Review: Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong


I finished this one a few days ago and I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s not my usual genre, but I’ve had the Kindle version for a while so it was time to finally read it. As I normally do, I paired it with the audiobook so I could finish it quicker. The audiobook was great because I couldn’t pronounce any of those Polish names and cities without it. The content was heavy and I went through a few different emotions while reading it — anger, sadness, and disbelief. I still don’t understand how people could be treated that way! It’s not even something I should have to understand because it should have never happened in the first place.

Based on a true story, the story revolves around Halina Shore, a forensic dentist who has been chosen to take part in a war crimes investigation in Poland. The investigation brings up many questions and makes her question everything she knew about her childhood and her own mother . Born in Poland, she emigrated with her mother to Australia when she was a young girl  but whenever she would ask her mother about any family members or what life was like back in Poland, her mother would either change the subject or just not answer the question. Many secrets were revealed and disgusting crimes were uncovered. Although some of the story was obviously made up, I did enjoy the different side stories that developed because they eventually all tied back into the main story.



My Book Jar and Review of Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life by Shannon Kopp

I am terrible about reading ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) in a timely manner. I usually get them at library conferences and have accumulated way too many over the last few years. This year I decided to make a book jar. I wrote down all of the ARC titles plus all of my unread Kindle books on small pieces of paper and put them all in a jar. I made the jar because I wanted to just pull titles randomly. I normally read more than one book at a time and this year I’m making sure to make a dent in the unread books I actually own.

First title I chose was Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life, by Shannon Kopp. I remember originally picking up this book at a library conference in either 2014 or 2015 because of the animal connection. I am a huge dog person but usually avoid books about animals since I usually start crying when an animal character dies. Sounds silly but that’s just me.

Anyway, once I started the book I was hooked. Shannon talked about how her struggle with Bulimia started and how it affected her life both personally and professionally. What really touched me were the stories she told about specific dogs who helped her see what she was doing to herself. I’ve never battled an eating disorder but I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to recover. Even though I did have some crying moments, I really enjoyed this book.  

Review: The Obsession by Nora Roberts


I haven’t read too many of Nora Roberts’ standalone books but I must say I think I prefer them over the trilogies she writes. Her latest one, The Obsession, was so good! I couldn’t put it down and when I did have to put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again. It was a mixture of suspense, drama, romance, and humor and I enjoyed every bit of it. An added plus was the dog character. Books are even more enjoyable to when they have pets in the story. As long as the dog doesn’t die, of course.

Naomi Bowes’ childhood was interrupted when she discovered a woman her father had kidnapped, locked in a cellar on their property. While that was the beginning of the end for him, it was also an event that never left her while growing up (obviously). Reminders, new stories, book deals, there was always something that connected her to her father’s crimes.

The first half of the book details what happens after she finds the young woman and how life changes for her, her brother Mason, and their mother. I found the second half of the story moved at a quicker pace. She’s an adult now and settling down in a new city with new people. Of course the love interest is there too and that relationship alone was pretty electric.

Now that I’ve read a few of her standalone books, I may just try to read them all. Don’t get me wrong, the trilogies I have read were good, but sometimes I don’t want to commit to reading all of the books. It’s hard for me to start a series and not finish it. This morning I added a bunch of her other novels to my TBR list and I’ll probably add more when I get off work today.

Happy Saturday!


Back from my Vacation 

I’m back from Florida and oh my goodness I just want to sleep for a week. While I had a great time at Disney World, each day wore me out. To top things off, my nephew was teething and was petty much miserable the whole time. He has molars coming in, one on each side, poor kid. 

I did a ton of walking each day so I hope that will help counteract the food I ate while I was there. Unless you had reservations for the restaurants, quick-serve places were our only option. We did end up eating in one restaurant at Epcot, The Garden Grill. It was pretty good and gave me the chance to eat some vegetables. 

Disney World is massive and I can see why people plan their trips many months in advance, especially those with children. The prices for everything are high but I expected that. Most of my money went towards food, lol. I didn’t really buy any souvenirs. 

Now that my vacation is over, I feel like I need to do a super clean eating week just to get myself back on track. Chicken, veggies, all that stuff that will bore me after a few days. Definitely need to hit the grocery store soon. 


I finished two books while I was in Florida, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Both were good, but Landline took a while to get me hooked. Red Queen is book 1 of a series and I’ve already put a hold request for the second book, Glass Sword.

I’ve been reading a lot lately and I love it. I’m at 19 books so far, 4 books ahead of schedule. I’ve been getting a ton of book suggestions in one of my reading groups on Facebook but haven’t had a chance to put them on my Goodreads list yet. 

I don’t go back to work until Monday so I’m going to read as much as I can. My ideal day would be a book, a papasan chair (I will get one someday), and tea. 😀

Anyway, I need to go unpack and do laundry. Happy Thursday to you!

Hello, December





It’s been a while since I did an actual update post since I haven’t really had too much to write about. Last month was pretty busy and this month will be too, especially now that the holiday season is here. It’s crazy how there’s only one month left in 2015! I say this every year but time really is going by too fast. There are many upcoming events that I am excited about.

The one thing that bugs me about myself is I can’t seem to reach the goals I set, even the little ones. Sometimes I think it’s because I try and do too much when I know it won’t all be possible to get done in one month. Revisiting my November goals, I met a couple but not all of them.

*I still haven’t finished Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and this is mainly because I’ve been reading a ton of other stuff, fiction of course.

*Didn’t get many miles in. I DID get quite a few strength training workouts in though so that’s better than nothing.

*Didn’t even start on cleaning my closet. My closet is a bit overwhelming so that may need to be done one section at a time. I don’t think I could do it all at one time.

Anyway, here’s a recap of last month:

Went to Vegas for my boyfriend’s birthday. I’m not a huge gambler but I did have some luck at the Blackjack table.

My own birthday was on 11/19. I don’t care as much about birthdays as I used to but it’s always nice when I get birthday phone calls and text messages.

Celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents and cousins. I was off work from my main job at the Regional Center for 5 days and it was wonderful. I still worked at the library but since those shifts were short, it wasn’t too bad. I also ate way too much that weekend, lol. I know I wasn’t the only one though. Also, I’m not big on Black Friday shopping since I worked retail for 11 years. I bought a few things online but that’s about it.

Also on Thanksgiving Day I did some volunteer service with one of the local groups in my area. My friend Brandie and I delivered pre-packed Thanksgiving meals to many families and the experience was both humbling and heartwarming.

In addition to volunteering, I also did the Mustache Dache Virtual 5k. The packet came with a race bib and fake mustache. I took a quick picture with the mustache after I finished running. You can check it out on my Instagram. The mustache was super itchy.

Books read in November

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

The Martian by Andy Weir

Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

I’m aiming to finish 6 books this month, so far I have one down.

Speaking of reading, we’re coming up on the end of the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge and out of the 50 categories, I was able to mark off 23. There’s another one next year and I may attempt it but I doubt I’ll make it through the whole list. As long as I get to read, I’ll be happy.

Finally, here’s a super cute video. Even if you hate this song, you can’t help but smile.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Happy Hump Day


I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday! Just two more days until the weekend.

Last weekend I was pretty active. On Friday I hiked the Claremont Wilderness Trail (a 5 mile loop that kicks my ass each time I do it), ran the Santa Anita 5k, and took a spin class at Pedal Spin. My 5k time wasn’t the greatest but I am going to blame it on the fact that I stopped to take pictures of the peacocks that were roaming around the Arboretum:

SantaAnita2015 SantaAnita2015_2

Peacocks are beautiful! I just wish the sounds they made didn’t sound so annoying.

It’s the last week of my 28 Day Jumpstart and so far I’m proud of my results. I took my measurements yesterday and so far I’m down 1.6 lbs and 5 inches. I’ll do my final measurements next Monday and report the results. I’ll be starting another round of the same program on 4/20/15. If you want to join in, just checkout Fit Girl’s Guide.

I can’t remember if I mentioned it before but I’ve decided to completely start over with running. I’ve never been very consistent and even though I do races all the time, I’ve never trained properly for a race. The only race I trained for was my first race, the 2008 LA Marathon (yes, I did things backwards), and that was as a walker, not a runner. The only reason I trained for that one was because I signed up with Team in Training, which helped raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I’m actually excited to do this because I’ve always wanted to run more than walk in a race. I have a love/hate relationship with running so I’m hoping this idea will help our relationship. 🙂

As of today I’m not signed up for any races but I do plan on signing up for the Carlsbad 1/2 Marathon which is next January and I for sure want to do the LA Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 Marathon again in October. I may end up doing the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 Marathon in November because several of my friends want to do it as a group. The only reason I’m a bit hesitant is because the race is in the evening and that makes me nervous since I’ve never done a night-time race. Even if I don’t end up doing that race, it’s the weekend before my birthday so just Vegas to celebrate will be fun.

As far a reading goes, I’m having a very hard time getting through We Have Always Lived in The Castle. I don’t know what it is but I just can’t stick with it for more than a few pages. Sadly I have this habit that I can’t leave a book unfinished, no matter how much I don’t like it. So far I’ve renewed this book 5 times! It’s due this Saturday so I’m going to try my best to finish it. Couple chapters per day and I will be done.

On a brighter note, I am loving the Don Quixote audiobook! I’ve laughed out loud a few times and I’m only on chapter 8. Fun times.

Back to work for me…

Enjoy the rest of your day!


What are you reading right now?

Do you have any races coming up?

Just Keep Swimming 

March is here. I say this all the time but time really does fly. I’m definitely looking forward to the time change this weekend.

Lately my mind hasn’t been in the right place when it comes to my body image. I’ve been pretty down on myself thanks to my habit of comparing myself to others. I went to a clothing store Sunday night to try on some things and it was an absolute fail, which led me to feel even worse than I already did. It’s really hard to stay positive when sizes you’re used to wearing no longer fit. The only slight upside is the store I went to, their clothes tend to run on the smaller side. Either way, I haven’t been doing well and it’s really starting to get to me. Trying on clothes shouldn’t make a person cry, right?

The thing I like about starting a new month is it is the perfect time to set new goals and focus on what’s ahead, versus just focusing on what happened last month. One of my goals for this month is to stop comparing my journey to others. Nobody is perfect and everyone has setbacks in life and I need to remember that.

Last night I went to the gym and I left feeling pretty good. I got a little run in which was great and it got me excited to do more cardio this month. My library schedule changed a little so I can now go to the gym earlier on Tuesdays versus going at 8:30pm. I’m determined to get past this negative mentality, just have to keep swimming.


What do you do when your spirits are low?

Ok, on to book stuff…

I finished the second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, but I think I’ll wait until I finish the whole series before I attempt a review. Plus, I’d hate to post any spoilers for those who haven’t read the books yet.

What I’m reading:


Turn Coat, Jim Butcher


Red Mist, Patricia Cornwell


We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson

Each title can be counted towards my 2015 Reading Challenge, which I’m already behind on :-). *Shoulder shrug* Oh well, I’m still doing what I love.

What did you read last month?

What are you planning on reading this month?