Sunday, January 20, 2019

New York City & Orlando

In an effort to organize my blog, I have two trips to tell you about that I went on at the end of 2018 into the beginning of 2019.

New York City, New York 
November 24 - 25, 2018
Right after Thanksgiving my sister and two cousins drove to New York City for a night.  We left at about 5:30am on Saturday morning and were about 20 minutes away from home when we got a tire in the middle of the highway and got a flat.  AAA came and changed it for us, and my cousin's parents came so we could switch cars.  We like to start our adventures early.

Although that put us back a little bit, we did make it to New York City without any other issues.  Once we got there, we grabbed breakfast at Tanner Smiths which was really good, and they had live music playing that was amazing.  We spent the day walking around the city - past Radio City, into Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and we popped into the M&M Store.  We also stopped in a few different bars along the way.  That night we went to a comedy show, and I loved every second of it. 

The next morning my sister and I went to The Doughnut Project because my brother wanted us to bring some home and then we went to Milk because of a recommendation our bartender gave us the day before.  Then we all got some food and milkshakes at Black Tap before driving back home. 

Orlando, Florida
December 30, 2018 - January 3, 2019

My roommates and I decided to go to Florida way back in October to visit one of my roommate's grandparents.  However, that roommate ended up having to get her tonsil removed at the last minute and wasn't able to go on the trip.  The other four of us couldn't afford to not go on the trip, so we decided to still go, but shorten it and stay in Orlando instead.

After a day of traveling, we made it to our hotel at about 5:00pm and grabbed some dinner in the hotel.  We sat at the pool for a little bit before going back to our room and watching TV.

Our first full day was New Year's Eve.  We sat at the pool until about 4:00pm and then went to Disney Springs for food and to walk around.  We ended up being in a hot air balloon when the clock struck midnight which was wicked cool because we were able to see all of the Disney parks setting off their fireworks. 

On New Year's Day, two of my roommates went to some of the Disney parks, while myself and my other roommate hung out at Disney Springs.  We ate a lot of good food before heading back to the hotel and going in the pool.  Then we ordered salads from room service to try and balance out all the unhealthy stuff we at in Disney Springs.

On January 2, two of my roommates woke up early to go to Animal Kingdom while my other roommate and I went to Magic Kingdom.  Eventually, we all met up and rode some rides together.  Since it was school vacation, the park was absolutely packed, but we still had a lovely time, and I met Ariel, which was definitely a highlight for me.  

We didn't get back to our hotel until about midnight, and we had to be up at 2:00am to get to the airport.  It was a quick trip with a lot of activities thrown into it, but it was so fun.  Plus, it was nice to visit some warm weather instead of being in Massachusetts for a couple of days.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Books I Read at the End of the Year

This semester was so ridiculously busy for me that I had no time to read.  I can't tell you how many times I turned to someone and said, "I just want to read!" which is a comment with which many people don't know what to do.  I didn't get the chance to read as much as I wanted to, but I did squeeze in a few more books to end the year.
Hot Pursuit by Rebecca Freeborn
I read this book on my phone which is why there isn't a photo of it.  Sarah is a journalist, but she hates her job at a pop culture magazine.  So, when her boyfriend leaves her, she decides to leave town herself and follow around a missing pop star for the chance to prove to everyone she is a serious journalist.  However, the catch is that she has to travel with her photographer co-worker, Nick, who she hates, and once slept with, and is the best friend of her ex.  As they follow the pop star, Sarah and Nick start to realize this is more than a teenager who doesn't want to be found.  The more dangerous their journey gets, Sarah and Nick, depend on each other more and more, quickly realizing that they don't hate each other at all.  This story was a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I was gifted this book from its publisher through NetGalley.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It's the one I am always recommending to people, so if you haven't read it yet, please add it to you 2019 TBR pile! This story contains love and magic, so naturally, it gets my vote just by the description. However, the reason I love it so much is because of the way it's written. Morgenstern has a way of making her readers feel like they can see and smell and hear everything along with the characters at the circus. The story also bounces around from different characters perspectives and different years, and yet, in the end, everything comes together in a fantastic, magical way.
Waiting for an Angel: A Novel by Helon Habila
Helon Habila is a journalist and author who came as a guest speaker to my school. A professor of mine invited him, and after his talk, I decided to ask my professor to borrow one of his novels. Like most of Habila's books, this one takes place in Nigeria. It follows a journalist as life in Nigeria seems to be getting harder and harder, and the people start to reach their breaking point. This novel is one that I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own, but it was really interesting to read after hearing the author talk about it and hearing my professor share his opinions. I found that I enjoyed the novel and it opened my eyes to a different culture and the lives of those in Nigeria.
Hide With Me by Sorboni Banerjee 
This may be the favorite book I read out of this bunch. Banerjee's debut novel is a suspense that depicts just how difficult it is to run from your past. Cade finds a girl in his family's cornfield and immediately does what he can to help her at the risk of being caught by his abusive, drunk father. As Jane Doe heals, she must come to terms that the wrong crowd she found herself mixed in with are after her and the longer she stays with Cade, the more at risk he is of getting hurt too. Both Cade and Jane want a new start, but it's impossible for them to move forward until they come to terms with the lives they have. Working together may put Cade in more danger, but he's not going to let Jane fight her battles alone. Banerjee's story had me hooked from the very beginning. I tried to guess what was happening along the way, but she was able to write in a way that kept me second guessing myself until the truth is revealed. I was gifted this book from Razorbill Publishing.
My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
I have been a fan of Christina Lauren for a while now, and I was really excited to read this new book. It seems like everyone has been on one dating app or another and everyone has a story to tell about them. Lauren dives into this with a twist when a group of friends agrees to make accounts for the same dating app to have dates for a work event. However, Millie finds it hard to be herself online so without telling her friends she creates a new account with her middle name, Catherine, and a photograph that doesn't give much away. When she matches with one of her best friends, Reid, she knows she needs to tell him it's her, but as things between them start to heat up in real life, she finds herself deeper and deeper in the hole she's created. This story raises an interesting question about what to do if your best friend ever catfishes you. In true Lauren fashion, this book balances between seriousness and humor to create an enjoyable read that makes me feel like I could be catching up with friends.
The Brightest Stars by Anna Todd
I've been reading Anna Todd since she was publishing daily on Wattpad. I was excited about this book, and I really enjoyed it. I don't know much about what being in a military family is like, so although the story focuses on Karina's work and relationship with Kale, it was still able to educate me on military life for those who aren't the ones in a uniform. However, I didn't know before I started reading this story that it was the first in a series. I was a little disappointed in the ending because I felt like nothing was resolved, and we never learned why the story starts in the present day and then the rest of it is a flashback. It seemed as if the book ended right at the climax. That being said, this type of cut off is similar to Todd's After series so we'll just have to wait and see what the next book in the series holds.
Life on the Leash by Victoria Schade
Pitbulls and love? Need I say more?? Actually, the love aspect of this book is pretty minor. Don't get me wrong, it runs throughout the whole story, but the main focus is Cora trying to grow her business and audition to be a television host. She cares about dogs and their training and realizes that sometimes the owners need just as much help as the dogs. The story shows her personal growth and how she uses her time to help the dogs she trains. However, no one is perfect, and Cora struggles when she starts to develop feelings for a client who is in a serious relationship. Her roommate tries to talk her out of it, but Cora doesn't take the warning. Instead, she learns for herself which man in her life is the one deserving of her time. This book was gifted to me by Gallery Books.
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth 
The idea of parallel universes has come up quite a few times recently in my life, which is precisely what this book is about so I don't know if that's a coincidence or proof that parallel universes are real. In this story, Camden finds a universe where his girlfriend didn't die in a car crash, but the catch is that he did. Everything is the same and yet different. Camden has to decide how much different he can handle and what things he might have missed in his own universe. I liked this book because it got me thinking in ways I don't usually. Are there other universes? Would I travel to any if I could? Am I dead in any of them? I personally felt the worst for Nina because she has to watch her 'boyfriend' try to get back with his ex. Nobody ever brings that up in the book, but I thought about it. It made me like Nina more and Camden less, but I liked the idea of the two of them coming together in the end, even though we never really got to know Camden's universe version of Nina.
© Juliann Guerra
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