Sunday, 30 September 2018

September Book Review

I have officially read my 30 books that I wanted to read for the year!  Anything now is bonus.  
The Great Alone

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

This might be one of my top books for the year so far.  It wasn't the one that I read the quickest, it maybe wasn't the most "enjoyable" (I did enjoy it, but I mean in comparison to a light and fluffy chick lit book).  But as a real literary book that has a bunch of depth but is still readable, this book is it.

Leni and her parents move to Alaska to homestead in the 70's.  It's a turbulent time, and her dad has changed since being released as a POW from the Vietnam war.  Leni finds herself in Alaska and this novel is an exploration of that, her family, the friends she makes.  

For me, I love watching Alaska shows, so that's what drew me to this book in the first place.  (Alaska: The Last Frontier anyone?)  But I felt like this book had some great character development, it was thought provoking and educational.  

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

This book is about Hal, a young woman who is living day by day and has loan sharks after her.  When she gets a letter telling her that her grandmother has died and she will get an inheritance, it seems too good to be true.  Especially since she knows that this woman couldn't possibly be her grandmother.  She is desperate so plans to deceive this family in order to come into the money anyways.  Unfortunately things begin to unravel once she gets to the estate that belonged to Mrs. Westaway.  

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as some of Ruth Ware's books.  I loved In a Dark, Dark Wood and the Lying Game.  This one was more along the lines of the Woman in Cabin 10.  Left me wanting a bit more from it.

I've Got My Eyes on You
I've Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark

What can I say about this besides the fact that it's classic Mary Higgins Clark.  A young girl is murdered, the book takes on the perspective of her family, a couple suspects and the detective.  I found it slightly predictable and a few parts surprised me as being unrealistic, but this was a shorter book and an easy read.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

August Book Review

This month started off so strong, and then I just stopped reading. I read three books in the first week as I was on holidays, and then I only read one other book the entire rest of the month!  But four books isn't too bad either.

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

This was my book club book for this month.  So it's outside the norm of what I would usually read.  It's set in the 1600's and is about a young girl who marries a rich merchant.  She moves into his house with his controlling sister.  He gives her a miniature house that is a replica of the house they live in and then secrets begin to be revealed.  I don't like giving too much away! 

I found this book interesting and it gave a good perspective of life back then, although some parts seemed a bit unrealistic.  The general consensus at book club was that this was a good book!  

My Oxford Year

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

I picked up this book because it had been described as being similar to "The Royal We" which I absolutely loved!  This book isn't about royalty, but it is about an American girl who goes to school at Oxford and falls for her young professor.  Again, I don't like to give away main story lines when they are something that aren't straight up described in the book description.  But if you like chick lit and Nicholas Sparks I think you would like this book.

All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

This book is oh so relevant these days.  Nina is married into Nashville elite.  Her son goes to a private school and their life is basically a combination of Wisteria Lane and Stepford wives.  But then one drunken night her son makes a huge mistake on social media and everything begins to unravel.  Told from the perspective of Nina, the girl involved in the snapchat picture, and the girl's father.  I thought this book was great.  Written in classic Emily Giffin style, but the topic was different and enthralling.

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

I kept picking up books and not wanting to read them, and realized I just needed some good chick lit.  Enter Lauren Weisberger.  You may know her as the author of The Devil Wears Prada.  This book is actually about Emily, the bitchy senior assistant from the Devil Wears Prada.  She has her own business that is falling apart, until an old friend connects her with a Senator's wife who has been charged with a DUI and whose life is unravelling.  (Emily's business is basically to clean up publicity messes for celebrities.) Loved this book.  Emily is still a bitch but totally endearing in this book.  I loved Miriam who was a partner at a law firm but quit to move to Connecticut and raise her children, but is feeling out of place among the Stepford wives.  And Karolina, the Senator's wife who was a model is totally lovable.  

I'm not even sure what my favourite book was this month.  I think it was probably All We Ever Wanted, but they were all truly good reads!  I'm at 27 out of 30 books for my goal for the year so I think it's time I set myself a new goal!

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

July Book Review

I set a goal at the beginning of the year to read 30 books.  At first I wanted to go for more, but thought it was unrealistic.  Well apparently I should of aimed higher because by the end of July I was at 23 books and thanks to summer holidays by the time this post is being written I'm actually at 26! 

I usually write about the books in here as I read them, because I tend to totally forget what a book is about after I finish it.  So hopefully I can figure out what each of these books were about!

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Nora is hit by a car and then while she thinks she is dying she hears her boyfriend hitting on another doctor.  After breaking up with him she goes back to the small island she grew up on that she hasn't been to in years. Throw in some family drama and some romance.  This is a typical Kristan Higgins, a light and easy read.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Usually I read Emily Giffin books shortly after they come out.  (My sister buys them immediately and then I read them.)  But I couldn't find my sister's copy of this book and eventually just got it from the library.  This book is about family dynamics.  Josie and Meredith's brother died 15 years ago, this book talks about their struggles within their own relationship with each other and how their brother's death has affected them.

First off, I found it so funny because Meredith reminded me of myself and Josie was my sister.  But to the extremes.  Then I got annoyed because I really hated Meredith!  She was whiny and miserable and mean to her sister.  

Overall I liked the book despite not liking one of the main characters, but it definitely wasn't my favourite Emily Giffin book.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Wow, this book made me think.  Alice and Jake are newlyweds and are given an unusual gift at their wedding.  It's a membership into a marriage club, designed to ensure that your marriage works.  But it is basically a cult. I found this fascinating because it gave so much insight into how someone could basically be tricked into a cult, especially one that really has the strength to control you.  

I feel that this book wouldn't be for everyone.  I'm not sure what category of books it would even fit into.  But I really enjoyed it.  It was super thought provoking and made me think about it even after I had finished it.

A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

I brought this book to a cottage with me, my mother in law started reading my copy while we were there and then took it while I was done and my sister in law read it immediately after.  So we basically all finished it within a few days of each other!

This book is by the same author as The Couple Next Door which I read in June.  Karen and Tom are happily married, until one day Tom comes home and Karen is gone.  She had been in a car accident, but doesn't remember what happened or how she got there.  Things start to unravel as they try to figure out what happened and why Karen had gone somewhere that she typically wouldn't.

I enjoyed this book but liked The Couple Next Door more.  Similarly, this book goes from the perspective of both the couple and the police.  I'm not sure I love this combination, I like it to be one or the other for some reason.  But that being said, it was a good read and I did read it very quickly!

So that's it for this month.  August is shaping up to be a good month considering that I'm 3 books in already!  

Monday, 23 July 2018

Sleeping in the Trees

A bit delayed but I really wanted to write this post in case others who are planning a trip come across it.  We recently crossed a major bucket list item off our list and went to Costa Rica.  I've been wanting to go here for years!  We considered it for our honeymoon, but they had no adults only resorts at that point so we decided on Jamaica.  We were going to go in 2013, but had a destination wedding in Punta Cana instead.  We really lucked out that this time there was a destination wedding, it was in Costa Rica!

 We decided to go all out for this trip.  I really wanted to actually see Costa Rica.  So we changed out flight to 3 days earlier and went down with another couple.  I really want to share this part of the trip because when I was planning it I was constantly looking online for what other people had done, what worked and what they recommended.  Planning trips is my jam.  I love it and it has definitely given me something to do for the 9 months before the trip.

First up, I'm going to talk about where we stayed.

When we decided to go to Costa Rica a few days before everyone, I knew that it was important that we really see the country.  So we had to decide where to go!  I had looked up Costa Rica before and had come across these Treehouses that I thought looked really neat.  I didn't know much about the area that they were in.  There were some in La Fortuna, and I also found some in Monteverde.  When I looked into it a bit more, the prices of the Treehouses by La Fortuna were great, and the Arenal Volcano is considered one of the must see areas of Costa Rica.  (Monteverde is too, I've also heard great things about Manuel Antonio.  But for us I felt that Arenal had more to do than Monteverde.)
The view from the front of our treehosue

I had fairly low expectations before we got there.  All of the reviews said it was a great experience, but I figured it would be kind of dirty, there would be bugs.  I figured it would be a 3 star, but a neat thing to do.  But this place was so great!  (Probably still considered a 3 star, but if you embrace it, it's beyond a 5 star!)  It was so clean, the only bug was a cicada that flew into our room.  The shower took a bit to figure out how to get hot, but it was possible.  And you are in a what do you expect!  The fact that they have indoor plumbing is amazing.

When we arrived we were greeted by Yiandra, who works there.  We had spoken to her by email and she was just as helpful in person.  After that the on site managers, Jess and Carolina were there.  All of them were very welcoming and helpful.  They would order food for you that was delivered right to your treehouse.  They would call and book excursions for you and inquire about availability.  

Every morning when we woke up there was a thermos of coffee sitting on our porch for us.  Then they served breakfast at the outdoor breakfast area at 7:30 every morning.

We also took part in a night hike.  Rolando was very enthusiastic about the animals.  We saw a snake, baby hummingbirds, sleeping birds (they just sit on the tree branch, who knew), an armadillo, a sloth, poisonous frogs, tree frogs and a big iguana.  It was so helpful to have this hike because we wouldn't of seen anything without Rolando.  Because sloths don't move very far or very fast, the next morning we were able to go back and see the sloth in the day light.  He was still very high up in the trees, and I wish I had seen one closer.  But at least we saw one!

The treehouse itself was very nice.   It was all made of wood.   There was air conditioning, a mini fridge and a bathroom with a toilet and a shower.  The shower was screened in so it was open to the forest.  It wasn't quiet here by any means!  The jungle is noisy!  But after a day we got so used to it.  It's like having a noise machine on.

We did rent a car for this portion of the trip, and although you don't have to in order to stay at the treehouses I think it made life easier.  They are about 40 minutes from La Fortuna, so we just drove in every day.  But the experience was worth the distance.  We also ordered pizza in one night and there are restaurants near by too.  I wish we had of had one more day here to just relax at the Treehouses and enjoy!  We did a hike to a waterfalls and river on the property.  We thought it would be a relaxing morning hike before breakfast and brought a coffee.  Although it wasn't strenuous it was longer than expected and coffee was a bad idea!  So I wish we had of had more time to hike down there and enjoy the area.
Pizza delivered to our treehouse door - And the Costa Rican pineapple...I'm drooling thinking about it

If you are heading to Costa Rica, specifically the La Fortuna area, I can't recommend this place enough!  The treehouses also had lofts with beds, so if you had kids or teenagers, they would love it and it's very economical for a family.  You have to book in advance because it fills up, so get on it!

The breakfast room