It's Been a Hot Minute!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hello fellow book lovers!  It's been a hot minute, hasn't it?  Sorry for kind of disappearing the past few months.  Here's a bit of an update to give you some explanation for why I suddenly stopped blogging regularly.

In November, soon after Jordan and I moved, I had some health issues come up.  I'd been having symptoms for a few months that had been getting progressively worse, and I knew something was wrong.  By the end of the year, I'd gotten settled with a bunch of new doctors and started treatment.  Thankfully my illness isn't life threatening, but it has required a lot of significant medical care, and in February, when I sort of dropped off the blogosphere, I began an intensive outpatient treatment program.  I thought I could keep up with blogging, but it was too much with my ongoing treatments, so I had to take a break.

The good news: I'm finishing out my intensive treatment program, I have a team of really great doctors who have helped me so much in treating my illness and getting it under control, and I am doing much better.  At the beginning, I was pretty overwhelmed by all of the treatments I had to undergo, but I'm so thankful for how much they have helped me and have improved my health.

All that said, I really hope to be more active on here!  I probably won't be able to post quite as much as I was earlier this year.  While I was undergoing treatment, I wasn't able to work.  I've been working in immigration for the past three years, but before that, I had been in higher education.  During my time "off," I had a lot of time to think about my life and where I'm going, and one day, with such clarity that it almost astounded me, I knew that I wanted to go back into teaching.  It just felt right, and I am completely at peace with this decision.  In fact, I'm extremely excited about it!

So that means I'm a student again!  I just started taking courses this week, and I'm working on all of the requirements to get my single subject teaching credential in English.  It feels a little strange to be a student again, but if you know me at all, you know that I love it.  I thrive in the classroom, and I can't wait to be back in it as a teacher again!

For those of you on Instagram and Goodreads, be sure to follow me there.  I'm a little more active and chatty on those platforms since they're built for shorter interactions, and I talk a lot about books and what I'm reading.  I'd love to connect with you!

Here are a few of my recent posts from Instagram:


As always, happy reading!

Where My Books Have Been: Point Loma

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

For a long time, I've thought that I would have loved being a lighthouse keeper.  Far from being scary or undesirable, the solitude, quiet, and even isolation sound simply wonderful.  There would be plenty of time for me to read and write, and I could enjoy either in my cozy house or beautiful outdoor surroundings.  I can get stressed out by a packed social calendar, so I think I'd enjoy the relatively simple life of a lighthouse keeper.  I don't require much to be happy, and I could do all the things I want to do but never seem to be able to fit into my busy life, like sew and knit and scrapbook.  And the ocean views and cool, fresh air are so good for the soul.  Being outside, especially along the coast, is so refreshing and revitalizing for me. 

Given my predilections towards lighthouses and lighthouse keepers, it should come as no surprise that Point Loma is one of my favorite places to spend a quiet weekend morning or afternoon.  The area has lush hiking trails, brimming tide pools, the Cabrillo National Monument, stunning coastal views, and, of course, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.  Jordan and I love Point Loma; even though it draws quite a few tourists, it's never too loud or crowded.  We also love that there are plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the ocean and rolling hills, and we brought our books to enjoy some outdoor reading.  

Point Loma offers stunning views of Downtown San Diego and Coronado.

Where the lighthouse keeper and his family lived.  The actual lighthouse tower wasn't built too tall because the building itself is located on the highest point of the hill at the end of Point Loma.

The lighthouse keeper and his family had their own lush garden, growing much of what they ate right on site. 

A look down at some of the tide pools from the top of the hill.

My future home. 

On this particular trip, the day was overcast and windy, and the tides were pretty high.  Still, the coastline was simply stunning, and it was so peaceful to hear the waves crashing against the rocks as we walked.  It reminded me a little of being back east, which was a nice change from the usual 70 degree and sunny weather we have year-round in San Diego.  There were a lot of birds out, and it was fun to see them soaring through the sky and diving into the ocean for food.   

It's a silly and probably impossible dream, but if one day Jordan and I could live in a place that even approximates Point Loma and the Old Lighthouse, I think we'd jump at the chance. 

Where are your favorite places to read and/or write?  

February Wrap Up

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hello!  Sorry for the unexpected absence.  I started something new this past week, which has been great but also a big adjustment, and it kind of threw me off of my usual routine, particularly blog-wise.  I've been settling into my new schedule over the past few days, and I hope to get back into the regular swing of things this week. 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I've been participating in the Half-Blood Valentine's/February 2015 Book Challenge.  It's been a lot of fun to think of which book(s) best fit each day's prompt and to post pictures every day.  I've also loved following everyone else's posts.  It's been great to see how different people interpret the prompts, and I always enjoyed it when someone chose a book that I hadn't thought of but that perfectly fit the prompt.  The challenge also helped me to keep on top of my reading, reflect on and think more deeply about the books that I've been reading, and to find suggestions for new books to add to my to-be read list.

Here's a look at some of my favorite posts from this past month:

Day 9: Book & Candle

Day 11: Favorite Literary Date

Day 13: Book & Candy

 Day 15: Love Letter in a Book

Day 16: Paranormal Romance

Day 18: Current Read

Day 19: Romantic Cover

Day 20: Recommendation Friday

Day 21: Go-to Author

Day 26: Book BF/GF

Day 27: February Book Haul (clearly I have a problem)

Day 28: Wrap Up and Favorite February Book

Did anyone else participate in the Half-Blood Valentine's/February 2015 Book Challenge on Instagram?  What was your favorite book that you read this month? 

What I'm Reading: We Were Liars

Thursday, February 19, 2015

E. Lockhart's We Were Liars was a pleasant surprise for me.  It's one of those books where the description doesn't tell you much.  Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Pretty sparse, right?  So I didn't really know what to expect going into it, and although the book feels as sparse as its description in many ways, I actually thinks this works well for the story, and I really enjoyed it overall.  It's not the most complex or nuanced story, and it's clear that it's all about the mystery, not the characters, the background, the details, or even the plot really.  

In this way, We Were Liars reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  The characters aren't really flushed out or developed.  In fact, they feel pretty archetypical.  Cady and the other liars feel like typical teenagers, and her mom, aunts, and grandparents feel like typical east coast WASPs.  The language itself is equally stripped down, and Lockhart doesn't give lengthy descriptions or long, complex passages.  She uses just enough words to convey her story, never more than necessary.
Some readers may find the stripped down nature of We Were Liars to be dissatisfying.  But I thought it worked, as it kept me focused on trying to figure out what happened that summer that Cady can't remember.  Not every book has to be an in-depth character study that delves into the complexities of human nature, and that's OK.  Like I said, I think Lockhart was focused on delivering a tightly crafted and satisfying mystery that keeps readers guessing, and in that regard, I think she delivers.  I definitely don't want to spoil anything, but I thought that the twists and revelations in We Were Liars were really good.  The final twist in particular felt incredibly gratifying, and I think I let out an audible "Whoa" when I reached that part.  It really took me by surprise, and it was so good. 

We Were Liars is a quick and relatively easy read, but it delivers a satisfying mystery that pulls readers in.  Four out of five stars. 

Waiting on Wednesday: P.S. I Still Love You

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Today I'm participating in a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Here's a look at an upcoming release that I'm excited to read.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Expected publication date: May 26, 2015

Here's the description from Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the
New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.

I mentioned earlier this week that I spent my Valentine's Day reading Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before.  I love when a book pulls you in so much that you can't put it down, and this is exactly what happened to me.  Lara Jean is such a sweet, imperfect, and fun teenager, and I think she embodies this transitionary and often difficult period of life so well.  She's awkward at times and unsure of herself and her feelings, but she feels so deeply and wants to find her place in her family, her peers, and the world around her.  

I particularly loved how Han captured the relationship between the three Song sisters.  As one of three sisters myself (and a little brother at the tail end), I could relate to their relationships so much, with all of their complex and complicated nuances and beautiful moments.  Being a sister feels impossibly difficult and utterly amazing, often all at the same time, and Han really understands this.  Lara Jean's younger sister Kitty was one of my favorite characters, and I can't wait to see what she's up to in the sequel.   

And of course Peter and all the other boys who Lara Jean loves.  Their stories aren't finished, and I'm anxious to find out what happens next!  I have some strong opinions since I love Lara Jean and Peter so much and really want to see them come together, but I guess I'll just have to see where Han takes their story.  

Is anyone else excited about P.S. I Still Love You?  What books are you most looking forward to?        
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