Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: "The Husband List"

"The Husband List" by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly
First published in 2013
309 pages
My rating: 3.75 out of 5

(image source)

I picked up "The Husband List" from the library because, as a rule, I read all of Janet Evanovich's books. And while I fairly enjoyed the book, this Gilded Age romance set in 1894 was a major departure from her normal work. It also seemed to lack Evanovich's usual zing and zip, and I suspect the co-author played a more major part in this novel than "Love in a Nutshell," the book the two penned together last year.

Nevertheless, "The Husband List" was a frivolous, light, predictable somewhat-historical romance -- and sometimes you just need one of those! Our heroine is Caroline Maxwell, an American heiress whose mother's singular goal in life is to see her three daughters married well. Caroline is the eldest of the trio, and though she's managed to wile herself out of any proposals thus far, her mother has set her sights on an English soon-to-be-duke. Unfortunately for her mother, the "almost duke" is harboring some nasty secrets. Oh, and Caroline happens to be in love with someone else -- her brother's handsome, rugged, brewery-owning Irish best friend -- whom her mother would find completely and totally unsuitable.

"The Husband List" definitely wasn't the best historical romance I've read, and hardly the most accurate to the period. And it wasn't Evanovich's best work. But it was a fun diversion nonetheless and I'm glad I picked it up.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: That Thing Called Winter

Aloha and happy Wednesday from snowy Colorado! We flew out of Hawaii Friday night and Colorado welcomed us with fairly nice weather. But Tuesday brought snow and freezing temperatures, and it was no fun. Did I seriously spend a good portion of the last three years whining about missing seasons and being jealous of people in cold climes who get to wear sweaters and boots? Uh... I want my flip-flops and tank tops and Hawaii perpetual summer back! We're here in Colorado until next week, when we head off for even colder Ohio!

The bright side to our move is that I had an excuse to go crazy shopping for winter clothes since many of the things I had pre-Hawaii were woefully out-of-date or (sadly) too small. So here we have Lindsay in Long Sleeves, Week 1!

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Even on sale at the outlet, this sweater was a tad more than I wanted to pay. But how I could I resist elbow patches?!

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Brrrr! I immediately bundled up after this picture, but the snow didn't stop my husband from wearing shorts and sandals (and garnering a few weird looks). His body is on the Mainland but his mind is still in Hawaii!

pleated poppy

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Review: "The Secret Keeper"

"The Secret Keeper" by Kate Morton
First published in 2012
481 pages
My rating: 5 out of 5
(image source)

"The Secret Keeper" captivated me from cover to cover. It's a mother-daughter tale about a long-held secret and its consequences.

When Laurel Nicolson was 16, she witnessed her mother doing something awful -- and though it was explained away, Laurel always suspected there was more to the event than her mother let on. Now, decades later, Laurel's mother is on her deathbed and an old photograph sparks the mystery anew. Laurel decides she must know, once and for all, the truth about that long-ago day.

The story takes place in three time periods: present day from Laurel's perspective, and from her mother Dorothy's point-of-view when she's in her early 20s in 1941 England as well as her childhood in the English countryside. The majority of the novel takes place in Britain during the war years, and the atmosphere Morton creates is phenomenal. She's a fantastic writer with elegant, lovely prose and I definitely want to check out more of her work.

Though the year is new, I imagine "The Secret Keeper" will make next December's best-book-I-read-this-year list! It was a supberbly written mystery and a joy to read.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: "Ender's Game"

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
First published in 1985
324 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

"Ender's Game" didn't have the best writing or the most page-turning plot, and I'm not sure I'm intrigued enough to continue with the rest of the series. But I know I won't soon forget the book. This futuristic science fiction novel was different, and it was memorable.

Far from catching frogs, building forts and playing with his friends like normal kids, 6-year-old Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is the potential savior of Earth. It's 70 years after aliens -- buggers -- twice attacked our planet, and it's feared they're preparing for a third invasion.

Ender, a brilliant child with a level of wisdom and intelligence that very few adults ever attain, was literally born to become a military genius. At 6, when we meet Ender, he's selected to attend Battle School, a training academy in space that brings up new armies of elite soldiers to lead the third bugger war.
 
Not surprisingly, Ender excels at the training, wins all the war games and quickly improvises and adapts to all the challenges thrown at him in the battle room. But he's also lonely, isolated and despised by some of the other children -- a situation purposely created by the adults in charge -- and though he knows he's being constantly played and manipulated by his teachers, he has no choice but to go along with the military's plan to mold him into a weapon.

Can Ender, a mere elementary-aged child, handle the pressure of being the world's best hope for a military leader, endure the rigorous and unprecedented "training," and survive the forced isolation his teachers think is necessary to shape him into the best possible commander?

"Ender's Game" has some rabid fans, and several people recommended the book to me when I was working a the library. I wouldn't put it in the ranks of my favorite books, but Card managed to keep my interest with his unique tale, and I was intrigued by his underlying themes about the military and the government.

The movie version of "Ender's Game" comes out this November and it sounds like it's been cast perfectly, with the role of Ender going to Asa Butterfield of "Hugo." Usually I enjoy books much more than the movies developed from them, but I'll definitely see the "Ender's Game" film -- and I would actually recommend seeing the cinema version over reading the book. The book is a bit dry and slow at times, and I think the story will be greatly enhanced and the characters easier to identify with on the big screen.

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Furry Friday (on Saturday)

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We took Conan to the dog beach on Wednesday afternoon and he had a great time playing with other dogs and splashing around with us. It was a bit bittersweet since it was the last time Conan will get to go to the beach in Hawaii. He and Lily fly out Monday evening to spend a week at their grandparents' house in Colorado before Jarrod and I join them there, and then we all head off for the cold climes of Ohio!
 
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: Kauai Edition

Aloha! Jarrod and I just got back from a wonderful four days on Kauai, our favorite island and the one that we'll undoubtedly vacation at for years and years to come, no matter where in the world we're living. We spent a lot of time at the beach this trip and did a whole lot of relaxing, but I still took some fun pictures and I'll post them sometime this week. For now, here's a look at what I wore! Happy Wednesday!
 
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pleated poppy

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Big Island Part 2: Black Sand, Green Sand, Beer and Horses

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This interesting little candy shop is just outside of Kona. We discovered that Donkey Balls are whole macadamia nuts covered with some kind of chocolate and other fixings, and they have clever names like Blue Balls (blue white chocolate) and Dirty Balls (covered in cocoa powder).
 
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Jarrod jumping off the cliffs at South Point, the southernmost point in the U.S. I was way too chicken to  make this 30-ish foot leap!
 
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The green sand beach.
 
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A mineral called olivine is what gives the sand its greenish hue.
 
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Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, near Volcanoes National Park.
 
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Me with a depiction of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. We were having a conversation about how she caused me to fall and twist my ankle on our lava walk the previous night.
 
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We did a horseback ride through scenic and rural Waipio Valley.
 
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You can just make out a waterfall in the middle of the picture.
 
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Our guide said about 60 wild horses live in the valley.
 
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Lovely rainbow on the drive from Waipio to Kona.
 
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Kona Brewing Company brewery tour. Here we're sampling the Black Sand Porter. This is also a decent picture of the gorgeous Hawaiian sunrise shell necklace Jarrod gave me for Christmas.
 
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The inside of St. Benedict's Painted Church, a pretty little chapel tucked away near the ocean.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Big Island Part 1: Lava!





Jarrod and I took our last trip to the Big Island (at least for now) just before Christmas and, though there was no lava flowing near the public viewing areas, we were lucky enough to find a guy who leads nightly hikes out to the lava.

It was just amazing to stand feet from flowing, molten lava. The heat was astoundingly intense at times -- I struggled to get close enough to poke it with my walking stick because it felt like my arm was on fire! I was also surprised by how much noise the lava made, popping and crackling and hissing as it flowed over itself.
 
We both agreed it was the best activity we've done in Hawaii, and it might be the coolest thing I've done -- ever.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures from the rest of our awesome trip!


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We hiked about 2.5 miles out to the lava. The terrain was pretty rough and -- infamously clumsy me -- about 20 minutes into the trip I slipped and sprained my ankle. There's no way I was turning back, though!

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From a distance the lava just looks black, but close up it's streaked with all kinds of colors. The picture above reminded me of an oil slick and the photo below brought to mind bacon.
 

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We arrived just before sunset. This is now my favorite picture from our entire 3+ years in Hawaii!

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It was so neat to watch everyone poke their walking sticks into the cooling lava. I'm no scientist, but I'd guess the renewed oxygen supply created by the stick hole is what caused the amazing blowtorch effect.

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Oooh, ahhh. This was my third trip to the Big Island but it was by far the best! Not that I'll soon forget, but I'm glad I have the videos and pictures to last me forever!

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Year in Pictures

year in review

I thought it'd be fun to look back through all the gazillion pictures I've taken this year and share a few of my favorites from the last 12 months. It was awfully hard to narrow it down, but I ended up with a nice overview of the year.

1. We took this gorgeous sunset picture when we spent a glorious week on Kauai in October, shortly after Jarrod got back from his deployment.

2. Jarrod returned from Afghanistan at the end of September. This was definitely the best day of the year!

3. In December we went to the Big Island for the third time, which also happened to the best time because we got up close and personal with lava!

4. My best friend Katie came to visit in June and we went to a fancy afternoon tea at the historic Moana Surfrider hotel in Waikiki for her birthday.

5. The highlight of my mom's visit in October was when we rescued this seahorse from some shallow water at the dog beach. Conan helped, too!

6. I went home to Colorado in May for my brother's high school graduation. While I was there we took a scenic drive up Mt. Evans. Ahhh, home.

7. My friend Jessie came over for Easter and we colored eggs together, then took humiliating pictures of Conan with them.

8. Before Jarrod left for deployment, he won Officer of the Year for not only his squadron but the group level as well. We got to go to a fancy awards dinner and I was finally able to take a picture with Jarrod in his spiffy mess dress!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Furry Friday

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Oh, those eyes! Lily might be a bit moody at times, but she sure is nice to look at!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha and happy 2013! This year promises to hold lots of new adventures for my husband and me as we move from Hawaii to Ohio and get settled into our new home for the next three years. As much as I'll miss Hawaii, I'm getting a bit more excited to wear some cold-weather clothes. Since I can't wear flip-flops in Ohio in February I'm going to have to find an awesome pair of brown leather boots!

I'm pretty happy with the way my fashion has evolved this year but I still have a couple wardrobe goals for the 2013:

*Give leggings a try.
*Wear my J.Crew bubble necklace more.
*Find some shorts that I actually like! As you can see, I wear jeans every day even though I live in Hawaii -- the land of shorts and flip-flops. I just can't ever find shorts that are comfortable and fit right. But that's not going to cut it for Ohio's hot, humid summers!
*Stop buying clothes that I don't really LOVE just because they're cheap. Maybe take it a step further and go for quality over quantity!

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday. Happy first Wednesday of 2013!

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The Five Best Books I Read in 2012

Happy New Year! At the beginning of 2012 I got a job at the base library, so it turned out to be an awesome year of reading for me and I thought I'd share with you my five favorite books from the past 12 months. I included links to my reviews under each picture. Happy reading in 2013!

5.      "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
 
4. "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain
 
3. "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson
(image source)
(my review)

2. "Unbroken" by Lauren Hillenbrand
 
And my FAVORITE book from the year (drumroll)...

1. "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness
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