Sunday, December 31, 2017

Silent Night by Natasha Preston | Book Review


Reading Group: Anyone who's read the Silence series

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: Join Cole, Oakley and their family for Christmas day in this 7,000 word short story.

Cover: This cover shows Oakley and Cole embracing in what I am assuming is the last scene of the book.

My Review: This is a little extra story that just allows you to check in and know that Oakley and Cole are still going strong.  It's Christmas day and they're enjoying it with family.  Jasper is proposing to Holly, her mom and Miles are loving being grandparents, and Mia is still single, but happy.  Everything is good, but Oakley still knows that she has some more healing to do.  The end of Christmas comes with a surprise for Cole when Oakley tells him that she's pregnant with their third child.  It's such a happy little check-in story.


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Players, Bumps, and Cocktail Sausages by Natasha Preston | Book Review


Reading Group: Anyone's who's read the Silence Series

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: Putting his player ways behind him, Jasper Dane is now strictly a one-woman man. Jasper, desperate to start a family with his wife, Abby, is devastated when she puts their baby plans on hold. Holly has just arrived back in town for the summer, and after landing a job with Jasper, the two form an unlikely friendship. Abby’s immediate dislike of Holly and Jasper spending time together causes him to question his wife’s fidelity. Broken hearted at Abby’s sudden change of heart and suspicious of her reasons, Jasper takes action, sparking a chain of events that make his once well planned out life spiral out of control. To get what he wants, he first has to lose everything.

Cover: The cover of this book shows a very attractive man, Jasper, who is showing off his playboy ways. 

My Review: Just like Broken Silence, this story begins a few years after the one before it ended.  The biggest difference between this one and the other two books is that this one focuses on Jasper which is why it's a companion novel within the series.  Jasper was always close with Oakley when they were growing up, but he never knew about her abuse.  Now, almost ten years after finding it out he still blames himself for not being there to protect her.  He's married his first love, who cheated on him when they were teenagers, but is hoping this time will be better.  Sad for Jasper, this history repeated itself and now he's going through a divorce and is having a baby with his friend's sister.  He wants to be a great dad, but he is petrified of something happening to his child the way it happened to Oakley.  He's already had a repeat history with Abby, why couldn't it happen with his daughter?  But the way he's acting isn't healthy and once he realizes this he is able to admit that he needs some type of closure.  He agrees to see his dad and even though he doesn't get the answers he wants, Jasper is able to say what he wants and that's a step in the right direction for him.  He has a long way to go, as does everyone in his family, but he's finally taking care of himself and starting to ease his own guilt.


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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Broken Silence by Natasha Preston | Book Review


Reading Group: Anyone who's read Silence

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: It has been four years since Oakley, her mum, and brother fled to Australia. With the trials looming, she makes the decision to return to England. Oakley is desperate for closure so she can put the past behind her and move on with her life. How will she cope when she comes face to face with the two people that hurt her the most, and the one person that she hurt the most? Her love for Cole never faded, but how will he react to her return after so long? Will they be able to put everything behind them in order to have a happy ending?

Cover: On this cover, you get to see some of Oakley's face as she's letting everyone into her world and revealing her secrets.  It appears that she is on a beach, which is where she would go for walks in Australia in order to have some time to herself.

My Review: I actually liked this book more than the first one and stayed up all night to read it in one sitting.  I liked it because she was letting people know what happened to her and she was finally giving the details that would give justice to her and anyone else affected by the abuses of her father and Frank.  Of course, this was incredibly difficult for Oakley, and she had her moments when she didn't know what exactly what the right thing to do was.  She decided that as long as she told the absolute truth, she would be able to find closure and hoped that the truth would be believed by the jury.
And of course, there was also the situation between her and Cole.  The two of them loved each other, but at first, it was as if they were trying to see if logistically it was worth the heartache to move their relationship back to what it was before Oakley left in case she left again.  Eventually, Cole is the one to come forward and decide he didn't care, he just wanted to be with Oakley.  By the end of the story, Oakley is finally able to take a deep breath and be happy with everything in her life for the first time ever.  She has no trials looming over her or no reason to wonder what the love of her life was doing, she was happy, and it was entirely deserved.
I think the reason I couldn't but this story away until the very end was because at the beginning I was wondering when they would get back together and then once they did the story turned toward the trial and I wanted to know how that was going to turn out.  There was a lot of events going on in Oakley's life that were all happening at once, and I couldn't go to bed without knowing the answers to everything.


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen | Book Review


Reading Group: Anyone who loves Sarah Dessen

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!


Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna's summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged now that he's met the one he really wants.  Maybe Louna's second chance is standing right in front of her.

Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.

Cover: This cover is very on theme to the book with a bride throwing a bouquet. 

My Review: I went into this book fully believing it was going to go: girl meets boy, girl and boy banter, girl and boy date, girl and boy fight, girl and boy break up, girl and boy reconcile, happily ever after.  Don't get me wrong I would have loved if that's how this book went since that is how most of my favorites go, however, that is not how this story went and I still loved it.  
Louna was in love once - entirely, intensely in love - and it ended unexpectantly and horribly.  I thought the fact that Ethan died in a school shooting versus a car crash or something else unexpected was a shocker, but also a sad reminder that school shootings are real threats that happen and can take away people we care about.  It's also something that from Louna's point of view I can't even imagine how painful it would be to explain.  How do you tell people that your boyfriend, who you talked to an hour ago is dead because someone from his school decided to open fire?
Now nine months later in walks an obnoxious player named Ambrose, who your mother is forcing to work with you as a favor to a client.  She starts off tolerating him and getting to know him.  And then they make a bet.  I love when bets are made in books because they always result in some form of jealousy that proves the two people actually like each other.  This one took a little longer, but Louna does start to realize that she doesn't like that Ambrose is in a committed relationship.  Meanwhile the entire time Ambrose was just playing along because he wanted it to result in Louna going on a date with him, which William called very early on.  But it's hard for Louna to look at Ambrose or anyone else the way she looked at Ethan and when Ambrose finally learns the whole story, her first reaction is to run from him.  However, a couple weeks later she gets scared that something's happened to him and when she finds out he's okay they thankfully get together.
I spent a lot of time reading this book just thinking, Okay when are you two going to at least kiss? And usually it would bother me that they don't get together at all until the end, but the nature of this book had me okay with it.  Louna needed time and therefore Dessen made all of us readers wait it out too.


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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Silence by Natasha Preston | Book Review


Reading Group: Sensitive Material 

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: For eleven years, Oakley Farrell has been silent. At the age of five, she stopped talking, and no one seems to know why. Refusing to communicate beyond a few physical actions, Oakley remains in her own little world. Bullied at school, she has just one friend, Cole Benson. Cole stands by her, refusing to believe that she is not perfect the way she is. Over the years, they have developed their own version of a normal friendship. However, will it still work as they start to grow even closer? When Oakley is forced to face someone from her past, can she hold her secret in any longer?

Cover: This cover shows Oakley facing away from the reader.  I think this is symbolic of how she is really only allowing the world to know half of who she is since she decided to stop talking.

My Review: I got this book free from iBooks, and I really enjoyed it because I thought it was an interesting and important theme about a possible side effect of abuse as a young child.  Oakley was abused by her father's friend and then told that no one would believe her if she said anything, so she stopped talking altogether.  During the book, she's growing up, and she and her best friend Cole start dating, but towards the end, she comes face to face with her abuser again and finally speaks up for herself.  The thing I really didn't like about this book was that you never actually saw her come face to face with Frank.  I liked that Oakley talking came from Cole's point of view because I thought his reaction to his phone ringing and hearing the ringtone was important, but I thought there should have been a chapter before that showing Oakley with her dad and how Frank showed up and how she ran away from them.  I think that would have been an essential scene in the story because it was what finally drove Oakley to call Cole and talk to him after eleven years of not speaking.  To me, it just felt that the whole book was leading up to that moment and then it never really came.  I wanted to know what was going through Oakley's head and what it felt like to speak again.  But other than that I enjoyed the story.  Not talking was how Oakley coped with what happened to her and even though she could never forget the events she was still able to have a normal relationship with Cole and her brother at least.  It made me sad that she didn't think anyone would believe her if she told the truth, but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who can relate to not speaking out because someone with more authority told them it was a waste of time.  And especially for Oakley, that person was her father, who was supposed to be someone she could depend on to protect her.


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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover | Book Review


Reading Group: Mature for sensitive material

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened. 

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.


Cover: The cover of this book shows shattered lilies, which is significant to the story.  Obviously, the main character's name is lily, and she is really into gardening and flowers, but lilies are also the first flowers that Ryle ever bought for her and having them shattered on the cover foreshadows how their story is going to go. 

My Review: This book is very serious, but I absolutely loved it.  Lily grew up watching her father be abusive to her mother and then finds herself in an abusive relationship of a completely different type.  I liked how I couldn't get mad at her for knowing better because she also knew that she knew better, but she also finally realized that even though she saw abuse all the time in her life it's one of those things you can't fully understand or pass judgment on until you're in the situation.  I also liked that I didn't hate Ryle by the end of the story.  I hated what he did, but I didn't hate him completely, which is how I felt Lily felt as well.  Their good times outnumbered their bad but the bad weighed so much that they weren't worth the time.  She was right to divorce him, but also right to keep him involved in their daughter's life.  
Ryle was tortured and dealing with things from his past and Lily let him have that.  She understood he was different from her father, but she also knew that she couldn't live with him not knowing when he was going to lash out at her.  And even though part of her was willing to give him another chance she decided against it because she didn't want Emerson to have a tainted relationship with Ryle if she grew up and ever saw him being abusive.
And then there was Atlas.  The source of a lot of her marital problems, but also the one who could have prevented them all if he had just walked up to Lily while she was in college.  And he was also the one she turned to when everything went wrong and when she was ready to open herself to love again.  
Lily grew a lot over the course of this story.  She quit her job to follow her dream, she fell in love again and was brokenhearted when that love fell apart, grew closer to her mother, and she was selfless when it came to her daughter.  She was truly brave and bold.
I really enjoyed reading this book and think it was one that carried a very important message.


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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What Light by Jay Asher | Book Review


Reading Group: High School+

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.


Cover: The cover of this book just shows a girl in a hat hugging someone.  Originally I figured it was Sierra hugging Caleb, but why would she need a hat for her green chritsmas is California?

My Review: This book was the perfect thing to read this time of year because it completely revolved around Christmas.  Every year Sierra travels from Washington to California to sell Christmas trees from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, and so far it's been fine balancing her Washington friends with her California friends.  However, this time might be the last time her family opens the lot, and Sierra doesn't know how to feel giving up something that she has had her entire life.  Add in the fact that this is also the year she meets Caleb and Sierra has no choice but to make this year the most memorable one yet.  She learns that caring for the town outcast comes with its own set of hurdles, but nothing quite like spending time with someone when that time has an expiration date.  The two deal with discovering how they feel about each other why also avoiding the fact that they live in two different states.  Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but Sierra learns it can also be a time fo stress and confusion.  For Caleb, it's another time to feel guilty that his sister doesn't live with him and his mom year round.  Both Caleb and Sierra have things they are trying to deal with during this time, and even though it doesn't seem right to be starting something new, they find each other right when they need to.  Sierra teaches Caleb that he can move on from his past and that it doesn't define who he is today.  While Caleb reminds Sierra that sometimes people are worth obstacles like distance.
This book is completely different from Thirteen Reasons Why for so many reasons, so if that's what you're looking for from this author, it isn't what you're going to get.  This book is different but still great.  It was a light-hearted, happy story perfect for the holidays.     


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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book Review


Reading Group: 18+

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: From subway to Broadway to happily ever after. Modern love in all its thrill, hilarity, and uncertainty has never been so compulsively readable as in New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren’s (Beautiful Bastard, Dating You / Hating You) new romance.

Marriages of convenience are so...inconvenient. 

For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.

Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.

Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?


Cover: This cover has a skyline of New York City, which is where the story takes place.  There is one building with two lights on so maybe that is supposed to symbolize Holland and Calvin living in the apartment, but Holland is in her room and Calvin is in the living room.  Also, in the title the two O's are actually wedding bands overlaying each other.

My Review: I'm not going to lie to you guys I was a little skeptical about reading this book.  Only because as much as I did enjoy Dating You/Hating You I didn't enjoy that as much as The Beautiful Series or the Wild Seasons and I was afraid that it wouldn't live up.  That being said, I ended up loving this book.  I enjoyed it more than Dating You/Hating You, but not as much as Beautiful Player or Sweet Filthy Boy  (because I could read about Will and Hanna or Ansel and Mia until the end of time - Maybe someday I'll do a post rating CLo books)
I really enjoyed Holland's character.  She agreed to marry Calvin selflessly to help him and to help her uncle.  In fact, at the beginning it seemed like not only did she not really gain from the situation, but she was actually putting herself out because now she had to open her home to a total stranger, even though she was the one who brought up the idea to him.  However, in the end, she does gain a lot from the experience because she learns so much about herself.  She and Calvin go through rough patches that any couple who jumps in head first could go through - ex-girlfriends being brought up or not kneeing exactly how long your partner knew about your existence - but they have the added stress of being legally married and having to convince the government that it isn't a hoax.  Through all of this Holland is finally able to take the front seat in her own life, she figures out who her true friends are and that taking risks doesn't mean losing who she is.  She needed to take the jump and fall a couple times in order to finally figure out what she wanted with her life.  It was also just cute and funny to watch two people go about their relationship in the opposite way most people do.
Also, I was very excited when Calvin gave Holland a nickname.  I absolutely love that all of the boys come up with nicknames for the girls in CLo's books.  It's almost like it's their 'thing' and I love seeing what they come up with.
The one criticism I had was that I needed one more chapter or epilogue.  I just felt like the story could have gone on a little bit longer, and I don't think I am alone in that thinking so hopefully there is a sequel or novella or even chapters posted on CLo's blog that will continue the story a little bit.  I hope if there is a novella it mirrors Beautiful Bitch in the way that there's a story going continuously throughout it, but there are also flashbacks that can fill in the gaps like how Holland explains everything to her family or if they have another wedding, so that we can get a couple short stories within the main story.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand | Book Review


Reading Group: Sensitive Topic of Suicide; High School+

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a gorgeous, heart-wrenching novel of love and loss, which ALA Booklist called "both shatteringly painful and bright with life and hope" in a starred review.


Since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn't told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
In the tradition of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, Gayle Forman's If I Stay, and Lauren Oliver's Before I FallThe Last Time We Say Goodbye is a thoughtful and deeply affecting novel that will change the way you look at life and death.

Cover: The cover of this book pays tribute to Ty's suicide post-it note that he left on his mirror for this mother.  It's a powerful statement given that the cover of this book is reminding us that you very rarely know if when you say goodbye to someone, it is the last time.

My Review: I purchased this book a while ago, but then I kept buying more books, and so I have just gotten around to reading it.  This book was great, sad, but great.  I liked it because it felt very real, which is probably because the author lost her brother to suicide and even though she does say that the work is fiction and she is not Lex, I think certain things are just common to happen when someone you know has killed themselves, or just died in general.  
For one, Lex separates herself from her friends.  She's not the girl she used to be, and so she struggles to act the way she used to.  Her friends don't push her to be her old self, but there's a divide that wasn't there before and Lex uses it as an excuse to distance herself.
On the other side of that, Lex does reconnect with Sadie, whose dad died a few years earlier and therefore can relate to Lex in a way that her other friends can't.  It shows that it's never too late to try to reconnect with someone from your past, even if it takes a tragedy to get you to do so.  
And then there is Damian, who used to be one of Ty's best friends, the only one in their group who hasn't killed himself.  However, being that High School can be rough for the best of us, Lex is afraid that Damian may also be at risk of attempting suicide, but accidentally sends the wrong message when she tries to reach out to him.
Although I love a good love story, as many of you know, I really appreciated that this story wasn't one.  Lex broke up with her boyfriend after Ty died, and I was happy to see that she didn't need him to get through her pain.  She came to terms with it on her own, and when she was ready she reached back out, and at the end, it seemed like they would get back together (which I was excited for).  
This story is a little bit of a mystery.  Not the "Who stole the pirate's treasure" or "It was a murder, not a suicide"mystery, but the kind that I'm sure a lot of people in a situation like Lex would understand.  She kept finding things that her brother left behind - the letter to Ashley and the empty picture frames - and had to decipher what Ty would have wanted her to do with the information.  Although Lex could guess what he wanted and I think she made the right choices when it came to these things, Ty was gone and there was no way to know if the choices Lex made were the ones he actually wanted.
Obviously this book contains sensitive subject matter, but I would definitely recommend you pick it up this winter break. 


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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Exploring Reykjavik and The Blue Lagoon | Iceland Nov. 22-26, 2017


On Saturday, we had no scheduled plans, so we all took the day to sleep in.  And we did.  When you wake up in Iceland this time of year and the sun is already up you know the day is half over.  We didn't get out of bed until around 11am, and we didn't get out of the house until after 1pm.


The first thing we did was head to the Viking Museum.  Iceland was founded by Vikings, and we thought it was important to learn more about how they managed to survive.  The museum was cool because it was a headset tour type with wax figures.  It took only a little over 30 minutes and afterward you got to dress up as a Viking.


There is a famous hot dog stand in Iceland.  I have no idea why it is famous, but we all got some hot dogs.  I personally don't like hot dogs, but I tried it, and I thought it was good.  I think someone said there was lamb or something in it, not just pig.


After that, we set a meeting spot by a Christmas tree and broke up to walk around the city.  A group of 12 is hard, so this was nice to all get to look around and go into stores without feeling like we were filling up the entire place.  I was able to buy some presents for the kids I babysit.  And we ended at a Micro Bar where we got a taster of 10 beers.  I am not a beer drinker, but my brother loves craft beers, so he was excited.
 

Reykjavik is a cool, little city and we saw murals on most of the buildings.  And this time of year it's getting ready for Christmas, so there are lights and garland everywhere.


For dinner that night some of us went and got fish while the rest of us went to a hamburger place.  Iceland is an island, which means that they mostly eat fish.  My family and I aren't huge on fish, so this was the first time I felt I had more than one choice from the menu.  It was also the first time we got portions that we were used to in America.


Sunday was our last day in Iceland, but before we went to the airport, we went to the Blue Lagoon, which is a natural hot spring and only about 15 minutes from the airport.


This was so cool!  Well, actually, it was really hot...(I'm sorry, but the joke was RIGHT there).  Once you're in the Blue Lagoon, you can swim over and get a drink at the bar and then swim over to the mud mask station.  We had a lot of fun there and did not want to leave.  It started snowing, which was also wicked cool because we were all in our bathing suits outside in a natural hot tub while it was less than 32 degrees.


Iceland was a fantastic trip.  Honestly, this was the first since I was little that I've been on a family vacation, even though two of my brothers opted to stay home.  It was a lot different from home but exciting.  Before we even left we were all talking about how fun it would be to go back in the summer.



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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Golden Circle Tour | Iceland Nov. 22-26, 2017


Day Two of our Iceland adventure involved waking up at 7am to have 12 people ready to leave the house before 9am.  We were picked up from our Airbnb by our The Golden Circle tour guide, Ian, who was fantastic.

Before I get into telling you everything we saw on our tour I just want to say that if you are planning to visit Iceland, I highly recommend this tour.  We saw so many things (as will you through my photos), and we didn't have to drive.  The weather in Iceland is a little unpredictable so having someone who actually knew the roads driving was fantastic.  At one point we couldn't even see out the front windshield because the snow was blowing so thick.


The first stop on our tour was to a small village with a population of about 2,000 people.  There we stopped at a small mall type place.  The reason we did this was that part of the floor of this building is clear, and when you look down, you can see both the European and North American tectonic plates.  Even if you're like me and science was never really your thing, this is cool.  You're standing on two continents at once!  Because this is the location of two tectonic plates scraping up against each other, the village it's in experiences earthquakes all the time.  Our tour guide said the recond is like 400 in one day, but they haven't had one that caused a whole lot of damage for a little while.  We didn't feel any during our time there, but I think it would have been pretty cool if we had.  Just a small one, of course.

Something fun I learned: In Iceland, it is commonly believed that fairies live in the rocks so as you're driving you can see fairy doors attached to them.  Also, because of this belief, when the roads were being built they were curved so that no rocks had to be moved and fairy homes disrupted.




You cannot go to Iceland and not see a waterfall.  This was Faxi, which was absolutely stunning.


From there, we went to Geysir and watched Strukkor do it's thing a couple times.  Watching a geyser erupt(?)...explode(?)...I don't know, but whatever the word, it's amazing to witness.  It's also so funny to stand huddled with a bunch of tourists, all of us with our phones up recording and waiting for the event to happen.



This second waterfall we saw, Gullfoss, was my favorite thing on the tour and possibly my favorite thing from the whole trip.  It's just a waterfall, all you do is look at it and maybe take a picture, but it is so pretty and just so prevalent.  For me, it really showed how powerful nature is.  And all the frozen parts of it were gorgeous, but it also confuses me in a way that I also have a lot of respect for as to how some moving water can freeze, but some don't.  I know I probably sound like a crazy person, but that is apparently what giant, beautiful waterfalls do to me.  


We were supposed to see a National Park on our Tour, but the weather in that area was bad, so the road was closed.  Instead, Ian let us stop to see some horses and again to get some ice cream. 


 Now, I was expecting giant horses to be in Iceland because all I could think was that the Vikings used horses to get around and whatever.  I was wrong.  Far from a Clydesdale were these guys.  But they were cute and really soft with their thick fur.  These ones were clearly very used to people and being fed by people, so they were nice, if not a little greedy.


We got homemade ice cream from a farm, so it was really good.  Mine was chocolate with candy pieces in it.  This was also a nice little stop to make before driving back to Reykjavik.


If you read my first Iceland post, you will know that we got lost trying to find the 'white house' that Raegan and Gorbachev met at to end the Cold War.  Well, trusty Ian brought us to it.  He turned a corner and said, "You may know a little something about this house..." and I just started laughing.  This house is located right at the Harbor, probably 20 minutes from where we had breakfast that first morning, not 45 minutes away, which is where we ended up.  Honestly, I was just glad my dad and his friend got to see it.

That night we went to a bar themed after the movie The Big Lebowski, so bowling memorabilia and movie quotes everywhere.
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Longest Day Ever | Iceland Nov. 22-26, 2017


This year for Thanksgiving Break, instead of heading home and filling myself with Turkey and mashed potatoes, a group of 12 of us decided to go on vacation.  This included me, one brother, my sister, my parents, a cousin, an aunt, my dad's friend, his wife and two kids, and his daughter's boyfriend.  We decided to go to Reykjavik, Iceland and we'd been planning this trip for about a year now.  It was an amazing experience and I really wanted to share it with all of you!  So the next couple posts of mine are all going to be Iceland related, which will also give me a chance to read and write some more book reviews.  School is way too busy this time of year.

I also used this trip as an excuse to practice with my GoPro Hero 5, but I didn't break it out until the second day of our trip.



We flew out of Logan International Airport in Boston on Wednesday evening and arrived in Iceland at about 6am.  The first issue we faced was that a seven-passenger car does not hold seven passengers and their luggage.  So instead of having two seven-passenger vehicles, we had to get a Ford Focus as well.  This car mostly sat in the driveway during our trip but was necessary for getting from and to the airport.  The airport is 45 minutes or so away from Rejkavik so after landing and organizing ourselves we decided to head that way and find something for breakfast.


After driving around for a little with no success, my dad finally pulled into an open auto-body place and asked somewhere where a good place to eat was.  That was when we learned that most things in Iceland don't open until at least 8am and even more not until 10am.  Our first culture shock.  The man was nice enough to have our three cars follow him to a bakery that he knew opened at 8am.  We ate pastries and hung out for a couple hours, waiting for the sun to rise (around 10:30am) and things to open.

So my dad is a HUGE Ronald Reagan fan, and low and behold, the house where Reagan and Gorbachev decided to end the Cold War is in Rejkavik, Iceland.  So we decided to try and find it.  Emphasis on the 'try.'  The GPS was not working very well and we ended up driving back towards the airport.  We called it quits and headed back to the city.

    

Once back in the city, we went to Hallgr√≠mskirkja, which is a Lutheran Parish opened in 1986.  It is the tallest church in Iceland and you can take an elevator up 8 stories to look out of the clock faces you can see in the photo.  You can then go up another flight of stairs and look out those arched windows.  Those don't have screens or glass or anything, so it was very cold and wicked windy.




After the church, we grabbed some lunch and then headed to our Airbnb early to see if we could at least drop our stuff off.  Thankfully the house was ready for us and we ended up lounging around for a couple hours before getting dinner. 

Wednesday and Thursday were combined to be probably one of the longest days of my life because I did not sleep on the plane so I was awake for about 30 hours I think.  However, the day was also so exciting that it didn't seem to matter.

And this was only day 1...
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