Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Photos-o-the-Day

A few critters from the sea...




Sunday, January 25, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Club


I came across this card years ago and it gave me a little chuckle because it described our book club perfectly. Many of us didn't read the books but still showed up to meetings to hang out (and eat snacks, of course!) And others read the books but then didn't show up to meetings (to their credit, they sometimes wrote up book reports to make up for not being there in person.)

I started the little book club back in 2005. Even with busy schedules, and folks not reading or not attending meetings, we still had a solid group that continued to read (or at least attempt to) 3-6 books per year. We managed to keep this club going for 9 years and I loved it. Being part of the group encouraged me to pick up books that I would not have initially been interested in or even known about. It was also gratifying to be surrounded with friends that enjoyed reading as much as I did. And most importantly, it was just so much fun getting together to socialize, nerd out on books, and eat yummy snacks several times a year. After I moved, we attempted to continue the group for a short while with two reads, Gulp and The Cuckoo's Calling. I attended meetings via video chat, but it just wasn't the same anymore. Sadly, the book club has fizzled since then, and I am so bummed about it.

Nine years was a good run, and I am proud that I kept a club going for that long. I will always cherish the wonderful times I had with my own little "Bad Girls Book Club."

Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Hike of the Year

I've been itching to go on a hike lately, so we finally got out and explored a new area today--a 6.5 mile trail in Toro County Park. Since I'm very out of hiking shape, the uphill climb was quite a challenge. It reminded me that I need to go hiking more often and get back into shape! It was a sunny day and we were surrounded by lush green hills and an expansive blue sky. We continued the trek at a slow and manageable pace and finally made it to the top of Eagle Peak, which rewarded us with a wonderful view. Sitting at 1600', Eagle Peak overlooks Monterey Bay and the Salinas Valley. It was a bit hazy over the bay so we couldn't see clear across to Santa Cruz, but I was excited about being able to spot Pt. Pinos and Moss Landing. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Morning Stroll



Grateful for another magically beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Morning Stroll


This morning was cool and foggy. It's the type of weather that this area is known for, although we have seen little of it since moving here. The sunny blue-skyed days have far outnumbered the foggy ones, so it was a nice change to have a blanket of gray-white enveloping of for a little while. There's a special kind of calm that settles over the landscape, and it was perfect for taking a stroll through the neighborhood park with a friend. Fresh air, surrounded by majestic trees and shades of green, hearing birds chirping and fluttering and woodpeckers drumming away. I was once again filled with gratitude to be living in such a wonderful place, one that reveals its beauty in so many different ways. I hope to always continue to discover and appreciate this magic.

We chatted, strolled, and collected pine cones for a project at work. A lovely way to spend a Sunday morning!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015

Back to Reading


Besides picking up our book club selections, I had taken a bit of a break from reading for the past few years. With more time on my hands recently, and a lovely well-stocked library in town, I actually read 14 books in 2014. That's probably more than I read in the past several years combined! Sadly, I didn't keep track of my reads during that time, so I don't have an accurate list between 2011-2013.  But I'm finally tracking my reads again, so here's my 2014 list. As you can tell, I still have a love for YA novels. I know, I know, my reading tastes should be more sophisticated now that I'm older. I should be reading the classics or thought provoking novels, biographies, current events…not fluff. But YA fiction, there's just something about it. The books are such fun, quick, and enjoyable reads that I just can't help it!

2014 books

1. The Cuckoos Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
This was a book club selection. Most of us are Harry Potter fans and were curious about the book JK Rowling wrote under a pseudonym. It was fairly enjoyable, but was nowhere close to the epic HP world. A little slow at times, and a tad predictable, but not a bad read overall.

2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I really liked this book and have been recommending it to friends. It has a strong and likable main female character and an interesting storyline. I just wish this was turned into a series! Although there are two other books in the "Graceling Realm"--Bitterblue and Fire--those can be read as stand-alone stories and do not feature Katsa as the main character. I would love to hear (read) more from Katsa.

3. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
An adorable short and very quick read by the quirky Neil Gaiman. Yes, I would recommend it!


4. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I'm a little on the fence about this one. It has an interesting premise and wasn't a bad read, but I don't know, I just didn't love the writing or storyline. I enjoyed it for what it was, but don't think I liked it enough to recommend to others.

5. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
This totally hooked me at the beginning but started to fall flat as the story went on, I wish it could have kept the momentum. Not bad overall though, I enjoyed it well enough.

I enjoyed it enough to be intrigued and went on to read the second one.

I didn't enjoy this next book in the series enough to continue on. 

8. Matched by Ally Condie
Underwhelmed by this book, although it seems to get fairly good reviews. I think it was a little predictable and reminded me of other dystopian worlds I've already read, including Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

9. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
This book kept me engaged and was a page turner. Although I didn't like it as much as Graceling, I still enjoyed this read.

10. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Really loved this book and would totally recommend it. Likable characters and just a fun read. Plus, how can you not love it when it has such a great title!

11. Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Along with another great title, the second book in this series was just as enjoyable as the first. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the third book, Waistcoats and Weaponry!

12. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
I loved Ann Brashares' "Sisterhood" series. Although this book doesn't quite reach the charm of the sisterhood stories, I enjoyed the time-traveling element in the plot.

13. Atlantia by Ally Condie
Underwhelmed by this one too. Not much to say about it, but it was good enough to finish at least!

14. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Very different from Ender's Game, but wonderful in it's own way. Speaker for the Dead was such a page turner, I kept reading because I had to know more about what was happening. I really liked the writing style and how story slowly unfolded. 

And, for the list of books I didn't finish. These are the ones I tried reading, but just gave up partway through. They were that bad... 
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Feed by M.T. Anderson