Saturday, October 17, 2015

#FitReaders: October 17th, 2015


#FitReaders: I actually had some days where I worked hard on my steps. The result? So many more walking and steps taken than last week and the week before. So proud of myself! I'll be getting my other two wisdom teeth out so I will most likely not do so well this week, but I'll see what happens.

Workout Schedule:

Day #1: Chest and Triceps
Day #2: Backs and Biceps
Day #3: Legs

Weekly Steps:

Friday, October 9th: 3,553
Saturday, October 10th: 11,352
Sunday, October 11th: 10,409
Monday, October 12th: 4,146
Tuesday, October 13th: 2,659
Wednesday, October 14th: 10,265
Thursday, October 15th: around 9,700

Total Steps: 52,084

That's 28,000 more steps than last week!

Water Intake: Around 344 oz of water (I only recorded some of my water intake again.)

How did you do this past week?

Evertaster by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Evertaster #1. Future House Publishing (June 2012) Own
When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother's casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever. Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster's heels and the chefs' reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it's too late.

*Sigh* With a book promising epic tales of adventures across the world, secret societies, and it all being centered around food, well what's not to love right? Evertaster had so much to offer, but the easy acceptance of the situation, the unbelievability of it, and the glaring obvious age group it was for, Evertaster left me disheartened.

I just don't know why there are children's book and MG books out there that I can't enjoy. I love books that are in any type of age group. Why is it that some don't resonate with me? For Evertaster there were many parts that I didn't enjoy including the pace. Right away, the Johansonville family are launched into the world of the unknown and being chased by some chefs in red. It sounds exciting, but the way that it was written I couldn't enjoy this aspect of the book. The main reason why is that the family accepted this world so easily and just everything moved too fast into the plot line. Not fun.

Evertaster also felt too childish with the way the characters were portrayed. His mother was written pretty horribly especially. The only thing I did like that kept me turning the pages was that I wanted to know how everything was going to be resolved. Everything else in the book just fell flat for me. I can see Evertaster being enjoyed by children easily, although I wish it would transcend that age group and the I could have enjoyed it.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

Standalone. Linden Tree Press (April 2015) NetGalley
What if the world didn’t want you to go straight? Out on parole after almost ten years in prison, Emet First is repairing his shattered life. He has friends, a job, and his first date in a decade. The young woman, Mercedes Finch, is lovely but wounded. When her deranged brother learns about Emet’s past, he will stop at nothing to destroy him—and suddenly Emet has everything to lose.

                       


Emet seems just like a regular guy working his magic alongside Eden Rose, the owner of the Serve You Right Café. He just got a date with a beautiful woman who works as a physical therapist. The problem is he knows he has to reveal his criminal past at some point, but he just knows if he does she'll run away.

Mercey, has had to deal with her mother's harsh words and her brother's drug addiction for most of her life. Now when she finally has a great career, has a date with a cute guy, and is moving out of her mother's home she can't help but feel worried. What will happen when Emet finds out how screwed up her family is? In particular, her addict brother who will do anything to keep Mercey from leaving and stop her "caretaking" duties of him. He'll even go as far as trying to get Emet sent back to jail.

I really enjoyed where this was going two-fourths of the way in. I got a little lost there with the story centering around too many things, but still this was fairly enjoyable. This felt like it was too fake in a way with the brother acting crazy and Emet being the obvious hero. There were also a bunch of storylines like I said before which centered around a lot of people. There was no real need for that. I think the amount of pages in this book also contributed to the factor that I thought this was just alright. I would give Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café a chance if you are looking for a feel-good story with a happy ending.


Do you think former criminals deserve a second chance?

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Standalone. Delacorte Press (Jan. 2014) NetGalley
When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.


I'm glad I didn't go into reading And We Stay knowing what it was about. The subject matter hit me hard. There's this mystery that comes with not knowing the reason why Emily is shipped off to boarding school that makes it so much more interesting. Eventually when I did find out that Paul, her ex-boyfriend, killed himself and why he did it - it just put everything into perspective and had me feeling for Emily and her situation.

The poetry really came to life as the story progressed. Emily's words were worked into the story along with Emily Dickinson's work. I've never really read/remembered an Emily Dickinson poem. While discovering Emily and her background I was able to learn about Emily Dickinson's life and I began to care and want to read her poems right there and then.

Oh, yes, she could feel it
even though the bullet
had never stabbed her skin.
The bright white heat
burned at her core
where two lives
beat, and if he'd aimed
 there and pulled the trigger,
red would have crested
like a broken dam
over her hands
as her last word rushed
up to her throat-- Paul-- 
a sound that took no time and also lifetimes.” - Emily Beam

The poetry took a while to get used to, but it turned out really beautiful. I was in tears after reading a few of them. I liked the quirky friends Emily made, but they didn't make the story. Emily, her struggles, and her poetry made And We Stay worthwhile. And We Stay was way more impactful than I could have ever foreseen. And We Stay showed the real complexity of a decision and the lives it can affect.

What poet/poem really speaks to you?

Friday, October 9, 2015

#FitReaders: October 9th, 2015

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#FitReaders: My fitness this week was pretty good. I was able to get in my leg day which was pretty brutal. I need to work on my steps big time! I wasn't that off my water intake goal so I'm proud of that.

Workout Schedule:

Day #1: Chest and Triceps
Day #2: Backs and Biceps
Day #3: Legs

Weekly Steps:

Friday, October 2nd: 4,102
Saturday, October 3rd: 3,173
Sunday, October 4th: 3,221
Monday, October 5th: 2,775
Tuesday, October 6th: 3,922
Wednesday, October 7th: 3,812
Thursday, October 8th: 3,553

Total Steps: 24,558

Water Intake: Around 336+ oz of water (I only recorded some of my water intake.)

So I did about 5,000 steps less than last week which frustrates me. I just need to work harder this week.

How did you do this past week?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Standalone. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (April 2015) Library
A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.


In The Secrets We Keep, Ella is drawing a piece of art for submission to an art school she's planning to go to when the phone rings. Her identical sister Maddy is on the line and practically begging her sister to pick her up. Maddy looks out of sorts when Ella comes to her sisters rescue and when she questions it she and her sister get into an argument. An argument that ends with one sister's death. Everyone thinks the girl who survived was Maddy, outgoing, popular, life-of-the-party Maddy. But, it's really Ella who decides that she's going to give everyone what they want - Maddy.

For some reason, the premise of The Secrets We Keep didn't bother me the first time around. Then I read a review and was extremely worried I wasn't going to like it. But when I read a book I love and see others who have written unfavorable reviews it doesn't change my opinion of the book. So with all that in my mind I read The Secrets We Keep.... and basically I was warned and should have known better.

There are major cliches with Maddy and Ella's character. Maddy is the popular one that everybody loves and Ella is the brain/different one who everyone looks down on. I actually do not mind cliches because authors who do a really good job are able to create great personalities for their characters and stories so I don't mind it in the end. In this case, it was there and it wasn't that big of a deal. What was a big deal in my mind was the plot. Maddy feels so guilty she decides to act like she is her sister. I don't know if it was the way it was written and/or if it's just the plot in general, but I couldn't help think how dumb it was of Maddy to make that choice. I understand why she did, but it really didn't make sense in terms of the story. In The Lying Game series, Emma discovers she has a twin sister and must act like she is her dead sister after her murderer threatens her life. She's on a mission to keep herself alive and find her sister's killer. Now that's a motive to pretend to be your sister. The motive here is faulty.

The elements of a story didn't blend well in The Secrets We Keep. It was sort of interesting but wasn't executed as well as I would have liked plus the plot was not to my liking and Maddy was ridiculous with her reasoning to be her sister. Really, you were going to be your sister the rest of your life? The whole secret that Maddy was keeping wasn't even that interesting. Like really that's it? And the way it's revealed? The only thing I can say I really liked was Ella discovering she's good enough and people love her. That's a really great message with a book I otherwise did not jump for joy when finishing.

What are some cliches that you are tired of and what are some you can't get enough of?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Since You've Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

Standalone. Dundurn Group (Feb. 2015) Library
Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she's in a different country.

Sydney promises her that that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn't come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.

Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she'll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.


Edie's in a new country, in a new home, and in a new school. Her life, since she was ten years old, has been running away from her abusive father. Her mother has always been there for her even though the whole situation has made Edie angry and a fighter. On her first day of school she shuns the weird kid, makes two friends, and makes an enemy. The next day her mom isn't there to see her off in the morning and hasn't returned since her first day of work which increasingly worries Edie as the days go by. Desperate, Edie becomes friends with the school's pariah, even teacher's treat him horribly, and they set off to find her mom and she finds that to do so she must confront her past.

Edie's story is a harrowing one as she tries to find her mom. There's always the looming tension that her father has come back to get her and take her away. The abuse that occurred because of her father is something that she can't shake. She's always very angry and quick to attack. She's met her match in Precious, a bully with some serious problems. She finds every opportunity to show her who's boss. Precious is only one part of the book. The other parts have Edie and Jermaine, a boy who is seen as dangerous, dealing with racism, obstacles, their past, and finding Edie's mom. I felt like I could connect with Edie's story but only to a certain extent. There were a lot of things thrown at her that I sympathized with however I felt like it was too much. It didn't feel very genuine. The "romance" also wasn't needed. The book only covers about a week and then six months later. It's too soon for them to be feeling close when her mom might be in serious danger.

Although I really liked Edie, I thought that the pace of the story and some of the way the story was written could have been better. I wanted to feel more of an impact as well especially since this story covers bullying, abuse, and a missing person. Since You've Been Gone was an okay read. If it would have been longer I think I would have enjoyed it a little more. Edie was a great character nonetheless and I would have liked to enjoy reading more about her and not the constant, one after the other, obstacles she had to face.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Standalone. Greenwillow Books (May 2015) Own
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
 

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.


You know when you just pick up a book because you've been seeing it around lately and you've heard only good things? You take a chance and that chance is rewarded a thousand fold? Yeah, well that rare moment arrived with me reading Made You Up.

Alex has paranoid schizophrenia so not only does she see things that aren't there, but she has to constantly survey her surroundings and convince herself that her classmates aren't communists. I've never read a story with a character who has schizophrenia so this was a totally eye-opening experience for me. It's pretty messed up the illnesses that are out there and it's amazing how people with those illnesses always have to struggle and fight for their "normal". 

“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?” 

I loved Alex and her fight for "normal". I especially loved when she fought back against Miles. Miles is a strange character when you meet him. You know something's up, but you aren't quite sure. He doesn't make real sense. He goes on a full out war against Alex on the first day of school. Sometimes he can be sweet and other times he's just a pain in Alex's side. Their little prank/war thing going on was inspired. 

“The only thing missing was Miles. But he was probably circling somewhere, destroying villages and hoarding gold in his mountain lair.” 

But, I loved both their characters before Alex started her Senior year in High School. I was instantly attracted to their personalities from the very first page - a flashback to when Alex was a little girl and Miles a little boy. The thing is Alex isn't sure if Miles is real or not. There are many things and people she's not sure about so she keeps a camera with her so she can analyze what's real and what's not. It works for her sometimes. It's like her window into reality when she can't rely on her eyes.

“Over time, the real remained in the photo while the hallucinations faded away. I discovered what sorts of things my mind liked to make up.” 
Alex's family is an integral part of the book and so are the friends she begins to make. Her mother is especially critical towards her. I could understand the mother's POV at some points, but since I was seeing everything through Alex's eyes I could feel the times she was failing the most. Her father is away a lot however, Alex's relationship with him is better. He's more gentle with her. Alex's little sister Charlie is really sweet and is always there for her older sister even though she doesn't know what is going on.

Zappia provides top notch writing for her debut. I'm so eager to see what else is up her sleave. The hype for Made You Up is real and I want to read more books that help me understand the minds of others.


What have Mental Health/Mental Illness books made you aware of?

Friday, October 2, 2015

#FitReaders: October 2nd, 2015

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I haven't updated for #FitReaders in the longest time so I'm finally going to now.

I haven't run in awhile and I don't really plan to. I do plan on tracking my steps from now on and get back to tracking my water intake.

I've been working out three times a week (mostly) and I feel great. I can feel a difference in my strength level which I wasn't able to see as much on my own with my workout videos. I'm learning a lot from my cousin so I'm really happy about that. My arms actually have some muscle in them which is truly amazing.

Regular Workout Schedule:

Day #1: Chest and Triceps
Day #2: Backs and Biceps
Day #3: Legs (I didn't get to do this, this week, but I plan on doing squats today so I get something done)

Weekly Steps:

Friday, September 25th: 5,276
Saturday, September 26th: 5,621
Sunday, September 27th: 3,676
Monday, September 28th: 3,828
Tuesday, September 29th: 1,716
Wednesday, September 30th: 7,917
Thursday, October 1st: 1,255

Total Steps: 29,259

I'm hardly consistent. I want to really work hard walking more and taking more steps throughout the day. I want to beat my total steps this week.

How did you do this past week?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2015 Halloween Reading Challenge Goals


Reading Every Season is hosting a reading challenge from October 1st - October 31st. 

"The books can be horror, thriller, supernatural, mystery, or Halloween themed. This means they should be about serial killers, murders, ghosts, demons, witches, monsters, vampires, etc."

I want to get into the October spirit and read some supernatural, thriller, and horror books so I've signed up for this Halloween challenge. I plan on reading at least five books that work for this challenge.

Some books I'm planning to read for this challenge:


I'm looking for some recommendations of horror and witch books to read. Although, any books that would work for this challenge would be great!

October 2015 Book Plans

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I've been gone forever. I never even planned to be gone for a month and a half but that's what happened. The new semester started so I was consumed with that. And I guess I just didn't feel like blogging for a while, however now I'm ready to get back and join the community again. I read a crazy amount of books and I can't wait to read a lot more during October arguably one of the best months to read books.

I've been exercising so much lately. I can actually see in my arms how strong I am. I've been going to the gym three times a week with my cousin who is teaching me. My brother and his girlfriend recently joined us too. I'm just so proud and happy with myself. I just need to focus more on walking and get back to calculating my water intake.

I'm really excited to see how everyone's doing starting tomorrow. So many things could have happened in all of your lives and I haven't been checking in. I'm really happy to get back into blogging and be in this world again after so long. I don't really know why I stopped now that I've started up again. Let me know what you've read lately and if you've read any life changing amazing reads. I would love to know!

Below are some of the books I plan to read this October:




What are you reading this October? Do you have any recommendations for young adult horror books?

October 2015 Reading Road Trip Challenge Link Up


I was gone most of August and all of September. I'm sorry about that to all of you who have been participating in this challenge not being able to link-up your reviews!

 Make sure to link up your review updates below using this format:

State (Book) @ blog/twitter/goodreads. 
For example: Florida (Because of Winn-Dixie) @BooksOnHerMind


If you want to check out what this challenge is all about you can go hereThanks to all who are participating! Remember if you need help ask and I will answer.

Link Up!