Show Us Your Books – July Edition

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

Hey, internet friends! Long time no see! I’m working on a catch-up post, but today is Show Us Your Books link-up day, so let’s talk books!

Here’s what I’ve been reading the last few months:

(Amazon links are affiliate links because cat food is expensive.)


You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads * Amazon

I enjoyed the two previous books by these authors (The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl – you can find my reviews here and here respectively) so I requested this as soon as it appeared on Netgalley. Like their other novels, this is told in chapters that alternate between different perspectives. I love that they always seem to do the main character’s perspective in first person and the other chapters in third – makes it much easier to keep up with.

This definitely sucked me in – I read 89% of it in one sitting on the night I started it. The only thing these authors don’t seem to nail with their books is the ending. For all three, the endings are fine, but not super satisfying. I’d still recommend this one for a rainy night in, though.


The Dilemma by BA Paris

Goodreads * Amazon

It’s been ages since I’ve read any fiction, so I requested an advance review copy of this Netgalley. I went into it knowing basically nothing about the plot. I’ve previously read Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back by this author, and I recall them being interesting but frustrating. The story is told in chapters that alternate between husband and wife, and the timeline jumps around a bit. After reading a couple of chapters, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be that into it. At around the 20% mark I felt like things were moving WAY too slowly, so I basically skimmed through until I found the answer to the big question that had been raised. Once I saw that, I didn’t really care to read any more. I had expected it to be a psychological thriller like the author’s other books, but nope. I read a Goodreads review that called it a short story stretched out into novel length, and that feels pretty on the nose. It’s really rare that I don’t finish a book, but this was a no for me.




Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Goodreads * Amazon

I read Wild back in 2009 long before it was a movie and Cheryl Strayed was a household name. I was finally able to get this collection of Cheryl’s “Dear Sugar” advice column from my library. It’s one of those books that I had to read in small chunks, because most of her answers to the advice questions are so poignant. Definitely recommended, but go into it ready to feel all of the emotions.



Goodreads * Amazon

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness

I already loved JVN from Queer Eye but this book made me love him so much more. I had no idea how much he’s been through – he’s had such a crazy life and he’s only in his early 30s. This was a fun (despite a lot of heavy stuff), quick read and it got me to start listening to his podcast, which is great. (I only recently learned that Bobby from Queer Eye worked at Applebees in Branson where I grew up! I need him to write a book now, too!)


Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

Goodreads * Amazon

I love Caitlin Doughty. This is her third book and all three are great. She runs the “Ask a Mortician” YouTube, and much like that channel, this book answers a lot of the questions about death that you never really realized that you had. This time, she used all questions that kids have asked, with one question as the subject of each chapter, so you get to learn things like “Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?” and “What if they accidentally bury me when I’m just in a coma?” Caitlin is so, so good at handling these subjects with both respect and humor at the same time.


Live, Love, and Hack Life – A Fresh Look at Understanding Law of Attraction by Jennifer Teske

Goodreads * Amazon

Here’s something I didn’t expect to be saying in a review – I recommend this book whether you’re into the Law of Attraction or not simply because it has one of the BEST systems for identifying what you actually want and removing the mental blocks you have around achieving those things that I’ve seen anywhere. There is a big shift about halfway through where the author talks about her experience with trauma for a few chapters, but she then uses that as an example for shifting your thought process, so it makes sense.

(Complimentary review copy via NetGalley)


Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn

Goodreads * Amazon

I first heard about Carrot on the podcast “Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoniette”, which is one of my favs. She was a big inspiration in the host’s decision to start long-distance hiking.

Amusing note – the top review of this book on Amazon says that the author hated it because there was too much cursing, promiscuity, and lesbianism. It’s so cool that someone managed to time travel from 1822 to write an Amazon review! 🙄 What makes the reviewer’s disgust even more amusing is that the author has implied (there’s nothing spelled out) sex with one girl on her journey and spends the last 30% or so of the book falling for a dude. C’mon, reviewer!

That said, the writing is not always great. I found that there was a lot of detail about things I didn’t care about (such as exactly what everyone ate when they went into town) and not enough about things I was curious about (I think I was halfway through when I realized I had no idea what any of the hikers she was hanging out with looked like or much about their personalities at all.) I saw that a lot of reviews said she complains too much, but I found that honest. If you’re 500 miles into a hike, you’re mostly thinking about pain you’re in and wondering if you have enough water like 80% of the time and things like “Wow, those mountains are majestic!” and “What am I going to do with my life after this?” like 20% of the time at best. It makes sense that since this was adapted from her blog posts while on trail, it reflects what she was actually thinking about for all of those miles. So basically the writing is so-so but the journey is interesting and I wasn’t ready for it to be over when she reached Canada. It’s very much what you’d expect as a first book that was adapted from a blog and now that she’s been writing and long-distance hiking for like 7 years I think that if she wrote a second book it would be much better, but I still enjoyed it.


That’s it this month! Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately.

WIN a Family Pass to Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson OR an Authentic Pirate-Era Coin! (Hello Spring Giveaway Hop)

WIN a Family Pass to Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson OR an Authentic Pirate-Era Coin! (Hello Spring Giveaway Hop)

If you saw my post about Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO last week, you’re probably considering checking it out the next time you’re in town. Good news! It’s giveaway hop day and I get to treat one of you to a Family Pass that will get 2 adults and 2 children into the museum!



If you won’t be visiting Branson in 2020, don’t worry, we have a giveaway option for you, too! One lucky winner will get an authentic pirate-era coin that is from between 1400-1600 AD!


The museum’s gift shop has all kinds of cool coins recovered from shipwrecks, so one of you will be receiving a coin that was underwater for at least 400 years!!


PLEASE NOTE that there are two DIFFERENT giveaway options below! The first one is to win the Family Pass to the museum, the second is for the pirate-era shipwreck coin. The family pass is only good in 2020 and will have the winner’s name on it, so please only enter that giveaway if you can make it to Branson this year to use the pass. If you want to gift it to a family member or friend that you know will be in Branson this year, I am happy to put their name on it when you win, but it can NOT be sold or otherwise transferred once you give me the name to put on it.

You are totally welcome to enter both giveaways, I just want to make sure the museum pass goes to someone who can actually use it!

Both giveaways are open to US residents ages 18+. In the highly unlikely event that the same winner is drawn at random for both giveaways, they will get to choose one prize and a new winner will be drawn for the other. Winners will be contacted via the email they provide in the Rafflecopter form and will have 48 hours to reply to the email to end their prize. Giveaway start at 12:01 am on March 17th and ends at 11:59 pm on March 31st. You can return daily for extra entries into both giveaways.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out the other blogs participating in the Hello Spring giveaway hop! There are a lot of fantastic prizes, and you can enter to win as many as you’d like!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Located at the Branson Landing, the brand new Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO just had its official ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday. This interactive treasure museum is filled with fascinating artifacts recovered from miles beneath the ocean’s surface!


Branson shipwrecked treasure museum


I received complimentary museum admission to facilitate my review.

Whether you’re a history buff, a pirate enthusiast, a rare coin collector, or just a fan of visiting museums while on vacation, Shipwrecked Treasure Museum offers something for everyone. I loved learning the stories behind each exhibit, and it’s crazy to look at artifacts like a piece of pottery that was literally underwater for thousands of years!

Read More Read More

Show Us Your Books – February Edition

Show Us Your Books – February Edition

Happy Tuesday! It’s been a few months since I’ve participated in the Show Us your Books link-up, so I’m glad that I finally finished a post on time! Can I get some kind of trophy for that?


Here’s what I’ve been reading recently:


As You Wish

Goodreads *Amazon

A while back I was discussing The Princess Bride with a friend and realized that I had never read the book. When I went to borrow it from my library (see below) there was a long wait list, but this was available, so I grabbed it! I listened to the audiobook, which is read by Cary Elwes, which definitely adds to the experience. It’s fun to hear his experiences making the movie, from learning how to fence to stories about how much Andre the Giant could eat. Check it out if you’re a fan of the movie!



The Princess Bride

Goodreads *Amazon


As always tends to happen when you finally read the book that a movie is based on, this gives a lot more depth to the story and characters that I never knew. Where the movie has the grandfather telling Fred Savage the story, the book is set up as the author abridging this old text that he found, so you still get the interludes. It’s a fun read if you haven’t already!

(It’s available to read for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! You can get a free month of Kindle Unlimited here.)




The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

Goodreads * Amazon

I was super excited to find a new Bill Bryson book available on Netgalley for review! I love most of his travel books, but I didn’t make it very far through his last nonfiction. I’ve really enjoyed this one, though! It’s full of crazy facts about the body and medicine, and there’s a little bit of humor sprinkled in to keep it fun. It’s one of those books that makes you annoy your friends because you keep saying things like, “I’m reading this book about the body and I just learned that…” 

A couple of my favs:

*According to the USDA, about a quarter of all chicken sold in stores is contaminated with salmonella.

*”Giraffes, oddly, sometimes have gallbladders and sometimes don’t.”

*Loss of balance usually makes you nauseous because your brain doesn’t know what’s up and interprets it as you being poisoned. 

*Almost 3/4 of the prescriptions written in the US for antibiotics are written for conditions that can’t be cured with anitbiotics.


If you like reading nonfiction that gives you random trivia to spout off, this one is a lot of fun.




Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottleib

Goodreads *Amazon

You’ve probably heard about this memoir by now. The author is a therapist who winds up seeking therapy after a breakup. The chapters alternate between her experience in therapy and her experiences with her patients. It’s one of those books where you laugh, cry, and have big “ah-ha!” moments. One that stuck with me is the idea that when we lose someone, whether through a breakup or death or whatever, we like to keep talking about them almost obsessively for an extended period because it’s a way of still feeling connected to them. 

People often mistake numbness for nothingness, but numbness isn’t the absence of feelings; it’s a response to being overwhelmed by too many feelings.


Side note – There’s an episode of the Armchair Expert podcast that interviews the author that’s worth checking out if you like the book.


Finish – Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

Goodreads * Amazon

I am terrible at finishing things. As an example, I currently have 156 posts published on this blog, and 51 half-written posts sitting in the drafts folder. Some of those drafts have been sitting therefor YEARS. I’m great at starting, but definitely have issues around finishing things.     I listened to this as an audiobook (borrowed from my library) several months ago and really enjoyed it, but when I went to write about it here I couldn’t remember anything, so I got on the waiting list and finally got to listen again. Yay! However, even after listening again all I can tell you is that I found it to be good motivation – I can’t remember the other takeaways.

“The opposite of perfectionism isn’t failure, it’s finished.”

“You don’t just give time to something, you take it from something else.”


Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah

Goodreads * Amazon

I was browsing my library’s nonfiction e-books and found this. The description mentioned it being similar to Educated, which I loved, so I had to request it. The author grew up as a Jehova’s Witness and wound up moving to China with her husband to attempt to convert people. As you can imagine, living in a whole other culture opened her eyes to a lot of things she had been sheltered from. I can’t say that this was anywhere as good as Educated, but it is an interesting read.


Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading and reviewing.

Friday Favs – Where Did January Go?

Friday Favs – Where Did January Go?

Happy Friday, friends! Is it just me or did January fly by? I had over a week of SUPER slow speeds (it took an entire hour to upload a 10 MB file one night!) and then almost another entire week of no internet at all. This seems to happen every winter, but I’m so happy to be back in business!

I’m considering doing my Friday Favs posts just once a month for awhile. With the weather so cold and being laid off from several of my jobs, I haven’t had many exciting things to share. I’d way rather do a post once a month with things I’ve really been loving than stretch to come up with five things on a week when there isn’t much new!

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:




1. I reread The Artist’s Way at least once a year, and it always brings up new ideas and new motivation. It;s one of those books that changes as your life does, and I always get something new from it.

There are quotes in the page margins, and I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately:



2. You may have noticed my blog looks different! I’ve been wanting to fix some things with my blog design FOREVER. I’m pretty decent at CSS and HTML but I HATE doing it. Plus, I learned on blogger since I used it from 1999 until like 2016, so WordPress is still foreign to me. Last week, I finally gave in and decided to see if I could find someone on Fiverr to fix two small things for me. I knew that what would take me hours to figure out would probably take someone experienced a few minutes. I found a guy who does WordPress work for $5, so I asked if he could fix the weird alignment issue I had with the top of my sidebar (for some reason it was like 3 pixels out of alignment and it drove me nuts) and fix my main column so that I could post photos that were at least 800 px wide instead of 600.

Unfortunately, my old WordPress theme was built in a super weird way that I would have needed to get the background graphics totally redesigned to make the changes work, so the guy I hired got back to me and let me know that unfortunately it just wasn’t going to look right if he made the changes I asked for. I was refunded quickly, which was a bummer at first, but I really appreciate that he was so honest about his limitations. I wound up just switching to a whole new theme instead, so while I miss my palm trees, at least I can post wider photos now!

If you have nagging tasks that you’ve been meaning to get around to for ages, I totally recommend Fiverr! Some people charge $10 or $25 or more for their work, and the site adds on a small fee. (I paid a total of $7 for my $5 project.) They have a referral program, so if you sign up via my link, you will get 20% off your first purchase! And like I mentioned, they are great with refunds if things don’t work out. I still consider it to be a really good experience even though it didn’t go as expected.




3. Although it’s super cold today, we’ve had a few REALLY nice days in the last month or so! I can’t resist a nice sunny day, so I’ve been outside a lot. I decided to put together a comprehensive guide to local hiking trails, and it’s a crazy amount of work, but I’m having a blast doing it! My first post should be going up next week, if I can ever manage to finish editing all of the photos. It’s been so fun to have a creative project to work on that I know is actually going to help people!




4. I found these gorgeous vases at Walmart of all places. For $4 each! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but they’re quite large – maybe 8″ tall? Can’t decide if I like the clear or the iridescent one better. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to share since they’d be perfect for holding flowers you receive, or filling with the absurd amount of chocolate that you buy for yourself. (I think we know which of those categories I fall into.) I’ve been trying to think of other things I could use them for – basically I’m trying to justify a $4 purchase to myself. This is how my brain works. It’s fun in here.


5. Here’s to making better life choices in 2020. We’ve got this.


Linking up with A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites