pretty happy that I was able to run the whole time.  I'll start week 8 tomorrow and I know the runs are even longer so I'm hoping that will go okay.  

The other two days per week I am doing the Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 DVD.  I'm still on the week 1 work out but I plan to start week 2 next week.  Because I only do these workouts two days per week, I like to make sure I'm comfortable with one level before I move to the next.  I really do like this work out.  It provides a good mix of strength and cardio and definitely makes me sweat!

I had hoped to start moving up to working out six days per week but I just don't see that happening.  My husband changed shifts so exercising in the morning is no longer an option and sometimes I don't get to work out until 9:00 at night.  I've decided that five days per week works great for me and I'm going to stick with that plan for the foreseeable future.

Eating, this is the hardest part for me.  I feel like for the past two months or so (with the exception of one week), I have done a good job of being consistent with my exercise.  However, my eating has been terrible.  The two weeks that included Julia's birthday and 4th of July were AWFUL and I pretty much ate whatever I wanted.  This past Monday, I started tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal again and making sure I stayed within my alloted calories for each day.  It really wasn't as hard as I expected...I think maybe because I felt pretty awful from eating nothing but junk for a few weeks.  I got on the scale this morning and saw a number that I didn't like but I feel pretty committed to losing some weight so I'm hoping that number will start moving downward.  Saturdays are my cheat days but I'll be back on the wagon tomorrow.

Anyway, that was a lot of babbling.  I hope everyone is having a good weekend and meeting their #FitReaders goals.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: "The Munich Girl" by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

From Goodreads:  Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna's journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

 My Thoughts:  The Munich Girl provides a riveting look at the life of Eva Braun.  In addition to exploring Eva Braun, the book tells the story of Anna as struggles through life-changing events and eventually finds out who she really is.

I don't think I have ever thought much of Eva Braun beyond the fact that she was Hitler's mistress and finally his wife.  I feel like this book provides an unbiased look at her life in addition to humanizing her.  I actually felt sorry for the Eva Braun portrayed in this book; sometimes love makes you do the wacky and it seemed like that was the case in this story.

 Another thing I enjoyed about this book was seeing the German side of things during World War II.  It's rare to find a book that showcases what the average German person was dealing with during the war.  I liked that the author didn't vilify the German people and even portrayed German characters who did not support Hitler or the war.

I really liked the Anna character but my favorite was Hannes.  I absolutely adored him!  He was so incredibly kind to and patient with Anna.  I loved the way that he encouraged her to find herself in quite a few different ways.  Also, his family was wonderful; they were just filled with so much love and joy.

Overall, this is such a lovely book.  It far exceeded my expectations and I'm so glad I read it. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mini Reviews (16)

I really like Nora Roberts; her books are a little cheesy but they're nice, light, fun reads.  However, this one didn't really do it for me.  It had a creepy mystery at the beginning but the story kind of fell flat from there.  The middle was slow and full of non-stop home renovation descriptions and the big mystery was SO obvious.  I figured it out at the very beginning and I never figure that kind of stuff out.  And it felt like I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds complete with the BAU agents (I love that show but it just made the big seem unoriginal).  I did love the characters and the setting; I really want to live in that town and have everyone be my friend.   3 stars.

I have been wanting to read this book for a long time and I'm so glad I finally got around it to it.  It was riveting and heart-breaking and made me so mad all at the same time.  I felt so bad for the author; it seemed like everyone in her life failed her instead of protecting her.  I honestly can't decide if I hated her step-father or her mother more.  I am fascinated by the stories of people who escape cults/polygamist sects and this is one of the best books I've read on the subject. It upsets me so much that there are still fanatical sects that suck people in to such horrible lives.  The one shining light in all the chaos was the sibling relationships; even though Ruth was the caretaker of her siblings, there was just so much love there and they really helped save each other.  4 stars.

The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

I have owned this book for a long time and I can't believe it has taken me so long to read it.  It completely sucked me in from page 1.  I'm fascinated by Eleanor of Aquitaine so it was a real treat to read a book about her daughter.  I loved that the story kind of took the reader on a tour of 12th century Europe; it was fun to read about all the different places Joan traveled to.  Princess Joan was such a neat character; smart and strong-willed but still somewhat naive in her youth.  I did feel bad for her because, holy cow, her family was dysfunctional.  All of her family members were so complicated and it was hard to decide who was trustworthy.  The romantic side of the story was sweet without overpowering the rest of the story which I liked.  Overall, an excellent YA historical read! 4 stars.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mailbox Monday (62)

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!  It's time for another Mailbox Monday post!

I received a little over $9 in the Apple settlement to use for Nook books so I'm carefully and slowly rationing it out.  Barnes & Noble had a few really great deals that I couldn't resist so I had to pick up a couple books with some of the settlement money.

Purchased (for Nook):

This book is the sequel to The Kommandant's Girl, which I loved, so I couldn't resist that it was only 99 cents!  I've been really into reading about World War II since I took a class on the Holocaust this spring so I'm really looking forward to this one.

This book sounds absolutely fascinating.  I recently picked up a documentary about this woman's mother which I'm eager to watch.  It will be interesting to hear the stories of both mother and daughter and how they come to grips with their heritage.
What books did you pick up this week?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Young, Wild, and Three

I know it isn't book related but I have to post about it anyway.  We celebrated my sweet baby Julia's 3rd birthday last week and it was so much fun.  I can't believe that she is three already, time has flown by! Over the weekend, we had a huge family party; it was really hot so we had all kinds of water fun for the kids and they had a blast.  Her actual birthday was last Tuesday and we had a nice quiet family evening with her.

I know soon she's going to be too old for birthday shirts but I couldn't stop myself from getting her one this year.  I found this glittery iron on 'three' on Etsy and it turned out so cute.

We did kind of a sprinkle theme for her party because it was nice and simple so I decided to make her a sprinkle cake.  It was super easy!  I used a tutorial I found on pinterest and basically just rolled the frosted cake in the sprinkles. I had sprinkles all over my kitchen but the cake was a huge hit.

For her big gift we got her the Bitty Twins from American Girl.  She is obsessed with baby dolls and loves to dress them, feed them and create play scenarios for them.  Her daycare lady got her some clothes and accessories to go with the twins so Julia has been in hog heaven with her dolls.

I'm glad I don't have to think about planning another birthday party until next year but it was so awesome to see her get excited for her party and actually understand what was going on.  It's so fun to see things through her eyes!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

June 2016 Wrap Up + 6 month Check In

June is over and now onto July!  We survived Julia's birthday and now hopefully we can relax for a while.  

Not too long ago, I was sure that June would be my worst reading month for the year.  I hit a major slump for the first half of the month and just wasn't loving anything I was reading.  Surprisingly enough, I managed to read 8 books this month which I'm super happy about!  My reading goals for the month were to read two books I own and two non-fiction books; I didn't read anything I own but I did manage to read two non-fiction books so I'm feeling good about that.  I also wanted to try to post on the blog at least once a week and I managed to get that done as well.  So overall June hasn't been too bad.

For the year, I am at 34 books completed and my goal is 52.  I'm sure I'll exceed that goal but by how much, I'm not sure.  Some of the books on my TBR list for the rest of the year are pretty long so we'll see how it goes.  I know I'm really behind on my main goals of focusing on non-fiction and books I own but I'm hoping to make a comeback in the second half of the year.  I only have two more review books that I have committed to and I'm hoping to not take on much more in the coming months.

For July, my reading goals are again to read two non-fiction books and two books I own.  I have about 19 books that I want to read and then get rid of so I need to get working on that pile.  I also want to try to post on the blog at least twice a week.  I'm enjoying slowly getting back in the groove of blogging!

My reading stats for June:

-8 books read
   -2 non-fiction
   -4 historical fiction
   -5 review books
   -3 library books
   -0 books I own
   -4 ebooks

In June, I read:

1.) The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn
2.) The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*** by Sarah Knight -2 stars
3.)  The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen
4.) The Obsession by Nora Roberts- 3 stars
5.) Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir
6.) Karolina's Twins by Ronald H. Balson - 5 stars
7.) The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner - 4 stars
8.) The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring - 4 1/2 stars

My reading stats for the year so far:

-34 books read
   -8 non-fiction
   -20 historical fiction
   -13 review books
   -4 library books
   -15 books I own
   -21 ebooks

How was June for you? Are you on track to meet your reading goals?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Mailbox Monday (61)

Time for another Mailbox Monday post. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  I don't have to go back to work until Wednesday so I'm going to enjoy every minute!

I feel pretty lucky to have such a full mailbox this week.  My husband and I are doing a 'no spend' month so I won't be buying any more books at least until August.  I have a little bit to spend on books from the Apple settlement but otherwise, it's going to be all library books or ones I already own from here on out.

From the Library:

I read a book by Ronald Balson and loved it so much that I ran out and got his other two books! 

Kindle First freebies (June and July):

I forgot to look at the June Kindle Firsts offerings and managed to grab it right before the month ended.  There were some great books to choose from for June and July.

For Review (from HFVBT):

I have read several of her books and am really excited to read this one. 

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

#FitReaders Weekly Check In (11)

#FitReaders is hosted by That's What I'm Talking About and the Geeky Blogger's Book Blog.

Ugh!  This has been a bad week for me when it comes to exercise.  I am doing a check in for the last weeks; last week was great, this week not so much.  Last week, I got in 5 workouts- 3 runs (about 30 minutes each) and 2 sessions of 'Ripped in 30'.  This week my daughter started having sleep issues and we're trying to get ready for company so I only got in 3 30 minute runs.  I did finish week 5 of Couch 2 5K and the last run was HARD but I am proud of myself for doing it.  I had to run for 20 minutes straight; this used to be nothing for me but since I'm pretty much out of shape, it was super rough.

I'm hoping to get back on track next week with at least 5 workouts (preferably 6) per week and get back to using My Fitness Pal to track what I'm eating.  My clothes are getting tight so I really need to get on top of monitoring my food intake.

I'm definitely going to commit to regular exercise for the month of July.  I think overall, I did a good job of making exercise a priority in June (with the exception of this week) and I'm hoping to keep up with it for July (and maybe actually lose some weight!).

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