August 26, 2016

What I Read in August

August has easily been my busiest month of the year. I shared all of that in my post this Monday and it's still true. I got home from Raleigh at 10pm last night and am enjoying some quiet time in my apartment before getting to work and then heading up to NJ/CT for a wedding this weekend. 

Being on the road non-stop, though, has given me plenty of time to read. I've just nearly finished the Harry Potter series in addition to our Book Club book. Here's a look at what I read this month:

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" - I don't remember liking this book when I first read it, but this time I around I loved it. Dolores Umbridge though is easily my most hated fictional character of all time. 

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - This has always been and remains my least favorite Harry Potter book. I feel like the entire book is Harry, Ron, and Hermione running around Hogwarts, Harry thinking Malfoy is up to no good and Ron and Hermione not believing him, and a lot of teen angst. I didn't like it the first few times I read it and I still don't. I think the insight into Voldemort's past is fascinating, but there's a lot of excess in the novel that detracts from those parts. 

This is also the book where (I forgot) Hermione starts to get really irritating. She's reasonable to a fault and in this book and The Deathly Hallows, she refuses to leave Harry alone about Occulmency, refuses to believe him about Malfoy or about the hallows. In The Deathly Hallows, Lupin says on Potterwatch that he would tell Harry to follow his instincts because they're often right and in the last two books of the series, Hermione stops believing Harry and Ron, who is doting on her, follows suit and their disbelief makes up more of this book than anything else.

This book also made me realize that despite everything I know about Snape's history. He's still pretty terrible and I don't think anyone would actually name their son after someone who treated them so horrifically for so long. Constantly reminding a 16-year-old kid that his dead father was a jerk as a kid is really just a terrible thing. I think we all fell in love with Snape because Alan Rickman's portrayal of him was so incredible, and that scene in the final film was heart-wrenching, but in the books? Snape is pure evil. 

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - This book is so much better than either of the movies were. The entire first movie follows Harry, Ron, and Hermione running around the woods, when, in reality, that only takes up about 150 pages (of the 750+ page book). I haven't finished this book yet. I'm about 200 pages from the end, but I do like this book more than I remember liking it the first time I read it. I think there's a lot of action, but there are also a lot of really dull moments. I've said this before; I hated the Epilogue of this book. I remember reading an interview where J.K. Rowling said that she wrote it because she didn't want anyone to do anything else with Harry's story...and then she did, over and over. I do own The Cursed Child and, while I originally wasn't sure if I was going to read it, who am I kidding? As soon as I finish The Deathly Hallows, I'm going to turn to that book, and you can come back next month to see what I thought! 

Now, enough about Harry and on to our Book Club pick for the month!

"Salt to Sea" by Ruta Septys - I picked this book up without really having any idea what it was about, and was slightly skeptical because I don't typically enjoy YA. This book was beautiful. It is a historical fiction novel that follows four people from different European countries, all fleeing the Russian advance during WWII. Three of the characters meet on the road as they make their journey toward one of the many refugee ships that will take them to safety. The four characters' stories collide aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff.

The Wilhelm Gustloff was a ship meant to carry German troops and evacuees from East Prussia to Germany. Designed to carry some 1,500 passengers, the ship was overloaded with nearly 10,000 people. The ship's sinking remains the worst Maritime disaster in history, suffering a fate much worse than the Titanic, with over 9,000 lost, more than half of whom were children.

I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, and the author makes a note in the Afterword, about how this tragedy has been kept quiet over the years. I love that she told this story because these lives need to be remembered as much as any others lost to the tragedy of World War II. The book is told in short 1-2 page chapters, alternating characters, and, while it's sometimes easy to confuse them, I thought the story was beautiful. 

I've said before that I haven't read a good book all year, but this finally changed that, and I highly recommend it!

There you have it!
What have you been reading lately?
What are some of your favorite books of summer?

August 22, 2016

Coffee Date: August Edition

It has been an exhausting month.

We moved into our new apartment on July 30th. I didn't take any time off from work and getting settled in was pretty tough. My mom came down the following weekend to help us get settled in, and, while she was a huge help and our apartment is starting to look great, we still have 5 boxes that are unpacked and it still takes me 30 minutes to piece together an outfit in the morning.

I left for Seattle on August 10th and, because of major storms and cancellations, ended up leaving my Air B&B in Vancouver at 5am Sunday, missing 3 flights, flying to Houston, missing a flight, flying to Dallas, booking a hotel room for 4 hours, and waking up Monday morning to fly back to DC on a 6am flight. I landed, headed home to take a shower and hopped in an uber to the office just in time for a 12:00 meeting.

Last week was a quick week and on Friday afternoon, Peyton and I were in the car driving up to NJ for the weekend. I originally wasn't planning to leave until Saturday afternoon but my mom promised to take me to the beach on Saturday, and that was enticing enough. Saturday's Beach Day was glorious. It had been ages since my last trip and it was exactly what I needed. 

Sunday, we went to our nephew's Christening and, after all of our flight options for the night got canceled, we hopped in the car and got back to DC just before midnight.

Today is supposed to be my first day of marathon training. I wanted to take the week after Sea Wheeze off to recover, especially since. I had some post-run knee pain, and I did but ever since I came back from the West Coast, I haven't been able to pull myself out of bed before 8am. This morning is beautiful in DC. Cool, breezy...perfect for running. No matter what, I need to get in a run today. It will have to be after work, but it'll happen.

This week isn't going to slow down any either. I'm heading out to Raleigh for work, coming back to DC, and then going to a wedding in Connecticut  this weekend. 

I can't wait for Labor Day weekend, when I can finally take some time to relax...lounge poolside, maybe visit a museum or two, go for a hike, who knows? As long as it's local, because, after months of trying to figure out where to go, The Pilot have finally planned our anniversary trip and it's going to be incredible!

But I have to finish telling you about Paris before I tell you where we're going!

My goal for this week (aside from kicking off marathon training) is to finish all of my Paris posts and actually get back into a rhythm with my blog because I miss it!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?
Don't forget, the Beyond Bloggers Book Club link up is this Friday! 

You can link up about anything you've been reading lately, but our pick for this month is "Salt to Sea" by Ruta Sepetys. You can vote on next month's pick in our poll here

August 17, 2016

30 Before 30 Check-In

This week marks 6 months until my 30th birthday! I thought that was a perfect occasion to write a check-in post on my 30 Before 30 list! 

1. Travel to Cuba - This hasn't happened, and I'm not sure if it will. I've posted about my mixed feelings about traveling to Cuba before. I'm dying to go, but I want to go the right way. Whether that happens in the next 6 months or not, I don't know. Right now, I don't have immediate plans to travel to the island. 
2. Run a sub-4 marathon - Richmond, I'm coming for you. November 12, 2016.
3. Visit every Major League Baseball stadium (24/30) - I have 6 stadiums left to visit: Miami, Minneapolis, Detroit, Arizona, Anaheim, and St. Louis. With roughly 6 weeks left in baseball season, this might be a tough one to cross off the list. 
4. Cook my way through a cookbook - I haven't forgotten about this one, but I haven't even started. While in Paris, I finally found a cookbook that I want to cook through (after months of searching). I'll be cooking my way through "The French Market Cookbook" by Clotilde Dusoulier. Unfortunately, the movers lost my cookbook (the only item that went missing in my move), so I need to pick up another copy before I can start cooking, but I'm so upset that they lost the copy I bought in Paris at Shakespeare and Company, stamped with their logo! 
5. Do a 30-day yoga challenge 
6. Go horseback riding
7. Blog every day for a month 
8. Buy a designer outfit - This might have to be a 30th birthday present!
9. Go to the ballet 
10. Run another race abroad - This weekend's half-marathon in Vancouver crossed this off the list!
11. Go on another layover with The Pilot - Des Moines, IA - June 2016
12. Take a cooking class with The Pilot
13. Attend a black tie charity gala 
14. Order a wedding album - Our 2 year anniversary is coming up, I definitely need to make this happen!
15. Put all of my photos from my past travels into an album or scrapbook
16. Start writing the novel I have brewing in my mind - I'd like to have an outline done, or at least a full chapter before 
17. Go back to one of my favorite cities with The Pilot
18. See Kenny Chesney in concert
19. Visit another continent. 
20. Pay off my credit card debt
21. PR a race distance other than the marathon
22. Read a book in Spanish
23. Perfect French macarons
24. Go back to Paris with my mama
25. Make a lattice top pie.
26. Master these 30 recipes (i.e. know how to make them without looking at a recipe)
27. Go to one spot in DC and photograph it during all 4 seasons I have two pictures that I've taken in spring. I need to get back and take those shots again this summer to keep this going!
28. Tour the White House - Do you know how difficult it is to arrange a White House tour when you live in DC? Almost impossible. I've applied for a tour through Eleanor Holmes Norton's office every month for 3 months. I'm ready to just call her office! 
29. Take a painting class
30. Visit Carolann in Hawaii

So, I have some work to do! I'm hoping to set a PR in the half-marathon this fall during Richmond training, but I haven't planned any races yet. Just like with my 25 Before 25 list (which started this blog), I won't be devastated if I don't accomplish all of these things, but it's going to be a pretty fun 6 months while I try to get through as many of them as possible!

Do you have a similar list? What's on yours?

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