Young Adult Reads

Since I’m working on catching up on posting about some books I have read, I figured I should maybe post more than one at a time. There are a lot to write about. Here are a few young adult books I have read in the past, um, well, while.

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The two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt delivers the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen, who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter. After spending time in a juvenile facility, he’s placed with a foster family on a farm in rural Maine. Here Joseph, damaged and withdrawn, meets twelve-year-old Jack, who narrates the account of the troubled, passionate teen who wants to find his baby at any cost. In this riveting novel, two boys discover the true meaning of family and the sacrifices it requires.

Orbiting Jupiter was a short and quick read, but also really sad. I think I came across this one from a friend’s reading list on Goodreads. I liked the book, but it was also too short in my mind. I would have liked more about the characters. I didn’t know that it was going to be so short when I started it, so I was surprised and a bit disappointed. Had I known its length going into it, I might have enjoyed it more. But it was still a good story and a good read if you like underdog stories.

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Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificent Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. When their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Margo has disappeared. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Embarking on an exhilarating adventure to find her, the closer Q gets, the less he sees the girl he thought he knew.

I have only read one other book by John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), but I had mixed feelings about Paper Towns. I was really excited to read this book, but I found the story to be a bit slow at the beginning. I liked the story and the idea, but the book didn’t end the way I expected (which isn’t bad). I don’t really know what it was exactly that kept me from really connecting to this book, but when I finished it I just felt kind of meh about it. If you like other John Green books, you will probably enjoy this one. I still want to read a couple of his other books, but this was just ok. I even started the movie and wasn’t very drawn to it so I didn’t finish watching it. Possibly because I am too old to connect with that age of character very deeply. Who knows. You may love it. But it wasn’t high on my recommendation list.

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Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden.

Shadow on the Mountain was a book my city did for a community-wide reading event called OneBook OneRosemount. They have the author come speak and have an abundance of the books available for reading. I didn’t make it to the author discussion, but I liked the book. I have read a number of books set in WWII. But this was a little different story. More from the kids’ point of view. It was a fast read with some twists. If you don’t enjoy reading books about WWII you may not enjoy this one. But it was a good read if it’s a genre you do enjoy.

Happy reading!

andi

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A Man Called Ove

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I recently discovered the joy of audio books. I know this sounds strange considering it’s 2017, but I am a little slow sometimes when it comes to new trends.  I started listening to them while I was painting and quickly discovered that I love listening to them in the car, too. The kids are plugged into their movie so I can have some time to “read” when I don’t really have the time to read otherwise. It’s wonderful.

This was the most recent book I listened to. It’s a book my book club is reading for March, but it became available and I finished it a lot faster than I thought I would. Here’s a summary of the book.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was such a sweet book. I was instantly drawn to this character. He reminded me so much of my grandpa and his grumpy demeanor. Ove had so many terrible things happen to him during his years and I love that some neighbors gave some new excitement to his life albeit unintentionally. I loved all the characters and the story. I loved how it was written and the story was told so beautifully jumping back and forth through time.

I highly recommend you read (or listen to) this book. It will make you laugh, scowl and possible cry while arming your heart. Happy reading friends.

andi

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June!?

It’s December 21. I last wrote almost exactly 6 months ago on June 22nd. Not for lack of thinking about ye old blog here, but I just haven’t done it. Something else has come up or something else needed to be done. I’m going to have to make a serious list of all the things that need to be documented on here. Since I am so crappy about making baby books for my kids, the least I can do is document some of their childhood here. Smile

Wishing you all a happy holidays! Our xmas card (if you can call it that) is below. We decided not to send one out this year. I’m just posting it virtually online. Save a tree, right? Or laziness. Whatever works.

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andi

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Speak

We read “Speak” for book club a couple months ago. First, here's what it's about:
The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

This was hard to read at times, but a powerful, and slightly oddly written book. Since it was from the perspective of a high schooler, it was choppy and hard to read at times. I was able to get past the character's prose because the book was interesting. The summary above gives a good idea about the book. It takes a long time in the book to find out what happened to her. And albeit graphic, I thought it was kind of anti-climactic for being such an integral part of her story.

You can really see how such a trafic event can dramatically change a person. That was hard to read. But she has a teacher who can tell there's something she needs to get out.

It was a good book in hindsight, but I imagine there are better books out there that touch on this topic were you looking to read something about a similar incident. The other ladies weren't terribly fond of the book because of the topic and graphic details at times. It was a fast read if this is something you might be interested in reading.

Happy reading, friends.

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Date Night

I’ve been trying to plan date nights for Chuck and myself before he leaves for Seattle. We have done puzzle rooms, out for sushi, a cooking class, dinner with friends, adult night at the zoo, and the other night we went wandering around Minnehaha Falls and then met some friends at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival. It was such a fun evening. It was a really hot day, but with our summer weekends being numbered here in Minnesota, it was so fun to get outside and do something active instead of just going to a movie or something. It’s so nice to have time together without the kids and do things we used to do when it was just us.

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andi

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Sushi Skills 101

Last month, for a date night, I signed us up for a sushi making class through Cooks of Crocus Hill. This class taught us all about sushi (which is the rice) and how to make it correctly. We also learned how to make nigiri and some rolls. There was a lot of great information and it was so much fun to try something new!

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Their kitchen was so pretty!

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We were given some recipes in our packet and the chef made the most amazing soy sauce mixture we have ever had. We wanted to drink it! We also got the recipes for sushi rice, and a few rolls.

We watched the chef demonstrate and cook a bunch of stuff and then he set us loose to try all the stuff he taught us.

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I really like nigiri and found I liked the cucumber rolls. I didn’t think I would, but I was pleasantly surprised. I also liked the spicy tuna rolls the chef made.

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At the end, while we were asking questions, the chef just continued to make rolls for us to pass around and eat. He got fancier as we neared the end of the class.

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We had a lot of fun and Chuck wants to try making some at home. I usually say I don’t like sushi, but a couple weeks ago I finally had my first sushi craving. Apparently you just get hooked on sushi and want it all the time. I didn’t think that was possible, but it happened. So Chuck was happy to run out and get some for us for dinner!

I really enjoyed taking this cooking class and I plan to sign us up for another one sometime in the future. It was nice to go do something other than just dinner and a movie (which is wonderful). There’s just something about going out, learning something and making it that is so satisfying and perfect.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Or done a fun activity or something out of the ordinary for date night? I love suggestions!

andi

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A Visit From Seattle

Our long-time friend, Kelly, and her daughter, Aria, came to visit us a couple weeks ago. I literally squealed when she told me she booked a flight here and was even more excited when she decided to stay with us! That meant loads of baby snuggles and Kelly-time!

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Chuck also made his best batch EVER of pretzels!!!

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We went to one of her favorite restaurants one night for dinner. It was fun to bring all the kids there. Thankfully, it’s not a super classy joint, so we weren’t bothering anyone with all the kids (whom were all very well-behaved). We also spent a morning at the zoo and had lunch at Noodles.

The kids were really good with Aria and liked to play with her. Maddie was especially loving of her…and Aria liked Maddie a lot!

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It was a brief, but wonderful trip. I am so thankful that she came all the way here (after staying a number of days in Georgia) to see us and let us meet her sweet little girl!

I am hoping to plan a trip out during Chuck’s July trip to Seattle. I am really excited to go out and see some of my dear friends there! It’s so good to be back home in MN, but I still miss my friends there. Thankfully, 2016 makes it pretty easy to stay in touch with each other!

andi

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Building My Skills

A dear friend of mine asked me if I would help her make a website for a business she wants to start. I couldn’t be more excited that she asked me. I love web design even though I am quite an amateur at it. But this is something I would love to add to my resume as a skill I have for future jobs in the tech field one day. I have helped my dad build a website (of course with help from Chuck) and we will be doing some updates to his site soon, I have had a few websites of my own over the years and I am hoping to do a bit of updating to my site soon. I am so honored that she asked me to help. This is a perfect project for me to gain some more knowledge and skills.

A few weeks ago I went to a Geekettes event. I love their events. They are a great place to talk to women in varying stages in their tech degrees. This time there were some amazing speakers (one I would LOVE to work for one day) and a t-shirt company was there screen printing shirts. I come home from those events so excited and motivated. It’s so fun to hear how people have come into the tech field and what varying positions there are. It gives me confidence that I will be able to find something that is a good fit for me one day.

I also follow some Facebook groups on similar topics to Geekettes and keep looking for events to attend. I had sent out an email to a few people and posted on FB to see if anyone wanted to join me. I didn’t get any takers. Maybe it was because they weren’t free that night or it could be a sign of how intimidating the tech field can be for women.

I have done some more research about various jobs and have a book I really want to read about project management in my list of books (I haven’t decided if I am going to buy the physical book to have the author sign it – which she said she would) or just buy the kindle edition. After talking to one of the speakers, she seemed to think I would be really good at project management. It is appealing to me, but I worry I am too much of a pleaser, not strong-willed enough, or not the right personality for it. But I think those are just my insecurities talking.

After I get my friend’s website up and running and looking the way she wants, I’ll be sure to post it here. I think it’s something many of you will want to utilize!

andi

 

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Some New Meals

It’s been almost a month since I posted something here. I am slacking! I’ve been trying to make some new meals here and there.

The most recent one we tried (and I loved…even the leftovers) was Spicy Grilled Tofu. I didn’t take any pictures, but trust me! It was so yummy! I made some brown/wild rice in the rice cooker to go with it and sautéed some peppers/onions/garlic to go with it. Yum! I used only 1/4 cup syrup instead of the 1/3 cup and I didn’t actually grill the tofu. I just seared it in a pan. Still delicious. The only things the kids ate was a little bit of the rice. I can’t remember what I had leftover in the fridge for them to eat for dinner that night.

Tonight, I am making Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats. I have seen similar recipes to this one online many times, but decided to finally try it. I’m really excited. The kids probably won’t touch this. I’ll give them some to try, but most likely they will eat a cheese quesadilla.

I am planning to make some tofu lettuce wraps next week, as well.

We have made these Veggie Packed Pizza Roll-Ups many times and we love it! We make a bunch of sauce and freeze leftovers for another time. They are so filling since you make whole wheat dough for them. We like to add some extra spices/seasoning in them and sometimes some bacon bits. The kids will usually eat these, but Chuck also uses some leftover dough and makes them some breadsticks with them (which they dip in ketchup…weirdos).

Some of our favorites are:

  • Onion Rings, homemade pizza (sometimes we make the dough and sometimes we just use store bought)
  • Taters & Veggies (I could eat this for every meal)
  • Spaghetti (we sauté a BUNCH of garlic, peppers and onions and add it to the sauce, which makes me eat less pasta because the sauce is so filling)
  • pancakes/waffles and eggs
  • Veggie Soup (which we had last night for dinner)
  • I think I am going to try making the Chicken Noodle Soup I like with tofu instead of chicken
  • Fish tacos

I’m trying to broaden my food horizon and try some new things, but I still throw in some favorites. Making a new meal too often can be challenging and even make you less excited to try more new things. So I am trying for one new meal a week. I like having a big arsenal of go-to meals. Smile And another thing I do is add the meals we are eating to our shared calendar. Then we can see what is coming up or adjust as need be if something comes up.

Do you have any favorite vegetarian meals that you love that we should try? If so, please send along the recipe! What do you do for meal planning/prep?

andi

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Superhero Party

This year Maddie knew exactly what kind of birthday party she wanted…. “a Superhero party with ice cream cake!” So that’s exactly what she got!

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We invited family and a few friends over and it was so fun and simple. I got a bunch of capes for the kids (and a few extras for adults to play with), made a photo booth backdrop and cut out masks and such. We played Kids Bop music and ordered pizza and ate DQ cake. It was perfect!

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Grandma Linda made more amazing gifts this year. She made Maddie her very own superhero cape, headband and wrist bands and a Barbie tent/sleeping bags/campfire! She is SO creative! The kids were fascinated by the Barbie stuff.

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Thanks to our family and friends that could be there (or sent gifts in lieu of your presence) and helping to make this girl one very happy superhero!

HERE is a link to the photo gallery from the party.

andi

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