Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bookish Goals: December Status Update

Last year I did not complete my "Bookish Goals" I listed on my Top Ten Tuesday post.  In an effort to help keep myself on track this year, I am going to post occasional status updates.

This is the last status update for 2014.  Overall it was a great year filled with enjoyable books.  I completed a few challenges and fell a little short in others, but there is always next year :)

  • Read and review at least 45 books - 
    1. The Elite by Kiera Cass
    2. Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer
    3. Beautiful Dreams by Alicia Rae
    4. After The End by Amy Plum
    5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
    6. Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter
    7. Panic by Lauren Oliver
    8. Body & Soul by Stacey Kade
    9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
    10. Frostbite by Richelle Mead
    11. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
    12. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
    13. The Guard by Kiera Cass
    14. This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready
    15. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
    16. Losing It by Cora Carmack
    17. Finally Forever by Katie Kacvinsky
    18. Faking It by Cora Carmack
    19. Keeping Her by Cora Carmack
    20. Breakable by Tammara Webber
    21. The Hunt by Stacey Kade
    22. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
    23. The One by Kiera Cass
    24. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
    25. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
    26. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
    27. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    28. Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky
    29. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
    30. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
    31. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
    32. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
    33. Shatter Point by Jeff Altabef
    34. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
    35. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
    36. 4th of July by James Patterson
    37. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
    38. Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini
  • Read books from at least 10 "new to me" authors.
    1. Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy
    2. John Green - The Fault In Our Stars
    3. Lynn Cullen - Mrs. Poe
    4. Holly Black - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
    5. Cora Carmack - Losing It
    6. Brodi Ashton - Everneath
    7. Robin Constantine - The Promise of Amazing
    8. Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
    9. Rick Riordan - The Lightning Thief
    10. Chris Cleave - Little Bee
    11. E. Lockhart - We Were Liars
    12. Jeff Altabef - Shatter Point
    13. Natalie Lloyd - A Snicker of Magic
  • Read at least 10 New Adult books
  1. Losing It by Cora Carmack
  2. Finally Forever by Katie Kacvinsky
  3. Faking It by Cora Carmack
  4. Breakable by Tammara Webber
  5. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
    • Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - I read books 4 - 6 over the past couple of years.  I wanted to read the final book last year, but I didn't get around to it.  Hopefully I will have time to read it this year.
      • I still have not started reading Harry Potter.  
    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read.
      1. Body & Soul (Final book in the Ghost & The Goth Series by Stacey Kade)
      2. Finally Forever (Final book in the First Comes Love Series by Katie Kacvinksy)
      3. The One (Final book in The Selection Series by Kiera Cass)
      4. Still Point (Final book in the Awaken Series by Katie Kacvinsky)
      5. Isla and the Happily Ever After (Final book in the Anna and the French Kiss series)
    • Attend BEA this year.
      • Flo and I had a FABULOUS time at BEA this year.  I can't wait for next year's trip.
    • Read at least 20 books from my TBR list that are not 2014 new releases for the TBR Pile Reading Challenge.
      1. The Elite by Kiera Cass - Release date 4/23/13
      2. Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer - Release date 12/10/13
      3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - Release date 8/16/07
      4. Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter - Released 1/1/09
      5. Body & Soul by Stacey Kade - Released 5/1/2012
      6. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - Released 1/1/2012
      7. Frostbite by Richelle Mead - Released 3/10/2008
      8. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen - Release date 9/10/2013
      9. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Release date 9/3/2013
      10. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead - Release date 11/13/2008
      11. Losing It by Cora Carmack - Release date 10/12/12
      12. Faking It by Cora Carmack - Release date 6/4/13
      13. Everneath by Brodi Ashton - Release date 1/24/12
      14. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella - Release date 1/21/2009
      15. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine - 12/31/2013
      16. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Release date 3/14/2006
      17. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan - Release date 3/21/2005
      18. Little Bee by Chris Cleave - Release date 2/10/2009
      19. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan - Release date 1/1/2006
      20. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead - Release date 8/25/2009
      21. 4th of July by James Patterson - Release date 1/1/2005
      • Read at least 15 books in this year's Sequel Challenge
        1. The Elite by Kiera Cass - The Selection Series #2
        2. Beautiful Dreams by Alicia Rae - Beautiful Series #3
        3. Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter - Gallagher Girls #3
        4. Body & Soul by Stacey Kade - Ghost & the Goth #3
        5. Frostbite by Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy #2
        6. The Guard by Kiera Cass - The Selection Series 2.5
        7. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy #3
        8. Finally Forever by Katie Kacvinsky - First Comes Love #3
        9. Faking It by Cora Carmack - Losing It #2
        10. Breakable by Tammara Webber - Contours of the Heart #2
        11. The Hunt by Stacey Kade - Project Paper Doll #2
        12. The One by Kiera Cass - The Selection #3
        13. Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky - Awaken Series #3
        14. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - Anna #3
        15. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan - Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
        16. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy #4
        17. 4th of July by James Patterson - Women's Murder Club #4

      Sunday, December 28, 2014

      Review: Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

      Goodreads Summary:

      This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

      Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

      What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.


      Trial By Fire was one of the books I was most excited about picking up at BEA this year.  I LOVED Josephine's Starcrossed series and couldn't wait to get my hands on the first book in her new series.

      The concept for this book was very unique.  Witches are the rulers of the cities in the new universe Lily is transported to.  They can convert heat into energy to power the cities, grow food, heal the sick, etc.  Josephine did a remarkable job of incorporating the history of the Salem Witch Trials throughout the story.  As much as I wanted to love this book, it was a slow read for me.

      A good story, in my opinion, is built around the relationships between the characters.  For a large portion of this book there were trust issues, so the relationships were slow to develop.  Also, Lily had a lot to learn about witchcraft and how things worked in the new world.  This required a lot of detailed explanation, which at times was lengthy and confusing.

      On a positive note, I did find the ending to be very exciting.  If the sequel picks up where this book left off, we should have a continuous progression to the story without all of the history lessons.  I also hope there will be more to the romance to help keep the pages turning.  If both of those things happen, I think it was well worth persevering through Trial By Fire.  This series has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing what will happen next.

      Wednesday, December 17, 2014

      Waiting on Wednesday: The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine

      Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. 

      The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine
      Release Date: April 28, 2015

      I enjoyed The Promise of Amazing, which was Robin Constantine's debut novel.  This looks like it will be another cute YA romance. can you go wrong when the description says it is perfect for Stephanie Perkins and Jennifer E. Smith fans.  I haven't read anything yet by Sarah Mlynoski, but it sounds like I need to check out her books as well.

      Goodreads Overview: 

      Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine's debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jennifer E. Smith.

      Madison Pryce thinks she's got everything figured out—she's working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie's life upside down.

      Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again.

      Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse's band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.

      Friday, December 12, 2014

      Review: A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

      A Snicker of Magic

      The librarian at my son's school selected A Snicker of Magic for their fourth and fifth grade book club.  Both the parent and child had to read the book.  We then attended a discussion with other students, parents, and teachers.  I thought it was a great opportunity for my son, so I signed us up.

      The book had a nice message, but it was a very slow read.  There were a couple of main characters, Felicity and Jonah,  but those characters traveled around town and met several additional characters.  Jonah shared magical ice cream with the people they met, which caused them to remember stories from their past.  This led to the introduction of even more characters.  It was difficult for an adult to keep track of all of the characters and next to impossible for my nine year old son. 

      Felicity Pickle comes from a wandering family.  Her mother can't seem to sit still and constantly moves her two daughters from one town to the next.  The girls never have a chance to develop friendships or get used to a school.  One day, they arrive in Midnight Gulch.  The town used to be filled with magic, but the magic left a long time ago.  It is believed that two local musicians known as the Weatherly Brothers took part in a duel years ago.  The person who lost the duel was destined to have a wandering spirit and could not return to Midnight Gulch.  Without the Weatherly's music the town lost its magic.  There is still a "snicker of magic" left, but not enough to entice anyone to stay in this mountain town.  It becomes Felicity's mission to solve the riddle and restore the magic to Midnight Gulch.   

      The book never really captured either of our attention.  We probably would have stopped reading altogether if it weren't for the book club.  The only portion that Preston seemed to enjoy was the reenactment of the duel at the end of the book.  He also enjoyed the unusual words Felicity invented, such as spindiddly.  The words were fun to say and added some originality to the story.  I just wish there was more to the plot and the pace was a lot faster.  

      Monday, November 17, 2014

      Marathon Monday: Columbus Hot Chocolate 5K

      Yesterday was the Columbus Hot Chocolate 5K.  It was a little cold at the start (32 degrees), but once we got started it was actually quite comfortable if you dressed appropriately.

      Here are some pictures from the race:

      Preston loved the fondue mug I received at the finish.  He did let me have the hot chocolate since he already had his own :)

      My Official Race Results
      Finish Time: 27:04
      Average Pace: 8:43
      Overall Place: 416th out of 6670
      All Females: 187th out of 5298
      Female 35 -39: 19th out of 719

      Thursday, November 13, 2014

      Review: 4th of July by James Patterson

      4th of July (Women's Murder Club, #4)

      This is the fourth book in the Women's Murder Club series.  Lindsay Boxer is a homicide detective for the San Francisco police department.  While off duty she was having a couple of margaritas with the other members of the murder club...chief medical examiner Claire Washburn and Cindy Thomas, a local reporter.  The three women often collaborate on cases, so this was par for the course until Lindsay's former partner called.  He found a car matching the description of the car spotted leaving two murder scenes and he was on the way to pick her up.

      The events that transpire leave Lindsay in the hot seat.  She is accused of wrongful death and is on trial for a large portion of the story.  We are introduced to her attorney, Yuki Castellano.  I'm confident we will see a lot more of Yuki throughout this series as the newest member of the Women's Murder Club.

      Lindsay was advised to take some time off to relax and prepare for her trial.  Her sister offers Lindsay her beach house as a place to escape the media circus until the start of the trial.  It doesn't take Lindsay long to notice that several murders that occur while she is visiting this small coastal town have similarities to one of her cold cases.  She begins investigating and eventually earns the trust and respect of the local sheriff.  Together they work to solve the viscous murders.  

      From the beginning we are able to see the murderers plot and execute the crimes.  We know that three people are working together, but we have no idea who the perpetrators are until the very end.  I never would have guessed one of the character's involvement, but the other two I considered suspects from the very beginning.  The one twist that I did find interesting was the reason for the murders.  These weren't random acts of violence like they appeared to be.  

      It looks like there are now 14 books in this series, so I have a long way to go if I'm going to catch up. 

      Wednesday, November 12, 2014

      Waiting on Wednesday: Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

      Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. 

      Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols
      Release Date: January 13, 2015

      I picked up a copy of Biggest Flirts at BEA earlier this year.  I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I just discovered this is going to be a series.  Perfect Couple will be the second book in the series and the Most Likely To Succeed is scheduled to be released in August 2015.  

      What a cute idea!!  Instead of continuing the series with the same main characters each book will focus on the winners of a different yearbook category.  

      Perfect Couple (Superlatives, #2)Goodreads Overview:

      Can your heart be put to a popular vote?

      As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents' bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

      Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can't see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they've found themselves drawn together--first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

      The trouble is, though they're very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

      Tuesday, November 11, 2014

      Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

      Blood Promise is the fourth book in the Vampire Academy series.  ***If you haven't read the third book in the series you may not want to read this review.  I will not give any spoilers from Blood Promise, but I can't discuss this book without giving spoilers from Shadow Kiss***

      Rose sets off on a mission to find and kill Dimitri after he was turned into a Strigoi at the conclusion of Shadow Kiss.  She searches aimlessly all over Russia and eventually ends up in his home town where she has the opportunity to meet his family.  She sees what life is like in a Dhampir city and is introduced to another group known as Alchemists.  Alchemists are similar to the MIBs in Men in Black.  Instead of keeping aliens a secret from human society, they try to keep the vampire world hidden.

      Rose is also introduced to another spirit user and her shadow kissed partner.  She sees how well they can balance their positive and negative energy, but they have had many more years of experience.  She realizes they have a lot to learn, but at least there is hope for her and Lissa.  Lissa and Adrian continue to hone their skills, but Rose can see that Lissa is beginning to spiral out of control.  She needs to find Dimitri and return to Lissa as soon as possible.

      I enjoyed the story, but it did not capture my attention like the first three books in the series.  I flew through the other books, but this one took me over a month and a half to complete.  I read 40 pages or so and then read another book.  I returned to Blood Promise for another 40 pages and then read something else.  This process continued until I was about two thirds of the way through.  At that point I was hooked and flew through the last part of the story.  

      The first problem that I had was that there wasn't enough of Adrian and Christian in this story.  I love both of those characters and their appearances were far and few between.  Also...with Rose telling the story from Russia while everyone else was at St. Vladimir's, it didn't provide the same level of dialog and interaction.  Rose would slip into Lissa's head every now and then so we could see what was happening at the Academy or The Royal Court, but it always felt like we were outsiders looking in.  The new characters we were introduced to were not nearly as engaging and there was a lengthy period of time in which Rose was "contained" and very little took place.  We were in a loop that I thought might never end.    

      There was a glimmer of hope for the series within the last few chapters.  Richelle set up what could be a VERY exciting next book in the series.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but it looks like Lissa and Rose will need to head out on another quest.  I just hope they include Christian and Adrian this time.

      Monday, November 10, 2014

      Movie Review: Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters

      My son and I just finished reading The Sea of Monsters and picked up the movie from the library.  This movie contains a ton of action and tells a great story.  Just don't expect it to be the same story Rick Riordan told.  From the very first scene to the final battle there were noticeable differences between the book and movie that even my nine year old quickly picked up on. 

      The special effects were great!!  Here is Percy fighting the bull:

      Tyson with the hippocampus:

      We also enjoyed the addition of Tyson's character - Percy's cyclops half-brother.  He added some comedic relief which was not present in the first book or movie.  

      Here is Tyson with "the mist"

      Without the mist:

      The first two movies in this series were very successful at the box office, so I am surprised they haven't already moved ahead with production of the next film.  I tried to find a release date, but the project appears to be on hold.  With the success of both of the Percy Jackson book series I can't imagine why they wouldn't race to complete as many of the movies as they can before the actors are too old to play the characters.  

      It wouldn't have been the same if someone other than Daniel Radcliffe finished out the Harry Potter series and the same would be true in this case.

      Regardless...Preston wants to pick up The Titans Curse the next time we are at the library.

      Friday, October 31, 2014

      Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

      The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)

      My nine-year-old son and I have been working our way through the Percy Jackson series since the beginning of the summer.  We just finished reading The Sea of Monsters and found it to be just as entertaining as the first book in the series.  

      This book starts out with Percy getting into an altercation at school.  Just when he thinks he will finally complete a full year without getting expelled...the monsters attack.  Percy and his friend Tyson flee to Camp Half Blood just in time to discover that Chiron has been relieved of his duties at the camp and Thalia's tree is dying.  This means the protective barrier around the camp is failing and it will no longer be a safe haven for the demigods.  The only way to save the camp is to retrieve the Golden Fleece and bring it to the camp, but time is running out.   

      Once Tyson was allowed into Camp Half Blood it didn't take Percy long to discover his friend is actually his half brother and a son of Poseidon.  Tyson is a very friendly 8 year-old cyclops.  The two brothers and Annabeth set out on an unauthorized quest to save the camp and rescue Grover, who is being held captive in The Sea of Monsters by a nearly blind cyclops that wants to marry him.  It will take a son of Poseidon to find the island and Percy's connection with Grover to locate the satyr, but Clarisse is selected to complete the quest.  Rather than working together, the two groups set out on their own.  

      This is a captivating story with a ton of action.  My son often loses interest in a story, but that has not been the case with Percy Jackson.  He even wanted to be Percy for Halloween this year, but unfortunately we couldn't find a costume his size.  Perhaps if we continues reading the series, and he decides earlier that he wants to be Percy, we will have time to make a costume for next year.  

      Monday, October 27, 2014

      Review Tour and Giveaway: Shatter Point by Jeff Altabef

      Shatter Point


      I have been a fan of murder mysteries for a long time.  I'm currently reading the Kay Scarpetta series, The Women's Murder Club, the King and Maxwell series,and a few others.  Shatter Point is very well written and kept me engaged from start to finish.  Very few authors write stand-alone mysteries, so that in and of itself is note worthy.  It is nice to be able to read a book and not feel like I'm on the hook for the next several years.

      The book bounces between a few different stories which converge about two thirds of the way through.  I found this to be a little confusing at first.  Once I worked through the first several chapters, I began to connect with the characters and everything fell into place.

      The story is set several years into the future in a country that is clearly divided.  There are the extremely wealthy and the poor.  The government is run by the wealthy, so there is very little advancement opportunity for those who are not part of the elite.  Dr. Beck is one of the few exceptions.  He grew up in an orphanage, but his exceptional test scores earned him the opportunity to attend college.  He is on the verge of creating a cure for Alzheimer's, but the government has alternate plans for his research.

      Cooper first met Maggie while his family was vacationing at a resort for the summer.  Her parents worked at the resort, but Cooper took an interest in her.  He quickly became obsessed with her, but she could see past his good looks and charming personality.  He had an explosive temper that she couldn't ignore.

      When Maggie disappears her two sons, Jack and Tom, turn to the Fourteenth Colony for help.  This is an underground resistance to the over powering government that has taken over the country.  The organization's goal is to restore democracy and the chance for the American dream.  Tom and Jack quickly discover that their great aunt Jackie and mother have been hiding family secrets since well before they were born.  
      The link between Dr. Beck, Cooper, Maggie, and the underground resistance was intricately woven throughout the story.  With surprises around every corner, I found this to be a very fast paced story that I simply could not put down.  I would highly recommend this book to any adult who enjoys murder mysteries.  (There is some graphic violence, so this is not for younger readers.)  

      I've already added Jeff Altabef's Fourteenth Colony to my to-be-read list.  While Shatter Point is a stand-alone novel, Fourteenth Colony appears to provide the back story.

      About the Author:

      Jeff AltabefJeff Altabef lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of "telling stories," he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Fourteenth Colony, a political thriller, is his debut novel. Jeff has a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories. You can find his blog, The Accidental Writers Workshop, on The Patch. Jeff also rights a column for The Examiner under the byline - The Accidental Writer.

      Connect with Jeff on his websiteFacebookTwitter,or GoodReads.

      Enter to win Prizes!!!

      About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Shatter Point! Here's what you need to do...
      1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
      2. Leave a comment on my blog
      That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE.

      The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Shatter Point tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      Monday, October 20, 2014

      Marathon Monday: Columbus Half Marathon

      On Sunday October 19th I ran my first half marathon.  It was a chilly 45 degrees at the start, but it turned out to be a perfect day for running.  It warmed up into the low to mid 50s and it was clear and sunny.

      The Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon/Half Marathon sold out in record time with 18,000 participants.  The event raised 3 million dollars for Children's Hospital and for the most part was a huge success.  From start to finish I felt like the race ran smoothly.  The course was flat and I enjoyed running through downtown Columbus and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Here are a few pictures from the start.

      There was an impressive fireworks display and I loved the fireworks above the starting line.

      They changed the course this year, so runners went past Children's Hospital.  This was a very nice additional along with the Children's Champions who were at many of the mile markers.  I tried to high five all of the children with the orange hands that I saw along the way.

      Marathon Childrens Hospital

      Marathon patient champion

      There were some minor issues after the finish line, which hopefully they will be able to correct before next year's race.  First, the medals were not at the finish line until close to two and a half hours after the start of the race.  When they did arrive, there were only two volunteers opening boxes and distributing them to a very large number of cold and tired runners.  Every other race I have participated in had dozens of volunteers distributing medals immediately after the finish line....before the food/water distribution area.

      The pickup area for the checked gear was immediately after the food distribution (in an area that spectators had access to) so it was VERY crowded.  Fortunately I didn't check any gear, but they decided to pass out the medals (once they arrived) in this same area, which compounded the congestion.  I would move the checked gear into an athlete only area away from where the runners are exiting the course.

      Those are the only issues that I experienced, which should be very easy to correct.

      Here is a picture of me coming into the finish. (I'm in the pink shorts and blue shirt)

      Here is a picture of my son and I after the race with my medal.

      Here is a link to me crossing the finish line
      (I'm on the right side of the video)

      Chip Time: 2:02:23
      Average Pace: 9:21
      Overall Place: 3356 out of 10411
      Female Place: 1600 out of 6827
      Age Group Place: 253 out of 1001 Females in the 35-39 age group.

      For my first half marathon, I'm very pleased with this result.  My first mile was VERY slow at just over a 10 minute mile.  I spent over half a mile trying to weave my way through a lot of very slow runners/walkers.  Once I got through that, I was just above or below 9 minute miles the rest of the race.

      Since a lot of people clearly over stated their pace and started ahead of where they should have, I think I'm going to have to take that strategy the next time.  Without the bottle neck and a little more training, I should be able to finish my next Columbus Half in under 2 hours.

      I already registered for the Columbus Half Marathon on May 2, let the training begin!!

      Monday, September 29, 2014

      Movie Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

      I'm probably the only YA book blogger that did not see this movie in the theater, but I knew I would make a spectacle of myself if I watched it public.

      I picked it up from the library last week for our family movie night.  The first time we saw images of Hazel as a child in the hospital my eyes started to water.  My son started poking my husband and pointing at me.  His response was..."This is nothing new.  You should watch Titanic with Mom".  Preston then went and brought me a box of tissues.  

      The movie was exceptionally well done.  The acting was great and the movie stuck to the story line.  Several of my favorite lines from the book were in the movie, which brought a smile to my face...even with the difficult subject matter.

      The only thing I wish they would have included from the book was the conversation Isaac had with his Ophthalmologist.  I work for several Ophthalmologists, so I found it to be ridiculously funny in the book.  It wasn't a substantial part of the story, so I understand why it wasn't included in the film...but it would have been great if they could have found a way to include it.

      The trip to Amsterdan was absolutely perfect.  Van Houten was just as vile as I remember, but Hazel and Augustus's date more than made up for it.  It was a trip of a lifetime for both of them.  Here is a picture from Amsterdam.

      Of course they couldn't leave out the swing set.

      This has to be one of the best movies I have seen in a while.  If you read the book, it is a MUST see, but I think anyone will enjoy it.  My husband described it as a chick flick, but he watched the entire film and seemed to enjoy it.  I had to cover Preston's eyes at one point, but there is really only one scene that I would consider to be inappropriate for someone under 13.

      Monday, September 22, 2014

      Marathon Monday: Ohio State 4 Miler

      This weekend was the Ohio State 4 Miler.  It is only the second year for the event, which raises money for the Ohio State cancer hospital.  Last year there were 10,000 participants and this year it sold out with 12,000 runners/walkers.

      My son, Preston, and I had a rematch of our 4th of July race.  Fortunately, this time I came out ahead.
      I finished the 4 miles in 34:53 with an average pace of 8:44 min/mile.  I was 77th out of 1057 finishers in my age group (35-39) and 387th out of 6762 females that finished.

      Preston finished in 36:57 with an average pace of 9:15 min/mile.
      He was 131st out of 456 in his age group and 1,233rd out of the 4,133 male finishers

      Preston's place finishes aren't exactly fair since his age group was 3-19 and he is only 9.  I can't believe they didn't have a 10 and under category.  I don't know how they expect an elementary school kid to compete with a high school kid. At least he had fun!!

      Here is a picture before the start inside the stadium.  You can see the finish line behind us on the 50 yard line.

      Here area couple of pictures at the start of the race.

      Here we are with our medals.  This is the first race Preston has run in that gave medals to all of the finishers.  He was REALLY excited.

      Sunday, September 21, 2014

      Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

      Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

      It has been over two and a half years since I finished reading Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I honestly could not remember who Isla was prior to starting the book, but I did not feel bad once I remembered.  She had a VERY small part in Anna and the French Kiss.  She is a year younger than Anna and Etienne and attends SOAP...the School of America in Paris.  She has a huge crush on Josh, who was good friends with Etienne, and is a very talented artist in her grade.

      Both Josh and Isla are from New York City and have attended the School of America in Paris together for three years.  They are both home for the summer between their junior and senior year and bump into each other at a local cafe.  Isla just had her wisdom teeth removed and is more outgoing than normal, thanks to some pain killers.  This was just the thing these characters needed to break the ice.  Isla has been in love with Josh since her freshman year and he has secretly been interested in her as well.

      After visiting Paris last year I was really excited to read this story, which included many of the sites I visited.  Isla's best friend since childhood, Kurt, is obsessed with the catacombs, the underground tunnel system in Paris.  If you have never been there, here are a couple of the pictures I took.  It isn't something most tourists know about, but I would HIGHLY recommend taking a tour if you are even in Paris.  

      I'm sure everyone wants to know how Anna, Etienne, Lola and Cricket are woven into this story, but I'm not going to spoil it for you.  I will simply say that Stephanie had a brilliant way of bringing all of these characters together for a short period of time.  Isla has a chance to interact with Josh's friends and we are able to see how their lives and relationships have progressed.

      The one thing I can say about Stephanie Perkins is that she writes the most lovable characters.  They are all very unique and their stories are far from perfect.  They make mistakes along the way, but they become better people because of what they learn on their journey.  While I always appreciate a Happily Ever After, it has a greater impact when it doesn't come handed to you on a silver platter.  This is a brilliant series that I consider a MUST read for any young adult fan.  

      Wednesday, September 17, 2014

      Waiting on Wednesday: All Broke Down by Cora Carmack

      Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.  

      All Broke Down by Cora Carmack
      Release Date: October 28, 2014

      I just discovered Cora Carmack earlier this year.  I've read and LOVED Losing It, Faking It, and Keeping Her.  I already have copies of Finding It and All Lined Up sitting on my desk waiting to be read, which I plan on doing before the release of this book.  

      All Broke Down (Rusk University, #2)Goodreads Overview: 

      In life, you can't only fight for what you believe in . . .sometimes you have to fight for what you love

      Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

      Environmental issues, civil rights, education—you name it, she's probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail for a few hours, she meets Silas Moore. He's in for a different kind of fighting. And though he's arrogant and not at all her type, she can't help being fascinated with him.

      Yet another lost cause.

      Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it's trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He's met girls like her before—fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn't think he's broken, and he definitely doesn't need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about, his spot on the Rusk University football team.

      Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

      Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.


      Friday, September 12, 2014

      Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

      Little Bee

      This book was recommended to me by one of the physicians I work with quite some time ago.  One of my blog friends gave it one star and another co-worker said it was "okay", so I have been putting it off.  I needed an audio book and this was available, so I downloaded it.

      This book was well outside my comfort zone, but it was a thought provoking story.  It is a fictional story about two British journalists, Sarah and Andrew O'Rourke, who travel to Nigeria on vacation.  At the time, there are oil wars going on and there is a lot of violence in the area.  They venture outside of their hotel compound and encounter two Nigerian girls and some "soldiers" for lack of a better term.  The journalists return to England, but the events that took place in Nigeria have irreparably altered them.  

      The story is told from both Sarah and Little Bee's point of view.  (Little Bee is one of the Nigerian girls.)  When we are first introduced to Little Bee she is in a British Immigration Detention center.  She fled Nigeria after the encounter with the journalists for her own safety and is seeking refuge from Great Britain. Sarah and Little Bee's worlds eventually collide and their story unfolds in this novel.

      Overall, I thought this book was okay.  I debated between giving it 2 or 3 stars and settled on 3 because it is well written and I can appreciate the author's message about immigration.  The story just wasn't my cup of tea.  It portrays fear and terror and contains a lot of violence.  The ending was also left open, which I don't usually care for.  In this case, the reader can put two and two together to interpret what happens, but the ending is very depressing.  That is probably why the author did not include the additional few pages it would have taken to tie up the loose ends.