Category Archives: Books

Grow in February

Happy February everyone!!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful winter, and that all is well with you.

grow-in-2017

I’ve got a few new blog posts up on my Ananda Yoga & Fitness website.  The latest post is our Growing in February goals.  It’s never too late to join in and #GrowIn2017!!

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I also have some new spin ride profiles!  Check out the Valentine’s Day ride!  It’s a love hate kinda ride.  😉

rare-objects

If you are looking for a good read, check out Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro.  I absolutely loved this book and the story line!

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I also recently read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  What an amazing book from a first time author.  Definitely read it.  You’ll find yourself laughing and tearing up during this fast read.  My favorite character was the cat.  You’ll understand once you start reading.

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Read It!

Happy Monday Everyone!!

As promised from my last post, today’s blog post is my latest book recommendations.  So, pull up your Amazon wish list, Goodreads app, Book Buddies app, or just a paper and pencil and get ready to get these books added to your lists!!  Oh…Grab yourself some coffee too!

Alright…I’ll do this in batches.  When I first got all the books together that I wanted to recommend (only the ones I had read in the past 6 months) I discovered that my list was way too long for a single blog post, so I’ll have more blog posts with book recommendations coming your way each month with more and more great reads.

For this post I’m gonna stick with 7 books, and hopefully they will tide you over till next month.  I also want to point out that I love many different types of genres, so you will see chick lit, historical fiction, teen lit, biographies, etc!

Books

This first stack of books contains a few authors I had never read before, and yes Nora Roberts is one of them.  Now don’t start judging me by recommending a romance author.

dark witch

The Dark Witch by Nora Roberts came highly recommended to me by my friend, Claudine, and she is a book worm just like me with great taste.  I got Claudine hooked on the Discovery of Witches Trilogy, and she swore to me that I would love Nora Roberts latest instalments.  When she told me I had to read the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (Dark Witch is the first book in the trilogy) I rolled my eyes, and I’m pretty sure I laughed at her.  I too can be a book snob, and I put Nora Roberts into that category of lame/pathetic/cheesy/drivel.  Sadly, I should know better than to categorize an author I’ve never even read.  I absolutely loved the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, and read them all in 4 days!  They definitely were NOT drivel.  I fell in love with each character and their spunk from the beginning.

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I also want to point out that the gorgeous setting of this trilogy takes place at and actual resort in Ireland, Ashford Castle.  I’m already planning a bucket list vacation to Ashford, since I absolutely fell in love with this castle throughout the O’Dwyer Trilogy.  So, if you are looking for a fast paced, adventure filled, exciting read, and yes it is filled with magic and a bit of romance this is a book/trilogy you HAVE to read!

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland…

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

On to the next book I devoured in one day…

Leaving Time

Jodi Picoult first grabbed my attention with her historical fiction novel, The Storyteller (If you haven’t read it add it to the list too).  Picoult’s latest novel, Leaving Time, is another moving tale dealing with loss, mystery, and finding help and friends where you least expect them.  This is honestly a book unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I’m sure you will fall into this tale and never want to come out of it.  You may also find yourself championing the cause of elephants and their futures once you have finished this novel.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.
 
Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.
 
As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

Prisoner of Night and Fog

The Prisoner of Night and Fog was a book our book club read awhile back.  I started this book one night when I climbed into bed, and I didn’t storp reading it till I was done somewhere around 3am.  I was dragging butt the next day, but it was totally worth it. I know you will love this story!   Here is a brief description…

A gripping historical thriller set in 1930s Munich, Prisoner of Night and Fog is the evocative story of an ordinary girl faced with an extraordinary choice in Hitler’s Germany. Fans of Code Name Verity will love this novel full of romance, danger, and intrigue!

Gretchen Müller grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her uncle Dolf—who has kept her family cherished and protected from that side of society ever since her father sacrificed his life for Dolf’s years ago. Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

When she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen, who claims that her father was actually murdered by an unknown comrade, Gretchen doesn’t know what to believe. She soon discovers that beyond her sheltered view lies a world full of shadowy secrets and disturbing violence.

As Gretchen’s investigations lead her to question the motives and loyalties of her dearest friends and her closest family, she must determine her own allegiances—even if her choices could get her and Daniel killed.

big little lies

Liane Moriarty is a favorite author of mine, so obviously I’ve read all her books.  Big Little Lies is Moriarty’s latest and greatest story to date.  It’s a tale of moms, private schools, money, snobbery and …murder!

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.  

But who did what?
 Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

one plus one

One Plus One is the first JoJo Moyes novel I have read.  I kept seeing her books in the books store on the best sellers rack, and my friends have been telling me to read her books nonstop.  Well, a few months ago I finally broke down and bought one.

Right when I read first chapter, I knew I would be hooked. You have your unique but somewhat regular family. Jess is a single mother with two kids, her ex husband left 2 years ago and she’s trying to meet ends. Her daughter Tanzie is brilliant! She gets offered a scholarship into private school but there is still a charge that needs to be paid off. When Jess tries to take her to Olympiad in hopes that the winnings could cover the tuition, Jess ends up going on a roadtrip with Ed, an attractive stranger who steals her heart.

Now that I’m trying to write this review, I’m already missing Jess and her children. I thought it was genius to have the book written from everyone’s point of views, because it definitely made me connect with everyone more. I loved everyone. Jess, Ed, NORMAN!, Nicky, Tanzie.  Their conversations were funny, thoughtful, and Jess’s optimism wasn’t over the top. Typically I don’t like books are that too sweet but Jess has some wittiness to her, and Ed definitely had his flaws that made me love him even more.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
 
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

the girl who came home

Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic—a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

Ireland, 1912. Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.

Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

The rosie project

The Rosie Project is one of those laugh out loud stories that draw you in from the first chapter.

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut “navigates the choppy waters of adult relationships, both romantic and platonic, with a fresh take (USA TODAY). “Filled with humor and plenty of heart, The Rosie Project is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we’re wired, just want to fit in” (Chicago Tribune).

I hope y’all find these recommendations as fun, engaging, and sleep depriving as I did!  Happy Reading!!

 

Amazon.com Widgets

Reconstructing Amelia

Happy FRIDAY!!  WhooHoo Friday Baby!!  Anyone else this excited for the weekend?  It is 9am and I already have our back screen door open, and the fresh warm air coming in.

I’m telling ya…These warm temps we are having are great, and they have put me in the blog sharing/writing mode too!  Or, I’m totally stalling on cleaning the basement, vacuuming the steps (something I consider torture), and mopping our upstairs.  I’ll let you decide on that one…

I wanted to share a book recommendation with ya today and I just couldn’t wait till next week to share it!

These past few months have been great reading months for me!  Each book has had me hooked from the beginning all the way through to the end.  I’ll have a post on Monday for ya with all of my latest and favorite reads.

The book I just finished, Reconstructing Amelia, was just amazing!  It is one of those books that I found at the bottom of my to-read stacks, and I’m pretty sure I’ve owned it for over a year now.  I know that is sad, but my to-read stacks are getting out of control, and I’m very proud of my book buy addiction.

Reconstructing Amelia was a tragic story that pertains to the world our children live in today.  It also deals with the issues parents face when communicating (or not communicating) with their children, how far a parent should trust their teenager, and where a parent should intrude on their child’s privacy.  All are issues that I know parents with teenagers face.  Especially the issue of following your child’s actions on the internet like a hawk.  I know I’ll follow all my child’s internet actions until the day he moves out (he isn’t allowed to even get on Facebook until he is 16…or maybe 20…I’m not sure yet).

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.

Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.

 

Once I finished Reconstructing Amelia, I immediately went on Amazon to see if the author, Kimberly McCreight, had any other books publish.  Guess what?  McCreight just published a new novel, Where They Found Her, on Tuesday, April 15th!  What kind of incredible luck do I have!?!  Usually I’m pacing and waiting for an authors next book to come out.  Of course, I just ordered it, and I cannot wait to read it!

There is more…They are making Reconstructing Amelia into a movie staring Nichole Kidman!!  I’m actually going to go see this book turned movie too.  I usually avoid books that have been turned into movies.  Nine times out of ten, I walk out of the theater thoroughly disappointed or pissed off at what they did to the story.  However, with this story I’m really intrigued to see how the movie comes out.

 

We Have a Winner!

Dr. Seuss Quotes

Before I announce the winner of the book giveaway, I would like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s post.  I truly appreciate all the kind, motivating, and helpful comments.  It is good to know that there is a light out there at the end of the tunnel, and you have all made me feel so much better about finding a way back into my running game.

Autographed Copy

The winner of the totally awesome AUTOGRAPHED copy of the New York Times Best Seller, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, is Mindy @ Road Runner Girl!!!  Look for an email from me today Mindy, so that I can get your address.  My email address is, andreach2@yahoo.com.

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For part of the Giveaway, I asked everyone to comment on what their favorite book or books are.  Here is what was listed, and I’m so glad everyone shared.  From everyone’s comments I was able to discover some great new books to read!

Since all of us don’t take enough time to just sit down and read, I’m keeping today’s post short.  Instead, I want you to take some time today to pick up a book and read!  Happy Reading!!

Operation Cookie Drop

I know after yesterday’s post many of you are curious as to how “operation cookie” drop went.  Well…It was a smashing success!!  Only 2 people swore at me when they saw me dropping off the cookies, and then swore at me a bit more while they were eating the cookies.  I consider that a major success (I know what you are thinking…no I don’t feel guilty, and yes I notice the hypocrisy), and I didn’t eat a single Girl Scout cookie. I even got a bit carried away with the whole “running from Girl Scouts” theme, and told my classes that the Girl Scouts were chasing us while we were doing our sprints in Spinning, and they were trying to make us eat their cookies.  Everyone laughed at this quite a bit, and it helped keep their minds off of all the sprints I was making them do in our Killer Ladders class.

I do have one small problem on the cookie front still…I have to go back to the grocery store tomorrow afternoon to get some more fresh produce and milk.  However, I have my fail safe plan all ready for execution.  This time I will go out the other exit where the Girl Scouts are not at.  How is that for pure genius!?!  Don’t you wish you had my brains?  Although, heaven help me if they are at both exits next time.  Those girls can be pretty crafty little buggers.  After all, they get merit badges for crafts!

The American Heiress

Now to go from cookies to our book club meeting.  We read the The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.  Most of our group found the book a bit predictable, monotonous, and farfetched.  If you are reading this Ms. Goodwin, I’m so sorry.  I don’t like writing anything negative about books.  I read this book last summer, and I found it to be a nice light read.  We then discussed the fashion, food, and culture of the late 1800s, which is the time period the book was set in.

strawberries

Our hosts made the theme for the evening “indulgence,” so while we were discussing the book, we ate some gorgeous and delicious chocolate covered strawberries.  Fruit and chocolate?…I don’t see how this can be bad!  Then, after our discussion we had chocolates, specialty cheeses, designer crackers, and chocolate cake from heaven.  There were also magazine door prizes to go along with the whole fashion theme in the book and tourist magazines for England.  Sorry I don’t have more pictures for you of the wonderful food, but I had to leave early when my son and husband called saying they were stuck in the snow.

The Dovekeepers

Next month we are reading The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman.  Now, I’ll be honest.  I started this book last year, got stuck and set it down on page 82, and I haven’t picked it back up since.  Has anyone read this book?  Opinions?

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY I have going on for an autographed copy of The Fault in our Stars by John Green!  I could not put this book down once I started it!!

Workout Wednesday 2

It is Workout Wednesday time!  This is a quick 15 minute workout that you can literally do anywhere!  All you need is your own body!  If you are unsure of how to do one of the exercises, there are links to examples on my Exercise Glossary page.  Remember to stretch when you are done!
15 Minute Burner

Reading Month Giveaway!!

I had such a great weekend!  We had some amazing weekend weather here in North Dakota on Saturday, and I was living up every second of it.  Saturday was crystal clear, no wind, and 34 degrees, so it felt more like it was in the upper 40s.  Since, it was relatively warm for North Dakota, I decided to spend as much time outside as I could.

furbutt walk

First up were dog walks for the furbutts!  It has been over 2 months since we have been able to go for a walk with the dogs, so the minute I grabbed the leash there was a mad rush for the door to see who would be first in line to go for a walk.  Lady and I headed out for a nice fast paced 2 mile walk.  Then, Tilly drug me out of the house, down the front steps and down the road.  Sweet little Tilly forgot how to “heal”, and we spent our 2 miles remembering our training.  By this point I had shed my winter coat and was down to a light long sleeved shirt.  Next up was Hank.  Hank doesn’t go slower than a 6 minute mile, and the roads were still slick with snow, so I took him out to a field next to our house to run.  He had a blast and pointed 2 pheasants and a grouse.

Next up was a snowball fight with my son!  For a 7 year old, he has amazing aim and can form a snowball faster than I can!  Sorry for not having a picture to share with you.  We had quite the epic battle going on, and the dogs were taking his side!  I got tackled down by Hank while trying to retreat for cover!  Hank is my dog too…talk about a traitor!

The Fault in Our Stars

Sunday was a relaxing day.  I got up and started reading the greatest book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green .  I became engrossed from the first page, and I was quite upset when I had to set it down to drive to work and teach a Spinning class.  I always love teaching my classes, and look forward to teaching, but I really wanted to continue reading.  As a matter of fact, I’m trying to type as fast as I can here so that I can get back to reading.  Green’s style of writing and story line just pull you in.

Autographed Copy

Which brings me to the GIVEAWAY!!  February is Right-to-Read month, and since I’m a big fan of reading (see Must Read Before You Die and Good Read Suggestions ) I want to encourage you to read too.  Right now you can enter to win a free AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green!!!  How awesome is that!?!  I’m a total dork, so I get really excited about signed copies, and I hope you do to.  Target is always selling autographed copies, and when I saw the autographed copies of The Fault in Our Stars I knew I had to grab one to giveaway.  Entries close at 11:59pm on February 21st.  I’ll announce the winner in Friday, the 22nds, post.  You can earn 5 entries towards the Gievaway, and here is how you earn them, make sure you leave a comment below for each entry you made:

Saturday Shares

Unbroken

I finished Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand!  Our book club met last Monday to discuss Unbroken, and everyone absolutely loved it!  This book has made my Must Read Before You Die list.  This story truly showed what, “The power and strength of the human body and mind and soul can handle in extreme situations.”  You will find yourself immersed in the Pacific War and unable to let go.  There is love, forgiveness, trials, and heartache.  Hillenbrand does an amazing job capturing Louis Zamparini’s life in her latest novel.

The American Heiress

For next month our book club is reading The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.  I read this novel last summer, and I found it to be a nice summer read.

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Looking for something fun to do at home with your kids? Domestic Charm has come up with a great Glow-in-the-Dark Slime recipe that will allow your kids to be creative without spending a bunch of money! All the ingredients can be found at your local craft store too!

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It is winter and freezing cold here, so one can never have enough soup.  One of my favorite food bloggers, Country Cleaver, came up with this 40 Clove Garlic Soup with Parmesan Croutons recipe, and it sounds divine.  It will be on our menu as soon as I get back from Florida!

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Valentine Peanut Butter Hearts and Coconut Hearts from The Sugar-Free Mom.  These special treats are dairy free, gluten free, and diabetic friendly!

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Homemade Cheez Its from Cooking a la Mel! They’re super easy and you only need four ingredients (including salt). No dyes, nothing artificial and the recipe uses whole wheat flour.  This is a recipe I make quite a bit in our home.

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Inaugural Virtual Bacon Challenge and 5K! This is a virtual run and bacon challenge from March 8, 2013 through March 17, 2013. The cost is $30.00 for adults and children and includes a fantastic FINISHER MEDAL!!!!!! This is a great chance to involve children and get them interested in something ‘outside the box’!!! Participants will complete 3.1 miles over the 10 days and eat 3 pieces of bacon while doing so (if you break up your run, you don’t need to eat bacon every time you run….although it’s bacon, why not??)  Proceeds go to the The New England Aquarium’s hands-on, traveling education programs.

Menu planners and grocery shopping lists are a great way to help you plan out your groceries and healthy/clean eating for the week. Below are some great free printable planners you can use. Just click on the planner to go to the web site to print it out!

Grocery Shopping Printable List

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Shopping List