Five on Friday #9

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Congratulations! You made it to Friday!

It’s been an interesting week. I was really sick last weekend with a nasty cold and it’s hung around pretty much all week. I feel better but still not 100% like myself.

  1. A quick migraine update for those who have followed my journey so far. Things haven’t been great. I’ve head a few more migraines than normal and they are really intense and painful. My neurologist will be upping my medication dosage next month so I’m hoping that will help. For now I’m just taking things day by day.
  2. I’m going to my cousin’s baby shower on Saturday with my mom and grandma. She announced her pregnancy on Christmas and we are very excited to celebrate the baby’s upcoming arrival as a family.
  3. On Sunday we are celebrating Mother’s Day at my grandparent’s house. It’ll be nice to have two family days in a row this weekend! Are you celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend?
  4. I’ve been reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on the Kindle app and I love it so far! I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on it so I put off reading it because I thought I wouldn’t like it. But so far so good. Have you read any good books lately?
  5. I have been feeling really boring lately. Brett has so many things he’s interested in but I feel like my interests are only work, my dog, and blogging. I want to find something else that I’m passionate about.

Do you have any big plans this weekend?

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

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Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

2019 has been a great year for reading so far! I discovered the world of YA literature last year and fell in love! I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven earlier this year and was it really impacted me (seriously, go read it if you haven’t already). Jennifer’s writing style is powerful and I knew I had to read more. I already have a third book lined up by her to read in the near future.

Summary:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Review:

I needed to read this book. For the past year I have been beating myself up about gaining weight and Libby made me want to love myself again. Libby is the definition of a strong female lead who picks herself up off the ground and makes big things happen. She is brave, resilient, and unstoppable. I also love how she is so supportive of other girls in her class. I love when girls support girls instead of ripping each other apart.

And then we have sweet Jack Masselin who so badly wants to be a good guy but his undiagnosed neurological condition makes it hard for him. The common theme with Jack is peer pressure to do things he wouldn’t otherwise think to do. The “shitty” thing he does actually brings him closer to Libby which in the long run may save him from himself.

This was another quick read for me. I just couldn’t put it down! If I was reading it on a weekend I probably would have read it in under 24 hours. The characters, the plot, and the message were so good and made me want to keep reading. The ending was perfect too.

Favorite Quotes:

“I want you to know I’m rooting for you.’ Sometimes we need to hear that, even from a stranger.”

“We never know how long we have. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow. I could die right now, right here.”

“One of the worst things a pretty girl can say to a fat girl is You look really pretty.”

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you’ve got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone.

As for the rest of you, remember this. YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.”

“Everyone in my life is a stranger, and that includes me.”

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

“People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them. So it’s like self-defensive shittiness.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Libby and Jack may not be real but they can teach you a thing or two about life. I am giving Holding up the Universe 5 stars because it made me think, feel, and opened my eyes to other’s thoughts and feelings.

I love reading books that make me want to take action when I’m done. This one motivated me to put myself out there again and try to be the healthiest version of myself. It motivated me lose weight because I love myself and not because I hate my body.

Once again, Jennifer Niven is a brilliant writer. I’m pretty positive I will love anything Jennifer writes and am already looking forward to reading the next one.

What’s your favorite book at the moment?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno - YA Book Recommendation

Last summer I reviewed 99 Days by Katie Cotugno and I really enjoyed it! If I like a book by an author I always make sure to check out other books that they have written. Top Ten has been on my Amazon wishlist for months and I finally purchased it when I was looking for a quick and fun read.

Summary:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does.

But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.

Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top ten list: this time, counting down the top ten moments of their friendship.

Review:

If you want a book that will take you back to high school, this is it. I hated 98% of my high school experience but I do really enjoy YA books. This book was so relatable because it explored friendship, first loves, breakups, tense family dynamics, and mental and physical health.

I really enjoyed the perspective from both Ryan and Gabby. Their characters were developed really well throughout the book. The timeline was a bit hard to follow because it kept jumping back and forth from the past and present. But overall it was cool to read about how their friendship developed and changed over the years and it made me miss my high school friends.

What I loved most about this book though was Gabby. I loved her introvertedness and how awkward she always felt. I loved when she explains her anxiety and her fears. I loved her sisters and her family. And I really loved reading about how she finally overcame her fears.

I did not enjoy the ending of the book. It feels unfinished and I still have so many questions. I enjoy having everything tied up in a neat little bow and that didn’t happen this time. I was also left thinking about my own high school experience which is never the most fun thing to think about.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’m a quick reader so if I like a book I can fly through it in one sitting. This book took me a couple of weeks to finish. I’d read a couple chapters each night before bed but honestly I wasn’t super invested in the book itself. I still give it 3 stars because the characters were so well developed and I did enjoy the plot. I think Katie wrote about some tough topics that are important to read about and understand.

There’s just something about high school that makes everyone a little mushy on the inside. Whether you enjoyed it or hated it, there are still so many memories associated with that time period of your life. For me, I had a best friend turned boyfriend who I dated for the first two years of high school. We had been friends for years before that so he just felt like such an important piece of my life at the time. He was nothing like Ryan from this book though and it was a blessing in disguise when he broke up with me. But still, the memory of my ex-friend/boyfriend is one of the main things that ruins my high school memories.

I’m already finished with my next book so hopefully I’ll have another book review up soon! Have you read any good books lately?

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Five on Friday #7

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!! I am so ready for this weekend! This past week has been a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve been fighting a losing battle with a headache that wants to turn into a migraine. This weekend I plan on getting some much needed sleep!

  1. I’m going into this weekend with no real plans. Maybe I’ll clean the house and go grocery shopping? But I don’t really have anything else lined up to do which is the best feeling!
  2. I’ve been reading a couple chapters every night from Top Ten by Katie Cotugno. I loved reading 99 Days over the summer so I was excited to read another book by her! So far I don’t love it as much as I loved 99 Days but I do think it’s really cute and fluffy.
  3. Speaking of high school, we cleaned out my parent’s basement last weekend and now I am the proud owner of two boxes full of high school memories. High School Hayley was really annoying and I’m happy to have left her in the past.
  4. One year ago we were moving into our first house! It’s crazy how fast time has gone! I never thought I’d find somewhere that made me feel more at home than my parent’s house where I grew up. But the moment I walked into our house I felt relaxed and knew that we were meant to be there. One year later and I am still so in love with our cozy cape cod!
  5. I’ve been thinking about work-life balance this past week. I was talking to my group of study abroad friends about how much vacation time is standard in their countries. My workplace is pretty flexible when it comes to time off, working from home, and sick days but I still feel pressure to work as much as possible. The thought of being able to take a two week vacation seems crazy to me now! Honestly, I have had so many thoughts running through my head this past week that I need to figure out how to sort through.

How was your week? Do you have any plans this weekend?

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Photo by Daniela on Unsplash

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This book was not on my 2019 reading list but I read a review and knew that I needed to read it ASAP. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is one of those books that makes you believe in love and happiness but also allows you to experience heartbreak that feels so real and raw. By the end of the book I was crying and felt like my heart was in one thousand little pieces but in a good way. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to feel all of the emotions at once.

But the main reason why I loved this book was because of the message. Reading through Finch and Violet’s day-to-day struggles with mental illness is SO important. Understanding is important. In the book they talk about how no one brings flowers to funerals and no one bakes casseroles for the family of suicide victims. That suicide is selfish. But it’s not and this book will explain why.

Summary

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .

Review

This may actually be the best written book that I have ever read. I finished it about two weeks ago and still think about Finch and Violet daily.

I felt everything as it was happening and it took me back to moments in my life and made me realize that maybe I didn’t grieve as thoroughly as I thought I did. A couple of years ago I lost someone close to me who died in a “selfish” way. People tried to understand but they really couldn’t and it was devastating. I don’t think there will ever be a point in time where a book about mental illness and suicide is no longer relevant and important. It’s a hard read but incredibly important.

When we first meet Violet she is struggling to grieve for her sister who died in a car accident. Finch is all over the place with his mood when he sees Violet on the bell tower. They are both thinking about jumping and that day Finch saves Violet’s life and she gives him something to live for.

This book follows their friendship and eventual romance. It’s cute and fluffy with a side of seriousness. I love that the chapters switch back and forth between Finch and Violet’s point of view and I enjoyed being able to read both sides of the story. Finch’s chapters were really informative especially when you later hear the probable diagnosis from his school counselor.

The ending of the book is bittersweet and I actually did not see it coming. I really don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say much about it but these things happen in real life. It’s scary and crazy and it feels like there isn’t anything we can do about it. What I love most about this book is that Jennifer Niven brings to light all of the things we feel we can’t talk about when it comes to suicide and mental illness. Not only does she talk about it, she also gives resources for readers who feel similar to Finch and Violet.

Favorite Quotes

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

“You make me lovely, and it’s so lovely to be lovely to the one I love.…”

“You have been in every way all that anyone could be.… If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.”

“No more winter at all. Finch, you brought me spring.”

“What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.”

“Listen, I’m the freak. I’m the weirdo. I’m the troublemaker. I start fights. I let people down. Don’t make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I’m a person.”

“You saved my life. Why couldn’t I save yours?”

“I was here. TF.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Once again, this book is incredible. It’s raw, powerful, and extremely informative. I pride myself in being empathetic to others in situations very different from my own. Gaining perspective from All The Bright Places has helped me become more understanding, especially towards survivors of suicide. I would 150% recommend adding this to your reading list.

Apparently All The Bright Places is being turned into a movie in 2019! I’m looking forward to the day that I can watch Violet and Finch’s stories come to life. Also, it’s being directed by Brett Haley which is pretty much the most perfect name.

Have you read a book lately this you just can’t stop thinking about?

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New Year, New Reading List

2019 Reading List

In 2018 I fell back in love with reading. I learned to read at an early age and always had a book with me when I was growing up. As I got older my love for reading always remained but the free-time I had to read dwindled. In 2018 I wanted to read more and find the joy of a good book again. Going into 2019 I want to continue this exploration of books and my love for reading.

What does this mean for the blog?

Hopefully it means more reading lists and book reviews. The amazing thing about reading is that it reminds me how much I love to write. Reading inspires writing which inspires blogging. Therefore, more reading equals more blogging!

To start off 2019 I will be sharing a list of books that I am hoping to read this year. If I don’t like a book I have a very hard time convincing myself to continue reading it. I’ve read reviews for all of the below books and I’m really hoping that I like them! By the way, this list is in no particular order.

  1. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Coon and David Levithan
  2. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Amy Morin
  3. People Like Us – Dana Mele
  4. Meet Cute – Various YA Authors
  5. Becoming – Michelle Obama
  6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  7. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
  8. Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven
  9. One Day In December – Josie Silver
  10. The Yellow Envelope – Kim Dinan
  11. The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
  12. The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman

If I find other books I will be adding them to my list. I have a huge stack of books on my nightstand right now and I tend to just grab whatever sounds good and start reading it. Brett knows that if he needs to buy me a gift for any reason he should go straight to my Amazon wishlist and buy any of the books that I have on there.

Please let me know if you have any other book recommendations! I go through books pretty quickly especially in the summer and winter months so I always appreciate a good recommendation.

Have you read any amazing books lately? Or are there any books that you are dying to read this year?

Thanks for reading!

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The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Book Review - The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Hi friends!

A couple of weeks ago I read The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith. I had read the first two chapters online and really wanted to know what ended up happening to Eden. I knew this would be different than the other books I have been reading recently.

I will start off my saying that I didn’t completely love this book. It was tough to read at times but the message is so important. After reading this I feel compelled to have others read it too. It may not end up being your favorite book but it might give you perspective and understanding of what other’s are feeling.

Here’s the description:

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

If you have been through high school you can probably relate to Eden in some ways. High school is about finding yourself and Eden lost her way for a reason that was completely out of her control.

The book follows Eden through her high school career and gets darker as time goes on. I was mad at her for not telling her mom right after it happened and it hurt watching their mother-daughter relationship falter as the years went on. I wanted her family to understand how she was feeling so badly but completely understand why she felt that she couldn’t say anything.

The Way I Used To Be was a powerful book with a strong female lead. I actually hurt for Eden and it opened up my eyes to how people feel in her situation. It may not be based on a true story but it shows the victim’s perspective after being raped.

Have you read any insightful books that changed your way of thinking?

Thanks for reading!

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