Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Engagement Party

engagement party preparations
Now thats how you stock a fridge for a party! 

Nick Angell family
The Angells

Samantha Angell engagement
The Krause family
Minneapolis engagement party
Christine, myself, and Kara

Nicholas Angell wife
Nick and I at our engagement party
Delta gamma engagement party
Thanks so much to these wonderful women for your support!

For this week's 'wedding' post, I'm going to look back at our engagement party! We hosted it on a Saturday night and rented out the party room from our condo association. It was a pretty chill and relaxed night- we really just wanted to get all of our friends and family together, and having an engagement party seemed like the perfect opportunity!

We had loads of burgers, brats, and hamburgers, as well as plenty of beer and wine!

I can definitely tell looking back that this party was hosted way before I had started my blog, because I only have these pictures from it (although I know more exist, I'm just not sure where!) At this time, Nick and I had also not even been thinking about coming back to the hockey world. He was working downtown, and my restaurant's grand opening was in just a few short days! We loved the opportunity to get together with our friends and family- and eventually, have a night out on the town. Thanks so much to everyone who joined us in celebrating our engagement!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Our First Home Shopping Experience

first experience home shopping
The very first properties Nick and I looked at while home shopping!
A few weeks ago, Nick and I had an open Sunday afternoon and decided to go check out a couple of new homes and do some house shopping- just to see whats out there. It was a very good learning experience for both of us. We headed to a new development in Chaska, Minnesota and checked out a couple of model homes before heading to a previously owned home in Eden Prairie. The first house we stopped at was a D. R. Horton home, the portico model (complete with a finished basement!) We both thought the house was alright, but definitely not perfect for us. My favorite part, of course, was the gorgeous bar in the basement. Check out the pictures I took!

Seriously, how could you not love this bar area?

cool wine cork holder decoration
Very cool wine cork decoration!
far-out view of the gorgeous bar area.
 In short, I was completely in love with the bar area. It would be perfect for having friends, family, and guests over. After home shopping here, I definitely decided that having a nice bar area is an absolute must once we buy our first home-home (meaning bigger than our condo).

The next house we looked at was built by Robert Thomas homes. To be honest, neither Nick or I was in love with it- especially since it was more expensive than the first house, smaller square footage, and didn't have a finished basement. The lady was attempting to sell us on the 8-foot doorways matched with 11-foot ceilings (apparently, thats all the rage right now)…but we weren't quite buying it. The house was nice, and had some better features than the first house…but didn't seem quite worth it!

After checking those two houses out, we had just enough time to head to a showing of a previously owned home in Eden Prairie. I won't even talk about that really, because neither of us liked it- at all!

Nick and I both learned a lot from our first experience home shopping together. We realized that we will more than likely have to build our own home, just because of how picky we both are and what we want. While this may not be the cheapest way to buy a home, it will be better for both of us because eventually the home we buy we want to stay in for a long time. However, neither of us are quite ready for that yet, but someday… Suburbia, here we come (in a couple years!)

Have you ever gone home shopping? What was your experience and learning take-aways?

A Season In Pictures

Well, one hockey season abroad is over and in the books! As Nick and I are now relaxing on our honeymoon, I think now is a good time to look back on the year, and I will do so today by choosing my favorite picture from each month while in Sweden (or traveling!)

Nick Angell wife
my favorite engagement picture!
August is when Nick and I were able to have our engagement pictures taken! Micke MÃ¥nsson did such a fabulous job with them, and was able to edit and return them to us within a week. This is probably my favorite picture of the entire bunch! August was a busy month for both Nick and I. We moved, got settled, shopped for new things we needed, and both him and I started hockey. We didn't do too much traveling- just some trips around Southern Sweden- but had plenty of time to get settled. For me, it was a lot of wedding planning during the month as well, preparing to head home for the big day!

year in pictures: Oktoberfest in Munich
visiting Oktoberfest in Munich
September was a very busy month for us! The regular season started, and of course we also got married in September! We got married on the 14th, and headed right back to Sweden on the 15th. After that, I had a few weeks to enjoy married life before heading to Munich for Oktoberfest with my brother and two of our friends. Oktoberfest was an amazing time, and I can't wait to return! My brother, our friends, and myself traveled to Prague before heading back to Sweden and catching a few of Nick's games. 

at the club in Stockholm
October started out quickly, with our first visitors to Sweden. After they had left, Nick and I visited Stockholm for my first time. We toured throughout the city, and on Saturday evening were able to go out (for the first time as a married couple!) We had such a great time exploring Stockholm together! The end of October slowed down, with Nick having a wisdom tooth removed and then a quiet night at home for his birthday. 

celebrating Thanksgiving in Sweden
Thanksgiving in Sweden!
My favorite picture from November comes from our Thanksgiving celebration. We had friends from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, and the US celebrating with us, and it was an absolute blast! The food was delicious, and it was so nice to be able to celebrate with our friends. We had a couple of our friends visit in November for Thanksgiving, so we were grateful to have both old and new friends with us.

year in pictures Eiffel Tower
from our visit to Paris!
December was another busy month for us. We started the month of by visiting Bubbetorp, a Christmas Market near Karlskrona. One of Nick's favorite things about having spent so much time in Europe is visiting the Christmas Markets. Then, just a few weeks later we were off to Copenhagen and Paris for our Christmas trip. In Copenhagen, we spent time at Tivoli Christmas Market and had a quiet night before heading to Paris early the next morning. It was so nice to stroll around Paris as a couple and enjoy everything the city has to offer! After Paris, we came home for a quiet Christmas before Nick headed back to practice and I headed to the USA to surprise my family for a quick weekend. I made it back to Copenhagen just in time to celebrate New Years Eve with Nick and some friends in Copenhagen, and that was such a wonderful experience- I look forward to Euro NYE's to come!

hanging out in the Gamla Stan in Stockholm
January started off very quickly, with my family visiting us for the first two weeks. My Mom and younger brother had never been to Sweden before, and my Dad only really for work, so it was nice to show them around Nick and I's new home country. They also got to watch a few of his games, both at home and away. After they left, I was busy starting my MBA and working hard on that- as well as hibernating, as winter finally seemed to have started in Sweden!

my family and the KHK fans
February was a pretty quiet month for us, as I was busy studying and Nick was working hard wrapping up the regular season- thus, why February's picture is one from the previous month when my family visited!

Nick's Selfie

March was another busy month! KHK made playoff till Kvalserien, so of course we were busy with that. Towards the middle of the month we could really feel the nice spring starting to shine through. Then of course, the boys didn't quite make Kvalserien, so Nick and I packed our bags and headed back to Minnesota! 

So there we have it, with a season in pictures of each of my favorite pictures from the month. Of course, there are so many other pictures and times I thought of and wanted to include- but I have already posted about many of those memories, so this was just a nice way to recap everything month by month! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

That Time We Went to a Brewers Game

Miller Park Brewers Game
Nick outside of Miller Park
Nick Angell Brewers game
"holding up" his friend's sign

Nick Angell wife
Nick and I enjoying our great seats for the game!
Nicholas Angell wife
Hanging out in Miller Park

A couple of years ago, Nick and I headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the weekend. We had plans to catch a Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park, hang out with my best friend's parents, and head to Summerfest! Our first stop of the trip was the Brewers game. Now, neither Nick or I are huge baseball fans by any means (despite having season Twins tickets) so we donned brand new Brewers hat and headed towards the game. We had been hooked up with some great tickets for the game, so we had a really good opportunity to catch a good ball game!

Eventually, being a baseball game- the game got a bit long and drawn out! We went to walk around the stadium, and of course snapped a photo of both of us sitting in the giant baseball glove. I enjoyed the game more after our quick walk- especially since I had grabbed a delicious strawberry daiquiri!

The weather on the day of the game was perfect for a ball game. Sunny, warm, and a little breeze to keep the air moving. We both really liked Miller Park, and will probably try to catch another game there  this summer if we are able to make it out to Milwaukee! What is your favorite baseball stadium?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How I Got Brainwashed By An Infomercial

my bottle of 'miraculous' Wen!
A little over a year ago, I was hanging out at home watching TV in bed and got brainwashed. I was channel surfing, and paused to watch an infomercial for this supposedly amazing hair product that would make my hair feel brand new. I had been unhappy with my hair for the past few months, and when I saw the infomercial for Wen Hair Care I paused to watch. And by paused, I mean did not move for the next two and a half hours, as I set mesmerized by the Wen infomercial and became instantly brainwashed.

Now, it wasn't an instant brainwash. But after I finally tore myself away from the brainwashing, Wen was all I could think about. Every time I touched my hair, I thought about how I needed it. Could I really rationalize spending $30 a month on some hair product that I had never tried? Finally, after about two weeks of thinking about Wen more times than I think about food in a day (which is a lot), I took the plunge and bought it. As soon as it arrived, I hopped in the shower, eager to see my amazing Wen results!

…and results, I didn't really see. Sure, it was nice not to use shampoo, and instead just use a cleansing conditioner. Especially when you have my super tangly hair, its nice not to use shampoo. But for the ultra-soft, manageable, gorgeous hair you see in the commercials? Yeah, my hair didn't exactly turn into that. And by didn't exactly, I mean it just didn't.

So, after I had received two shipments of Wen (because, of course, I wanted to give it a good-faith effort- perhaps it just took time!) I cancelled my subscription and haven't thought about purchasing it since. To be brutally honest, I still use my Wen- I just use it as my shampoo now. I don't really have greasy hair, at all, so using this cleans my hair well enough. Then, I use another conditioner to make sure my hair is really soft, silky, and shiny like you see in the commercials- I just use other products!

That is my story of how I was completely brainwashed. Even as it was happening, I knew I was being brainwashed- but they did such a good job I didn't even care that I was being brainwashed! Have you ever experienced Wen, or been brainwashed by another infomercial/product?

brainwashed by an infomercial
And of course, like any great infomercial, I received a
free bonus gift! (which I strongly disliked) 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DIY At Our Wedding

Good afternoon! Today, I am going to look at and feature the do-it-yourself (DIY) aspects from our wedding! There certainly was a lot of this, thanks to frequent Pinteresting by me, agreement to the projects from Nick, and a lot of work by people involved (a huge thanks to everyone involved! We were fortunate enough to have help from both my parents and Nick's, my maid of honor Julie, and all of my bridesmaids. You were all a huge help!) Without further ado, here we are with the DIY projects from our wedding!

DIY wedding card box
DIY Card Box
 My Mom was able to make us a card box for our wedding, using a couple of old cardboard boxes, ribbon, tape and some wedding wrapping paper!

DIY Centerpieces
DIY simple wedding centerpieces
our centerpieces and rose petals
Our DIY centerpieces were also pretty easy-  just a couple of trips to the Dollar Store and we were done! We bought vases that were about the size of a gerbera daisy and added some small rocks to the bottom of each vase. After that, it was just adding in a little bit of water, placing the daisy inside, and scattering a few rose petals on the table before our centerpieces were done. 

DIY cupcake stand
Our cupcake stand!
 To be completely honest, I have no idea how my Dad was able to make the cupcake stand for us. This was an idea I had seen on Pinterest and fell in love with- fortunately, he was able to create it for us!

DIY wine cork place cards
our DIY wine cork place cards
DIY wine cork place cards
Another view of our wine cork place cards
 The wine cork place cards were another Pinterest project that I found and knew right away I wanted for our wedding (plus, they were a great excuse to drink more wine and save the corks!) This is one project I will warn you on- it takes way more time than I was expecting! With tons of help from one of my bridesmaids and maid of honor, we were able to slice the corks (only a few cuts on fingers from that!) and get the place cards into the wine cork. After that, we used toothpicks to prop the wine corks up. Took a lot of time, but I thought they looked really nice at the wedding!

DIY hockey puck table numbers
Head table number on my side of the table

DIY hockey puck table numbers
All of the completed table numbers!
 As shown previously, my Dad also helped us out and made the table numbers for us- without me even finding the idea on Pinterest, he just thought of it! At the head table, we had a "7" on Nick's side (his hockey number) and an "11" on my side (my hockey number).

So those are (almost) all of the DIY aspects from our wedding! In addition to those, I also created and printed the programs, vases for the bouquets to be displayed at the head table, and a few other random projects. DIY certainly took a lot of time, but a lot of the effects were very nice as well! For those of you who have been married, what did you DIY at your wedding (if anything) or wish you had done? How did Pinterest affect your wedding planning?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My 16th Birthday Surprise


Hello! Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about my 16th birthday and the surprise I had waiting for me. In Minnesota, you can get your drivers license the day you turn 16, which to any teenager means independence. I, like many other teenagers, was dreaming that for my 16th birthday I would be receiving a car for my birthday.

Of course, I knew this wasn't likely to happen. My parents had told me that it wasn't going to happen. My older brother didn't get a car for his 16th birthday, so why would I?

Of course, I dreamed. I hoped. And in the back of my mind, I thought that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that for my 16th birthday I would be receiving a new car. I even had it all picked out- I wanted a brand new, 2006 Mustang. Of course, I would settle for a variety of other cars- but a mustang was what I really wanted.

So, the morning of my 16th birthday I had scheduled my drivers test for 8:30 AM. There was no school that day, so I got to sleep in a little bit before heading out to take my test. As soon as I woke up, I remembered it was my birthday and that maybe, just maybe, there would be a car parked out front! So I flew out of bed and peeked out the window… and there, in my driveway, was a brand new mustang! Beautiful, black, freshly washed, and looking really good. I could already see myself driving around town in this new car, all of my friends jealous that I had actually gotten a car for my birthday.

I decided that I should play it cool while I ate breakfast- after all, I didn't want to spoil the surprise with my parents. I was positive that they wanted to be there when I walked outside to check out my brand new car. So, I headed down to eat some breakfast before leaving for my test. As soon as I finished with breakfast, my Mom tossed me the car keys and said "hey Sam, why don't you go warm up the car before we leave for your drivers test?"

…ding ding ding! It was time! I put my coat on, and got ready to put on my surprise face. I calmly walked out the front door, and rounded the corner- and right there was my brand new car! But, why were there two cartons of cigarettes in the front seat? And why was my Mom not looking out the front door to see my reaction?

At that exact moment, my Dad and his friend walked around the corner, and that is when I knew. This wasn't my brand new, beautiful car. This was his brand new, beautiful car-- that I had heard about, and knew he bought, but just hadn't seen yet.

So much for getting a car on my 16th birthday! Has anyone else ever had an experience like this?

**A little side note, I did have a wonderful 16th birthday with my family and friends. I don't remember what we did, what presents I received, but I do remember that it was great to be surrounded by the people that love me. And who needs a car when you have that?! It also took me about five years to tell my parents this story. **

Friday, April 18, 2014

That Time We Went to Lambeau Field

trip to Lambeau Vikings versus Packers
driving up to the stadium!
When Nick and I were still just dating, he quickly learned how much my Mom and I love the Vikings. She has had season tickets for years now, watches every game, and owns just about every Vikings thing imaginable. Seriously. Sometime this spring I was walking with her through a store and saw a Vikings cutting board, and said "hey maybe I should get you that, it could be the only Vikings item you don't have!" …. or so I thought. Turns out, she had a set.

Nick found out that we had never been to Lambeau Field, and so a trip was planned for him, myself, and my parents to head to the Vikings vs. Packers game at Lambeau Field in December 2012. Lambeau really was the experience of a lifetime, and each of us had an absolute blast at the game. As a football fan in general, I can really appreciate the history behind Lambeau Field- plus, outdoor football is awesome! I am so excited that for the next two years the Vikings will be playing at TCF Bank Stadium outdoors. Without further ado, here are some pictures from our trip to Lambeau!

Nick Angell at Lambeau Field
Nick and I before tailgating!
tailgating at Lambeau Field
Some of the Packers fans shared their "shot syringes" with us!

syringe shots tailgating
Well, my Mom and I enjoyed that much more than Nick and my Dad!

tailgating at Lambeau Field
My Mom enjoying tailgating- and wearing the belt! 
Vikings fans at Lambeau Field
Nick, myself, my Dad, and my Mom!
Going to the Vikings vs. Packers game was such a great time. We all had a blast, and I know Nick and I can't wait until we can go again! My Mom and Dad were lucky enough to return this year with a couple of friends. The atmosphere at Lambeau was a great experience- as was the tailgating! The Packers fans weren't even as bad as I was expecting, and welcomed us to their tailgate with open arms. My first trip to Lambeau was definitely an experience I won't forget!

Weekend Inspiration

weekend inspiration quotes
Happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a great week. In the event you haven't, or you haven't accomplished all you would like, here is one of my most recent favorite quotes and a bit of weekend inspiration for you.

"You have exactly one life in which to do everything you'll ever do. Act accordingly."

And friends, isn't that the truth. Many of my favorite quotes are those that inspire you to act, dream big, and accomplish things. We all know these quotes. The general gist of them, is that most often you will only regret the things you don't do. Because we all make mistakes. But I think this above quote encompasses even more than that- it really inspires you to act, dream, and accomplish things. After all, we each only have one life and only a limited amount of time to accomplish what we would like.

What are you going to do this weekend, and how does it correlate with what you want to accomplish?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shopping For my Wedding Dress

One of my favorite memories from the wedding planning period was going shopping for my wedding dress. My Mom took the day off from work, and her, myself, and my Maid of Honor Julie headed out to hit the shops. Of course, the day we planned on going dress shopping there had been a huge snowstorm the night before- and despite the eight inches of snow, we set off to find a dress! Fortunately for me, I had helped a friend find her dress a few months back, and so I knew a couple of dress shops to look at. With this, we had decided on going to Macy's Bridal Salon, Mary Kay Bridal (a small boutique that is now closed), and David's Bridal.

Now, I thought I knew what I wanted for a wedding dress. I wanted something simple, form-fitting, a corset back, and just a little bit of detailing. I absolutely did not want a princess dress, something lacy, or something that wasn't white. Of course, I had heard from people that you go into dress shopping and come out with something completely opposite of what you want- but didn't believe there was a single chance that would be me!

The first stop for us was Macy's Bridal Salon. I had made an appointment, and as we got there the woman inquired a few things. The first thing she asked was the date of the wedding- which at that point, was just over five months away. You can only imagine the slight heart attack I had when the saleswoman informed me that I should really order within the next two days to make sure the dress would be here in time for alterations and the wedding. Talk about pressure! After explaining to her what I wanted in a dress, we pulled 10 or so gowns and started trying them on. Finally, I found one I liked… but didn't love. I really didn't love when the saleswoman said we couldn't take a picture of it to remember as we continued shopping (so of course, as soon as she left the room, my Mom and MOH snapped pictures). You can tell by the look on my face that this was NOT the dress for me (even though I liked it!)

the only dress I "liked" at Macy's Bridal Salon
Our second stop was Mary Kay Bridal. Again, I found some dresses I liked- and even one I really liked! But, I didn't have "the moment". The one you hear about, where you put your dress on and can just tell that its the one. Where you cry, your Mom cries, your MOH cries. So, a few dresses later we headed out from Mary Kay to hit our last stop, David's Bridal.

Now, one of the things they don't tell you about wedding dress shopping is how the dresses will fit. At both of my first two stops, every dress I tried on was about a size 96 (just slightly exaggerating) and I had to be literally clamped into the dress. Makes it pretty hard to see what the dress actually looks like! In addition to this, they don't tell you before dress shopping that all of the other shops will look down on David's Bridal, and tell you not to go there because "everyone buys their dress there."

When we walked into David's Bridal, I have to admit I was a little worried. Because of what the previous women helping us had said, and because of the woman helping us. When I explained what I wanted- form-fitting, no lace, corset back, simple-- she instantly pulled about five lacy princess-style gowns from the rack. I was worried. Nonetheless, my helpful troop helped me pick a few dresses off the racks and we headed towards the fitting room. As I had been looking at dresses, I kept eyeing this one dress on the mannequin. It was princess-style, but had this gorgeous beading and detailing on it- I couldn't stop staring. When I mentioned to my Mom that I kept looking at it, she told me "well, you might as well try it on as long as you have all these other dresses too." Of course, they didn't have the dress in my size- except on the mannequin- so we took that right off her and brought it into my fitting room!

The first couple dresses I tried on were fine. Then, I put on the dress- yes, the dress I saw on the mannequin. Before I was even all the way into it, I could just feel it. I knew, and I had the moment. Once I was all the way in, I headed out into the fitting room hallway and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Again, I knew. But of course, I had to ask my helpers. I turned to my MOH first (because even though I knew it was the one, I wanted validation. If she said she hated it, it would hurt. But it would be easier to hear from her than my Mom). She said she loved it. Then, I turned to my Mom.

Well, she was standing there with her back turned towards me! I couldn't believe that here I was, standing in the dress, and she just had her back turned and wasn't even paying attention. So, I asked "well, what do you think Mom?" … and when she turned around stating "well, your making me cry" with tears in her eyes, I lost it and joined her in tears. I had found my dress.

After that, I hung out in that dress for about an hour. I tried it on with the custom veil made for that dress, and knew I needed the veil too. I cried. My Mom cried. My MOH cried. The saleslady cried. The Mom of a girl I used to play hockey with (that just happened to be at the store) started crying. Yep, this was definitely the dress.

shopping for a wedding dress
yep, this was the one!
shopping for a wedding dress at David's bridal
so happy I had found my dress!

shopping for a wedding dress at David's bridal
and I found my veil too! Perfect for the dress
I never wanted to get out of it… but eventually, it was time. We thought about ordering it from the catalog, but this dress has just gotten to the store that week and been on the mannequin for one afternoon. After a quick inspection, we bought the dress, veil, and walked right out of the store with my wedding dress! I could not WAIT for alterations to start, just because I knew I would get to wear the dress again. The only thing I wasn't looking forward to about my dress was keeping it a secret from Nick for the next 5.5 months- but I was successful in this (mainly by showing every other person in the world who asked pictures of it!) To my readers (if you've been married) how was your dress shopping experience? I'm looking forward to hearing more stories!

Yes, once I was out of my dress I took a picture of the "sad dress" without me in it on the ground. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Worldwide Favorite Restaurant: Lo Zodiaco in Rome

Lo Zodiaco restaurant review
The view from Lo Zodiaco

Several years ago, Nick and I made a trip to Rome and found perhaps my favorite restaurant in the world, Ristorante Lo Zodiaco. This restaurant had delicious food, great service, and even better views of the city. It was the perfect place to spend a night out on the town, overlooking the city, and enjoying the company of each other. Lo Zodiaco is situated just outside of the main city, and gives you great views over the city (as you can see from above!)

After having spent the past eight years working in restaurants, and my dreams of owning one, restaurants are a passion of mine. I love finding new spots that really hit high standards, and Lo Zodiaco is just that. They impressed me in every way, and I have recommended them to anybody I know that is going to Rome.

Caprese Salad at Lo Zodiaco
The Caprese Salad at Lo Zodiaco
 We started dinner out with a specialty aperitif that our waiter suggested. Nick loved his (and enjoyed mine as well!). I typically don't drink liquor, so while the aperitif was good it wasn't quite my style. Instead, I chose to order a bottle of wine and stick to that! The caprese salad had a very unique presentation, with the tomato slices and mozzarella stacked upon each other.

Lo Zodiaco Rome Restaurant
Our dinner at Lo Zodiaco
Nick and I ordered the special for the evening, which was a two-person deal. Each of us had half of a fresh lobster served with spaghetti in a lobster marinara sauce, and in one word this meal was abso-freaking-lutely-amazing (yes, that may be a couple of words, but it was that good!) The portion sizes were very generous, and both Nick and I stuffed ourselves until there wasn't a bite left on either of our plates. 

Our experience at Lo Zodiaco was so wonderful that we returned for dinner once more before we left Rome. While the special for the evening had changed, they were willing to accommodate us to the best of their ability, and created a similar meal to the one we had the first night. This was certainly above and beyond what I would expect of any restaurant, and they did not disappoint. 

For any of my readers, have you ever had an amazing experience at a restaurant such as this that you recommend to everyone? I would love to hear your experiences and recommendations! 

Lo Zodiaco Rome Views

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Recent Reads

My three most recent reads!
As I mentioned in my "30+ in 13" list of goals for the next year, one of my goal's is to read at least 50 books. For me, this isn't really a challenge as I tend to read a lot- which is why my personal goal is to read at least one book a week. Usually, I have tended to go in spurts, where one week I will read five books and the next week read zero. So far, I think I have done pretty good! Here are the books I have read over the last two months or so:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
  • Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan 
  • Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • Crossed by Ally Condie
  • Reached by Ally Condie
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
  • Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
So far, I think I am doing pretty well with 13 books down! By the time you are reading this post, I am likely way ahead of this, as I have brought a stack of about ten paperbacks on the honeymoon to read and leave at the various resorts we are staying at. Ignoring the fact this list may be a little dated, I'll give a quick review on each of the books I read!

The Giver
The Giver is actually one of my all-time favorite books (despite being required reading in school!) It is based on one boy's life in a Utopian society, that is gradually becoming more distopic. I selected this book in part because I have enjoyed reading it before, as well as finding out the movie would be coming out this year and wanting it front-of-mind. There are sequels to the book (which I have downloaded onto my Kindle and will read on the honeymoon!) 

 The Breathing Series: Reason to Breathe, Barely Breathing, and Out of Breath
This series was a very quick and easy read. The series tells the story of a girl, Emma, and her life from the time she lives with her Aunt and Uncle, until college, and finally rediscovering a form of relationship with her Mom. For someone looking for a quick, easy, and not-always-lighthearted read, this was a relatively good series. 

The Book Thief
The Book Thief is one book I had actually never heard of until I discovered it was due to be a movie in 2014. Because I always enjoy books more than movies, I knew I had to read it before seeing the movie. The book told a story I was not expecting, that was incredibly hard to read at parts and beautiful at others. It was not always an easy read, and actually took me some time to complete. For anyone planning on seeing the movie, I would definitely recommend checking the book out first! 

The Storyteller
Jodi Picoult has been a solidly good author (in my opinion) and so I took a chance on her new book, although it seemed a little strange to me. The Storyteller is is the tale of a quiet, withdrawn girl who becomes friends with a 90 year old man. The book really gets interesting when you start learning more about the story of this 90 year old man, and what he claims his life was as an SS soldier in Nazi Germany. Another great book, and set in a very interesting time of history to learn about. 

The Matched Series: Matched, Crossed, and Reached
The Matched Series is one that has some similarities to The Hunger Games, where it is set in a society that the citizens must follow the rules of. The series also follows the story of a girl, and her potential love life between the guys in her life. The books were an easy read, and something I would recommend to a person who enjoyed reading The Hunger Games.

Another book that is a movie now- which of course, I have read the book and not seen the movie! The book actually surprised me, as I enjoyed it a lot (and had not thought I would based off the movie previews). I was skeptical going into it, but quickly became hooked and wouldn't put the book down. For those of you who haven't heard of the book or movie, the book tells the story of a teenage girl living in a post-apocoliptic world in Chicago. A dystopian society book, this has been one of the favorite books I have read this year!

Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster
These books were another really easy read, and tell both sides of a love story between a young college girl and her boyfriend. The perspective in the books was good, and an interesting read, but I don't think these are books I would have necessarily picked up on my own and started reading. However, once I start a book- or begin a series- I always have to finish it!

Reconstructing Amelia
Wow. This book took me a little while to get into, but once it started moving I have been sucked in and not able to put it down! I can't (and wouldn't) tell you how it turns out, as I still have about 20 pages left- but I have been with this book almost constantly for the last day, tuning out anyone who tries to talk with me. Another one I would recommend! 

So, there we have it with all of my recent (or not-so-recent!) reads. I really enjoy utopian or dystopian novels, and plan on trying to finish the Divergent series as well as reading the rest of the sequels to The Giver over the next few weeks. I know I need to start reading some more challenging literature, but it is so hard with how quickly I can plow through other books. To my readers, what recommendations do you have for me? I would love to hear any recommendations, and why you loved those books! 
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