Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I’ve been meaning to read this book for awhile and had heard really good things about it. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was about and I certainly wasn’t prepared for it.

I love a good murder mystery and I like how this one had the pieces of the mystery interspersed between the story of Kya growing up. The juxtaposition of the chapters with the investigation and the chapters that told the story of her life really helped add to the intrigue and to make the reader feel for Kya.

It’s actually kind of a sad story. The poor Marsh Girl who had to learn how to raise herself. All she wanted was for someone to prove that they loved her by staying and it seemed like everyone she ever let herself care about left.

****SPOILER ALERT****

 

I actually had to stop reading when Tate left to go to college. I thought for sure he would come back and when he didn’t, it kind of broke my heart. He made up for it with publishing her books and ultimately staying with her for good, but it was really sad.

Chase Andrews is a whole other story. You know, he seemed like he did care for Kya. I wanted to believe that he was a decent person. The way he wore her seashell necklace all the time had to mean something, right?

He had seemed kind of sweet at one point, but I guess it was always about getting the Marsh Girl.

The trial had me completely on edge. Once she was arrested, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what would happen to her. I know this is fiction, but every time her lawyer questioned a witness I was so happy because he seemed like he was doing such a good job.

I was very happy with the ending, and the little thing Tate finds at the very end. I’m not sure how she did it, but good for her. Chase would have never left her alone and she wouldn’t have had her happy ending if not.

Sorry for all the spoilers in this one. I just really loved this story and had to get all that off my chest haha.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If anyone else has read the After series, they’ll completely understand why I chose to read Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice next. Kind of crazy how one author’s words can inspire you so much that you feel the need to read other works they mentioned just so that you can understand their characters better, isn’t it?

I’m not super familiar to Jane Austen’s work to be honest. I remember reading Emma in high school, but it was for an assignment and for some reason anytime I’ve been assigned to read it I just don’t do well with retaining any of it. Probably some psychology we could get into there, but this isn’t the place for that.

I also did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I think that and the original novel really should be kept separate from each other. I don’t remember it that well, but as far as I’m concerned they tell very different stories.

When I started reading Pride and Prejudice, I have to say, I was really bored. The first half of the book was really uninteresting to me and honestly I was struggling to get through it without falling asleep. Darcy was a jerk, Elizabeth hated him.

When he confessed his feelings for her it felt really out of place. I understand that he had pride, so he felt that anyone would be honored to receive a proposal from him, but what really made him think she would accept? Maybe he thought she was mean to him because she liked him? It was just strange to me.

However, once she told him off and he wrote her the letter I did start to feel more connection to the story. They misunderstood each other and had to adjust their ways of thinking to come back together at the end. It was cool to see the ways that they both changed.

I did really enjoy the second half of the book. Seeing Darcy redeem himself with Elizabeth and the ways that he was willing to change the way he was and help her out behind the scenes because he loved her was actually kind of touching. Elizabeth ended up with Darcy because she respected him and because he respected her. I can definitely see why so many people love this story.

My grandmother apparently loved the adaptation with Colin Firth, so I may need to check that out eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it’s free on Comcast right now.

Bullet Journal – April 2020 Cover Page & Monthly Spread

Here we are again posting my cover page at the end of the month. Sorry guys! Things have been so strange with the pandemic and the state of the world right now.

To be completely honest, I’m finding it hard to find motivation to do anything. Working from home is definitely not something that I enjoy. Okay, so maybe it was fun for a week or two to not have to get dressed for work and to sit and drink tea all day long. Now it’s just sort of frustrating.

I used to be able to leave work at work. I would drive the 20 minutes it takes to get home and blast my music if I felt stressed about something, and then go home and enjoy my peaceful space.

Now it’s become a part of my space. I can’t really escape it. Even when I shut down for the day I’m still thinking about it. I’m thinking about if I put in enough work for the day. I’m thinking about what I can do tomorrow to be better. Even on the weekends I’m thinking about doing work just because I don’t have anything else to do and could really get a good start on some of the projects.

I’ve tried to do other things to keep myself busy during this time, but it’s really hard.

I tell myself I’m going to catch up on new Netflix series, read more, exercise more, eat healthier, improve my quality of life, etc. I will give myself some credit – I ordered a ton of painting supplies from Michael’s and have started getting back into making art. So far, that’s the one thing that’s helped me stay sane during this stay-at-home order.

I haven’t really done much else though. Plus my overthinking is getting the best of me and I’ve definitely pushed people away…not going to get into that today though.

So now that I’ve vented all my personal COVID-19 frustrations, lets get back to bullet journaling…

I decided to go with a Spring theme this month. I was inspired by the daffodils growing in my backyard. I guess the blooming of flowers after the cold winter is kind of a sign of hope for better, warmer days. I was obviously feeling a lot more positive at the beginning of the month.

I’ve really slacked on keeping up with my habits. I did get in some reading the last two days, so I’m happy that I’ll be able to fill in those little boxes. Really need to start making dinner more, but honestly it’s mostly that I have so many leftovers as a single person that I don’t really need to make more than 2 or 3 meals a week to keep myself fed.

Not really much else to share about this month. How’s everyone else coping?

Before by Anna Todd

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading Before after reading the rest of the After series. I really didn’t want to read about the way Hardin was before Tessa, but I’m glad that I did read it.

At first I was a little put off by this book. When it started out with the back stories of Natalie, Molly, and Steph I definitely wasn’t sure I would finish it. I really didn’t want to hear the details of their hook-ups with Hardin, so I’m glad that it didn’t go any further, but then also it made the introductions to their point of view seem really pointless.

It was interesting to see the first book from Hardin’s point of view. It was kind of surprising how much Molly was actually being helpful and trying to protect Tessa. I thought there would be more from Molly’s perspective and Steph’s too, so it was disappointing that we didn’t get to see that during their relationship. Again, it made it really pointless to introduce their point of view in the beginning.

I really didn’t care about Christian’s part in this book. It didn’t add anything to the overall story. Seeing  what happened with Zed after everything was alright, but again not necessary. I did like the little glimpse into Smith’s world though.

I actually preferred the “Hessa” ending in this book to how it ended in After Ever Happy. The little glimpse into how they ended up was much better than all the time jumps. I don’t think I realized that they never got married until Hardin said it. I guess I just assumed that they had done it at some point.

I read some reviews for the Landon books and I’m not sure that I’m going to read them. Landon was an okay character, but I don’t really feel like he needed his own series. The reviews were basically what I expected and I think I’ve read enough of the universe. We already know that he becomes a teacher, gets married, and has a daughter. I think that’s enough really. I just feel like his story would be much more “vanilla” in comparison to Hardin and Tessa’s story.

After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

What a roller coaster this series has been. The fourth book in this series definitely had more ups and downs than any of the others. Major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned.

So the story picks up with Hardin finding out that Vance is his father. He absolutely loses it and ends up on a bender and abandoning Tessa yet again. She’s fed up, ready to be done with Hardin and goes home only to find her father dead of a drug overdose in their apartment. WHAT? I swear my jaw dropped when I read this part.

Hardin comes back and is finally ready to change, but Tessa isn’t ready to take him back. Really who could blame her? It’s not like he has a great track record and he apologizes over and over for the same things. It does seem like he’s changing this time.

Tessa ends up moving to New York with Landon and Hardin comes for a visit. Everything seems good UNTIL she finds out that he’s written a book about their love story. She reads it and seems to love it, but then we time jump and find out that she didn’t take him back yet.

They still love each other and decide to get married, but then they don’t. The ending time jumps a few more times (not a fan, by the way) and eventually you find out that they did get married and they have two biological children even though the doctor told her she would struggle to get pregnant.

I’m happy with how the story ended. I wish they didn’t have so many time jumps at the end. It would’ve been fine I think to just have one time jump in the epilogue that showed Hardin with little Emery and Tessa pregnant with Auden. We didn’t need the rest of that really.

I’m going to read Before next just because I’m interested in what that could possibly be about and how it’ll make me feel about Hardin now that I love the new and improved version of him.

I may also read the Landon series. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I like how Anna Todd set it up and didn’t really tell us who he was married to. I’m guessing this was in anticipation of the spin-off series. Are Tessa and Hardin in it too? I’ll definitely read it if they’re in it too.

After We Fell by Anna Todd

Finished with book three! I can’t believe there’s only one left to the series (not counting the one that’s about Hardin’s life before Tessa). I purposely tried to drag this one out because I really don’t want these books to end.

These books really are like a soap opera, which I guess is why they’re so addictive. There are so many twists and turns, so many secrets, so much betrayal. It’s kind of crazy because I definitely felt like Tessa deserved better when I was reading the first book, but now I’m 100% in support of their relationship because I really don’t believe anyone could love Tessa more than Hardin, even if his love is kind of all consuming.

I’m about to get into spoilers so stop reading if you’re actually going to read these books.

The thing that happened with Steph at the beginning was crazy. I definitely was not expecting that and couldn’t believe that this whole time she had a thing for Hardin and was mad that he was with Tessa. I did question why she didn’t tell Tessa about the bet if she was truly her friend, but I didn’t really think that she would go this far. Anna Todd did set up everything with Dan though, he obviously would try to get revenge. I also owe Zed an apology for thinking he’d actually send texts from Hardin’s phone.

Everything at the end with Vance was pretty shocking too. It kept being hinted at that Vance had loved someone other than his first wife and Kimberly, but I’m not sure I would have guessed that it’d be Trish. Once Hardin caught them together I absolutely knew that this was where it was going. I also couldn’t imagine reading that and then having to wait for another book to be released. I need to keep reading to find out what happens.

I mentioned already that I fully support their relationship now, which is kind of funny because it’s definitely something I didn’t expect. I could understand the attraction to each other, but they seemed so toxic. I’m sure this was done on purpose, but with all the other people in their lives having toxic relationships as well it almost makes theirs not so bad. Yes they fight and Hardin is way too controlling of Tessa, but for the most part they don’t lie to each other and they don’t cheat.

I’m really rooting for them in the next book. I hope their relationship continues to get stronger and that Hardin comes around and finally agrees to marry Tessa. Also hope that they make this book into a movie as well. I need it to be a movie.

I found out that there’s a book series about Landon too. I’m kind of curious how that one is and whether or not it’s worth reading. I wonder if Hardin and Tessa make appearances in those books. I might actually read them if they do.

After We Collided by Anna Todd

When I read through a book really quickly sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out what exactly I want to say about it. I think it’s safe to say that the After series has me hooked.

At first I was a little put off by the perspective changes, but it was kind of nice to see things from Hardin’s point of view. I always think back to this creative writing class that I had in college where the professor told us that switching the narrator is lazy writing, but I think sometimes it can be done really well and add to the story.

The relationship between Tessa and Hardin in this book was definitely a roller coaster ride. They have so many highs and lows, it’s hard to keep up with. It’s exactly what I was expecting to happen when I finished the first book, and I plan on reading the others, but I really hope it’s not the same thing over and over again. I want to see these characters grow and stop being so toxic to each other.

I kind of wish that Anna Todd would have built more into Zed being a bad guy. I feel like until he took Hardin’s phone to text Tessa I really didn’t believe that Hardin was telling the truth about Zed not having good intentions. I wish there was some foreshadowing to this. Maybe there was and I just missed it?

I really am curious to see what could possibly happen in the next two books. I’ve seen that the fifth book takes place before everything, so that should be interesting to read.

I’m sure I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the third book.

After by Anna Todd

I’m really not sure where to begin with this one. I guess I’ll start with a little explanation.

My mom told me a few months ago that she had watched a movie called After on Netflix and she thought I would like it. Honestly it didn’t sound that great from the description, but after spending an hour trying to find something to watch I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly I was surprised at how much I actually liked the movie. I guess I think that since I’m an adult I won’t like these teen love stories anymore, but really I should just admit to myself that they get me every time.

Obviously, I was excited when I found out that it was originally a book series and that there were multiple books in the series. UNTIL I stumbled across the Wikipedia page where I found out that this was originally written as Harry Styles fan-fiction.

I will say, I’m a big Harry Styles fan and definitely had a crush on him when he was in One Direction. I’m just not really usually impressed by fan-fiction and honestly would never have put two and two together that Hardin Scott was modeled after Harry Styles.

Even after reading the book, it’s hard for me to understand why Anna Todd would turn Harry Styles into this horrible, manipulative character. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the guy who wears flowery suits would act this way towards a woman that he truly loves? I definitely had to disassociate my idea of Harry Styles from the character of Hardin Scott when reading this book.

That being said, I actually really enjoyed reading it. Hardin is horrible and Tessa definitely shouldn’t have stayed with him this long. He’s crazy manipulative and controlling, and the way he is with her is borderline abuse, but I found myself unable to put this book down. Honestly Tessa isn’t much better. They both overreact whenever they argue and even though she tries to see things from his point of view, she still seems to be unwilling to change for the relationship even though she asks him multiple times to change for her.

This really isn’t some great work of literature, but it is entertaining. I’m definitely going to read the next book. Since there are 5 of them, I’m assuming she forgives Hardin again and takes him back. I’m sure they’ll fight more and break up about a million more times, but I do kind of need to know what comes next.

So even though I’m conflicted about the inspiration for the story, I have to say Anna Todd does really know how to keep someone interested with her writing. Maybe it’s sort of like a car crash you can’t look away from? Anyone else feel this way reading it?

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been meaning to read The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks for awhile, and even bought a paperback copy from the bookstore when I went about a year ago, but it’s taken me this long to finally pick it up and read through it. I’m so glad I finally did.

I think in order for me to really enjoy a book I have to either be really interested in what it’s about or I have to be able to somehow relate parts of the story to my life. With this one in particular, there were a lot of things in the story line that I felt I could relate to.

Although I was  a journalism major in college, I took an art major class and actually had considered switching my major because I enjoyed it so much. Still kind of wish I would have done something with art in college. I kind of admired that Sophia had chosen it with her background and having immigrant parents who worked really hard just to survive in a new country. I know she’s a fictional character, but I feel like if she were real it would be a really difficult decision to pursue something you’re passionate about rather than something that will help you land a good job. I respected her for that.

Ira and Ruth’s art collection was also a fascinating part of the story for me. Almost makes me want to start collecting art, but I’m not sure I have the eye that Ruth had. This kind of ties in with me wanted to be an art history major. I just have always had an interest in the arts and it’s cool to think that there could’ve been a couple who lived and met all these amazing artists in their lifetime. Again, I know it’s fictional, but I really loved this part of the story line and how it tied the two couples together in the end.

And, of course, I’ve fallen for the guy who would work himself to death to help out his family. I could definitely see a lot of him in Luke, so that kept me interested. Being a hard worker and family-oriented is something that I absolutely find attractive in a man, so I could understand why Sophia would fall so hard. Definitely been there.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good love story in general? This one had a lot of depth to it and you could tell that Nicholas Sparks did a lot of research while writing. I’m honestly surprised it took me this long to read it and I feel like I should definitely read more of his work.

Any recommendations for what Nicholas Sparks book I should read next?