Things I’m Loving Lately – Marathon Training Kickoff Edition

Yep, that’s right. Marathon training is officially underway. Not that I’m really doing anything wildly different this week. This week I’m running 23-25 miles, which has become my norm. Next week, however I’ll start (gradually) upping the miles. I guess I’m ready?

Not only is marathon training back, but so is the ridiculous heat, humidity, and daily thunderstorms. For a few months I was actually managing to do my long runs at night after the kids were in bed (and I kind of liked it), but with thunderstorms rolling in anywhere between 4-9pm, I decided I need to commit to morning running again.

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Why is sooooo hard to get up??

There are a few perks to marathon training. Mainly, it’s a good excuse to buy new things. It helps that it was just my birthday so I can say things like “I’m buying these for myself, for my birthday.” Even though everyone knows that I would probably buy them anyways. It’s just fun to have an excuse.

So here a few recent buys that I have been worth buying (none of these links are affiliated, click away)…

1. Amphipod Hydraform Handheld In-Touch (20oz)

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So, this isn’t new. I bought it back in February and it was love at first run. I have never really been one to run with a water bottle, but it now goes with me on every run. Even the 3 milers. It’s very light and cozy in my hand and it holds my phone (I’m actually able to use my phone without taking it out as well). When it’s super dark outside I reverse my phone and use it as a flashlight. Basically, it’s great. I haven’t decided if I’ll use it on longer runs or on race day, but I will use it on runs up to about 13 miles.

2. Nike Breeze Tanks

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I finally found the PERFECT shirt for running in Florida! I probably could run with just my sports bra on, but I like having something to absorb my sweat (it dries fast) and protect me from those stupid gnats that are everywhere (if only I could find something that kept them from flying into my mouth). The material is so lightweight and bonus, it’s long.

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If the shirts weren’t $35, I would probably have one in every color. Instead, I’m slowly adding them to my collection.

3. Salted Carmel Gu

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Don’t get me wrong, Gu is still disgusting and makes me gag, but this is the most tolerable flavor I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it’s the salt? I just realized it’s a winter flavor, and salted watermelon is their summer flavor. I can’t decide if that sounds gross or not.

4. Elta MD Sports Sunscreen

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My dermatologist probably makes a fortune off of selling this stuff, but I have to give him credit because it’s pretty great. It doesn’t make my skin breakout (and I have SUPER sensitive skin), it doesn’t smell too disgusting, it’s not sticky, and it doesn’t sting if it you’re a moron (like me) and it accidentally gets in your eyes. I also now use this on all of my kids – including Mr. Sensitive Baby Skin himself.

Oh, and I make my ginger husband use it so he doesn’t burst into flames the minute he walks out of the house.

5. Ridiculously Bright Colored Clothes

I’m all about the neon.

I'm obnoxious. #wooendorphins

I’m obnoxious and I know it.

6. Fitness Blender workouts

I’ve been wanting to add an extra strength/HIIT workout to my schedule — but I don’t have time (nor do I want to wake up early) to go to the gym, so I’ve been doing these Fitness Blender workouts from home. Here’s one that kicked my ass and only took 20 minutes….

I love that they visually include the countdown clock and have a pretty broad variety of workouts (which also list the calorie burn range). Maybe I’m the last person on Earth to discover these workouts, but if I’m not, check them out!

7. This book.

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Ok, so it has nothing to do with marathon training, except it’s been keeping me up because I can’t put it down. If you want to read something and think, “Wow, she’s batshit crazy and we need to be best friends.” Then this book is for you.

8. Cute kids and a supportive husband

So, I’m pretty lucky (and nobody even paid me to say that). My husband may not understand my crazy hobbies, but he’s my biggest fan and cheerleader. I could not fathom training for these marathons (or writing this blog) without his support.

He seems really excited about this for some reason.

And as always, the cute kids help too. Especially, when they pretend to like each other.

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WHICH IS ALWAYS (ha).

Anything running (or non-running really) that you’re loving lately?

More Books!

I had to check to see the last time I posted about the books I’ve read. It’s been a while!

When I last left off I was reading I Am Charlotte Simmons, with The Book Thief on deck. Well… I never finished either of them. I got through more than half of I Am Charlotte Simmons before giving up, and only read a few chapters of The Book Thief before switching to another book. This is highly unlike me, but for both books I was reading a page or two and then falling asleep. I might try to read The Book Thief again – I’ve heard it’s worth it once I finally get into it!

In full confession mode, I also started reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and dropped that as well. Has anyone read that one? Is it worth it to keep going? I’m about 120 pages in (it’s only 225 pages long).

As for books I’ve actually finished — here are my reviews…

Terra by Gretchen Powell

Terra

Synopsis:

A broken and desolate Earth. A young girl struggling to survive. A lost boy with a powerful secret.

A discovery that will change everything.

In the distant wake of a plague that has decimated the Earth’s population, humanity is split in two: The rich and powerful live in skycities that float overhead, while those who remain on the ground have gathered in settlements strewn across a dying planet. Eighteen-year-old Terra Rhodon is a terrestrial–a denizen of the barren groundworld–who makes her living as a scav. Long abandoned by her father, her caregivers gone, Terra supports herself and her younger brother, Mica, by scouring the earth for discarded scraps and metals to recycle for profit. One day, while on a routine scavenging run, she discovers something that shocks her home settlement of Genesis X-16. When the value of her discovery is revealed, Terra’s world is turned upside down.

Terra suddenly finds herself asking questions no one will answer. Her search for the truth leads her to Adam–a beguiling skydweller unlike any she has ever met. But Adam has secrets and a quest of his own. With him by her side, the world Terra thought she knew begins to unravel. Soon her discoveries unearth a terrifying conspiracy that has the potential to shatter everything–a revelation that will test the bonds of loyalty, family, and love.

 Review:

Written by a fellow blogger, I knew I had to read this book. I have to say I wasn’t disappointed! It was a really good dystopian young adult book that I easily read in a 2-3 days. I enjoyed the setup of the plot and the characters were fully fleshed out so there was a good connection. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, Divergent, and/or The Maze Runner – this book it for you.  I’m looking forward to reading the 2nd book. No pressure or anything Gretchen! (Hurry up and write it!!)

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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Synopsis:

On an ordinary Saturday, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer, gravity is affected, the birds, the tides, human behavior and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world of danger and loss, Julia faces surprising developments in herself, and her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by Hannah and other friends, the vulnerability of first love, a sense of isolation, and a rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker gives us a breathtaking story of people finding ways to go on, in an ever-evolving world.

Review:

I could NOT put this book down. In fact, I read it in a day (it helps that it was less than 300 pages long – and it was a day I was traveling). At the same time, this book still haunts me. It was disturbing in a “wow, this could really happen” kind of way that made me think a lot about how much our environment impacts our lifestyle and behavior. I really liked that the protagonist was an 11-year old girl.  I felt like you really felt that shift from naive innocence to cautious and anxious young adult.  The only thing about this book that disappointed me was the ending — not that I disliked HOW it ended, but that it ended. I really want to know more about everything that happened!

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Lifeboat

Synopsis:

Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying Grace and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize has exceeded capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

Review:

I read this for my March book club selection and Zzzz… I really struggled to make it through this book. The setup and premise of it was great – but in the end I was really, really disappointed in the story. My book club agreed (including Jackie Jovi). I think this would have been a better book if a few things were different:

1) Grace was likeable. I just didn’t like her and didn’t really care what happened to her.

2) The author tied up loose ends. There were a lot of random tangents in the book which seemed important at the time, but never came to fruition.

3) We actually learned about the other characters on the lifeboat. We were on the lifeboat for the majority of the book and I feel like the only person we learned about was Grace. That would be like watching Lost and only learning about Jack.

4) The ending wasn’t so rushed. Like I said, we were on the lifeboat for a REALLY REALLY long time and then it came to the ending it was like the author just lost interest.

So, bottom line – I didn’t like it and I definitely don’t recommend it, unless you are having problems sleeping. Even then…

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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 Synopsis:

Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.)

The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being haunted by Kenny G!

Review:

This was April’s book club book (which we are discussing tonight) and I’m looking forward to hearing what the others think. I still haven’t seen the movie, but this is obviously the book it is based on. I will say that even though I haven’t seen it – it was rather difficult to NOT think of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro when reading it. I guess that’s what happens when it’s up for the big awards!That said, it was a great (and quick) read. I liked that the book is told through Pat’s eyes – so like him, you have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time. This serves as a great plot device AND you get know the characters based on his opinions. The one thing I could have done without is all the football (I’m sure Jackie enjoyed all of the Philadelphia Eagles chanting), but at least the author balanced it out with dancing! I have heard from a few others that they actually enjoyed the movie more and I can see why some scenes may just play out better on screen (I’ve also heard they’ve altered some of the story/characters — I can’t wait to compare!).

and finally — I’m now reading this book, which has been highly recommended…

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

LifeAfterLife

Synopsis:

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she?

 I’m only a few chapters in and very confused – but I’m going to keep going!

Have you read anything good lately?? What do I need to add to my “must read” list? I have a feeling I’m going to have a little couch time in the next few weeks…

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened {BlogHer Book Club Review}

I have to admit I did a little squee when I got Jenny Lawson’s paperback book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) in the mail last month. I actually already owned the book (on my Nook), but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. Mostly because I am lame.

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If you don’ta already know (seriously, what rock are you hiding under?) Jenny Lawson is The Bloggess. While the name SOUNDS intimidating – I assure you the blog (and Jenny) is not. But it IS weird, and dark, and funny. And I don’t think she would be offended that I described it that way.

Ok, so I didn’t start reading The Bloggess until I started blogging ( you guys – there was this whole unknown WORLD to me!), but what she does with words is inspirational. I know, it sounds like I am gushing over a crush (which I kinda am) but, I have never read anything so odd, strange, heartbreaking, and hysterically funny all at once. This book is no different.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a memoir about Jenny’s life. Maybe. Kinda. (actually it’s brilliant for this book to be describe as mostly true – what memoir isn’t exaggerated????). What I think I appreciate the MOST about this book is that it’s NOT a regurgitation of her online persona. She did share a few of the chapters on her blog, but it’s not a bunch of previously written blogs posts stuffed into a book. Surprising, right? Instead, it’s her story. I, personally, felt that the memoir provides some depth to her blog and online personality. You get a little {more} history on why she might be so obsessed with dead stuffed animals (her taxidermists dad might have scared for life with a dead squirrel), as well as  more insight into her battle with anorexia, how her anxiety and depression started at an early age, and the several miscarriages she had before she finally gave birth to her daughter, Hailey.  Now, one might read my review and think, “How the HELL is that funny?” But I assure you – it just is and I really can’t do it justice. It’s like trying to explain why fart jokes are funny to 6-year olds (and all men). For every sad and heart-wrenching tale (which WILL leave you crying), there is a equally funny reprieve (that will also leave you crying). And even if it’s somewhat fabricated, I’d like to believe that most of it IS true.

Now, I don’t really need to sell you guys on this book, do I? If you’ve never heard of The Bloggess before, go take same time and read some of her posts. Maybe start with Beyonce? (which IS a chapter in the book). And then, because you like things that are disturbing, weird, AND funny, you will buy her book. Once you do that, you too can find out about the response to the question, “Are these your pensises?”  You  can learn about the time a serial killer stabbed her in the face and what her stance is on Jesus being a zombie. Seriously guys, all of this and more packed into 336 pages of (mostly true) fun.

Bottom line: Should you read it? If you like laughing… yes.

Have you read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? What did you think?

In full disclosure - this is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club. However, all opinions and recommendations are my own.

Friday Randoms

This has simultaneously felt like the longest and the shortest week. I worked on Monday, but most people in my office did not and it’s really thrown me for a loop. At the same time, mom-related things have been challenging me this week (more so than usual) and I’m just ready to slow it down for the weekend. Yeah, because “slowing it down” actually happens.

I was going to do a Five for Friday post – but eh, who needs structure? Here’s a bunch of random stuff going on in my life…

1. A few weeks ago NASM asked me if I was interesting in taking their Weight Loss Specialist course and, of course, I said yes! I started that this week.

NASM

It’s a 15-hour online course that covers the physiology and psychology of weight loss, nutrition, exercise guidelines, and other relevant weight loss assessment tools. It’s designed to help fitness professionals meet their weight loss goals.  I’m excited about this course for three reasons: 1) I really, really want to do the NASM Certified Personal Trainer program this year and it gives me a little insight into their course design and 2) I design online training and I’m kinda a nerd about this kind of stuff. Truthfully, I would love to design health and fitness training some day. 3) I considered going into health and nutrition before I decided on psychology/learning and I really feel passionate about the topic. Obesity – especially childhood obesity – is such a big issue right now that touches me and my family on so many levels. It’s an epidemic that we NEED to do something about.

I’m sure I will sharing what I’ve learned in weeks to come!

2. I love this eye shadow.

The loot

I have been using the cheap stuff forever and I’m pretty sure I can’t go back. (I like the other stuff too – but the Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette is definitely worth the splurge!)

3. I went to a blogger meetup last night and I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in months.

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I love my local blogging girls.

CFLBloggers

Dinner was at Pho Hoang Minh and it was sooooooo good. I love pho.

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Christine organized the event and even brought drinks ! I obviously didn’t partake, but she themed 3 drinks to 3 movies nominated for Oscars: The Lincoln (an apple drink for Lincoln), The Bathtub (Kahlua and Bailey’s were involved for Beasts of the Southern Wild), and Red Wine (for Les Mis – because really, what other drink is appropriate?). These drinks (and the other 6) will be featured on her blog very soon!

4. I don’t necessarily know if I look any bigger this week, but I feel like this baby is so much heavier. It COULD be because my ligaments are recovering from last Saturday. All I know is that rolling over in bed suddenly became a lot tougher.

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Also, I don’t know why it looks like my mirror is so dirty.

5. I am having one of those days where I think my kids are adorable.

We've had a challenging week -- but he always gets me with that smile.

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For what it’s worth, I did not feel this way yesterday.

6. I really tried to read I am Charlotte Simmons because I feel like everyone has read it and loved it — and after 300 pages (out of 700) I’m throwing in the towel.  Maybe I’ll pick it up another time (<-probably not). Instead I’ve switched to Terra. I love that it was written by a fellow blogger!

Terra

I’m all of like 2 chapters into it. Full review to come!

7. We started watching The Following this week and I’m already hooked.

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I hope they keep up the creepy factor – as well as the well-played twists. I love a show that keeps me guessing! I’m also excited about The Americans starting up this week…

TheAmericans

Keri Russell!! She is one of my favorites and I love spy dramas. I REALLY hope it doesn’t suck.

8. Best Body Bootcamp is kicking my legs in the ass this week (umm.. if that’s possible), but in a good way.

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This week’s nemesis? Balance!! I’ve been able to most of the moves without modifying, but the balance aspect of it is hilarious and challenging. It’s as if I have something large pulling me forward for some reason. Hmmm.

I’m still soooo happy with my decision to sign up for this challenge. I don’t know that I would have worked out AT ALL this week after my race last week – and really it just takes one lazy week for me to get stuck in a rut. Are you stuck in a rut?? Sign up for a good challenge. It’s amazing what it can do for you – mentally AND physically.

9. I am really starting to ramp up with the baby gear purchases, but I’m still in denial that I’m going to be a mom of three. I feel like I’m just buying stuff for someone else at this point! The past week I’ve bought diapers, breastfeeding supplies, a nose frida, and car seats. I *think* the only thing I’m lacking is a baby monitor (I’m going to splurge and by a video one this time around and a bouncer (any of my new friends want to lend me one for a few months? :)). I am starting to feel like I am insane for doing this all again. 

10. I think my brain is empty now. Happy Friday!!

Books, Books, and More Books

I keep meaning to do a post on the books I’ve been reading — but instead I pick out another book and read it. So, I’ve developed quite the list! Here’s my review on all of the ones that have been keeping me busy. I definitely do not recommend all of them.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

NightCircus

Synopsis:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is calledLe Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

I read this for a book club meeting I didn’t end up attending (boo!). Too bad because this book was really interesting and I bet there was a lot of good discussion. The beginning was a little confusing (you are just immersed into the book without an explanation of the characters), but I quickly caught on and loved the background and build up of the circus. There are really two main stories being told throughout the book and I liked how they came together in the end. If you are looking for something that is a little out of the ordinary, but still captivating, this book is for you!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perks

Synopsis:

Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.

I read this book because I had heard so many good things about the movie and I have this thing about needing to read a book first. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I can see how it could be better than the book. The book wasn’t horrible, but it’s not necessarily what I expected.

For one, I thought I would relate to the characters a little more. The main character, Charlie, is a freshman in high school – the same year I was a freshman in high school. Instead, the book just made me feel old! The overall story was interesting (albeit a little depressing) – but the way to was written (as letters to an unknown recipient) was irritating, somewhat immature, and one-dimensional to me. Still, it was a quick read and I didn’t necessarily want it to end. In fact, I’d really like to know what Charlie is up to now.

A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

CasualVacancy

Synopsis:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Another book club pick.

Don’t let the author on this thing fool you. Yes, I HATED this book.

A lot of people are reading and comparing it to Harry Potter — but I went into it expecting the opposite of HP. I knew there would be language and sex and everything HP was not. What I didn’t expect was a crop of characters I cared nothing for (I hated ALL of them) and a plot that seem nonexistent. Did an editor read this book??? So much of the story could been cut out completely. There were so many descriptions  and interactions of unimportant characters. Also: So.many.characters.

I read that they are turning this into some kind of TV show for the BBC. WHY???

Despite my disdain – I read every single word of this disgustingly long and drawn out book. I beg of you – do not do the same.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

SecretKeeper

Synopsis:

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

I love historical fiction and I have pretty much loved everything that Kate Morton has written — and this book was no different. It exactly what I needed after reading A Causal Vacancy! Even though I predicted the ending, I really enjoyed the two stories that were told. It’s not as good as The Forgotten Garden, but still a good read and recommend it if you are looking for a little mystery.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

FaultStars

Synopsis:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

I was looking through various 2012 best books of the year lists – and this one was pretty much on ALL of them… AND it’s a Young Adult book to boot. Who says YA books can’t be well written? I have to agree – this is definitely one of the best books I read this year. It’s funny. It’s witty. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a reality check. I pretty much bawled my eyes out– but man, it was a good cry. Go read it.

Paper Towns by John Green

PaperTowns

Synopsis:

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge— he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues— and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

As you can see, I kinda went on a John Green binge once I finished The Fault in Our Stars. This book actually takes place in Orlando (where John Green grew up up – he is a year older than me and probably went to middle school/part of high school with my hubby) and it’s part of the reason I was so drawn into the story. Orlando is one of the main players (I was amused about some of the places that he mentions — and how he changed the name of Baldwin Park to Jefferson Park. It was quite evident that’s the neighborhood Q and Margo live in!).

Like The Fault in Our Stars, this book is also witty and funny – but has a serious side to it (there weren’t any tears this time though!). The beginning of the book was better than the end (Q gets a little obsessed to the point were the story becomes repetitive), but it’s still a worthwhile read.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

LookingAlaska
Synopsis:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

Yes, another John Green book. This is one of his first books (I went backwards) and the characters are very parallel to Q and Margo in Paper Towns (with a different plot). One thing I really enjoy about his books is how realistic he writes teenagers. He doesn’t dumb down the plot because he’s writing to a teenage audience. He writes about realistic events and emotions and doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. I recommend any of his books — but maybe not all in a row like I read them!

Since I got a new Nook for Christmas (I love the Glowlight, btw), I’m on a serious reading kick! I’m currently reading I am Charlotte Simmons (why haven’t I read this book?) and up next is  The Book Thief (again – another book I’ve been meaning to read).

What are you reading? Any recommendations?? Here’s to happy reading in 2013!!