Lock and Key Book Review

Since I became a member of the blogging world, I have seen many bloggers talk about Sarah Dessen. Many have explained her as their favorite author, go-to books, and author of books you can’t put down. Clearly, I needed to see what all of the hype was about. It was a good time for me to figure it out since my summer vacation from college started a few weeks ago, which means reading time! I ordered Lock and Key on Amazon a few weeks ago for about $4.00. I love good deals on books (read about my huge haul here). I was in the middle of a few other books when I received it in the mail, so I figured I would save it for my vacation. I read the book in a couple of days, mostly while sitting on the beautiful Delaware beach, and I am excited to talk about it!

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*Spoiler Alert: I will definitely talk about the ins and outs of this amazing novel. If you plan on reading the book and don’t want to ruin any of the details, stop reading now. Read it as soon as you get the chance!

The first couple of chapters were a little slow for me honestly. The book opens up with the main character Ruby, a 17 year-old girl, moving in with her sister Cora. You learn that Ruby and Cora have been out of contact for 10 years, since Cora turned 18 years-old and moved out for college. Up until this point, it was just Ruby and her mom. Her mom drank and smoked weed a lot, held low level jobs, and provided minimal care for Ruby. In Ruby’s eyes, they only had each other. One day, her mom disappeared and never came back. Eventually, Ruby and her mom’s landlords, the Honeycutts, found out that Ruby was living by herself. Luckily, they reported the situation. Sitting there, listening to the social workers explain the situation to Cora, Ruby reaches up and touches something around her neck. A key. A key that is important to Ruby, but also symbolizes something else. Her trust. After the forced move, Ruby’s whole life changes drastically, in more ways than she could ever imagine.

Cora and her husband Jamie were very wealthy, young people who lived in a beautiful house, in an upscale neighborhood. Completely different from the various apartments and little yellow house that Ruby was used to. This new life warranted a new, fancy private school, money for expensive cloths, options to attend college after graduation, and even an attractive neighbor. With all of these changes, one thing stayed constant. The key. It was always right around Ruby’s neck, close to her. Ruby’s attitude was less than welcoming to the idea of her new life. Heading into this transition, Ruby believed she was the only “messed up” person in the world. She carried a lot of baggage and knew it, but she didn’t know that other people carried baggage as well. That is, until she got to know Nate Cross.

Throughout the novel, Ruby’s attitude changes drastically. Ruby, like her mom, drank and smoked weed a lot, didn’t care too much about school, and did not let herself get too close to anybody. At some point, the truth about their mother finally came out. Cora informs Ruby that their mother kept her away from her in every way possible. This explained the various moves that the two had made as well as the wedding invitation that their mother said must have been sent automatically. Ruby’s mom was terrified of Ruby leaving her, just like everyone else had. In the end, she did exactly what she didn’t want Ruby to do to her. She left Ruby by herself. When Ruby’s mother left, she left behind one thing, a very broken daughter who believed so many lies. The one person who Ruby thought she could trust, betrayed her.

With the help of Cora and Jamie, Ruby picked up her grades, changes her attitude, met new friends, learned about herself, and even got accepted to college. She started taking the time to get to know people, and even opened up to her new family and new friends. She became compassionate and caring, and she wanted to help people lead better lives, including herself. Before graduation, Ruby does something unimaginable, she throws her key into the backyard pond. She completely opened herself up to her new life, and put her old life behind her. Some things that are broken can be fixed with a little hard work and determination.

Of course, if you really want to understand how amazing this book is, read it. I promise you will not be able to put it down. I am so excited to read more books from Sarah Dessen!

Sunday’s Taste of Euphoria (#9)

In the real world, today is Sunday. For me, it is just another day because I am on vacation. I try to lose track of the days, hoping that the time in paradise will never come to an end. Last week, I worked a lot. As always, I found happiness, but it mostly occurred at the end of the week when my vacation finally started!

ONE// Friday, we made the trip to our beach house in Delaware. After hitting a little traffic, we made it, unpacked the car, ate some food, and started relaxing.

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TWO// Saturday was our first beach day. I expected it to be a little too chilly for a bathing suit, but I was wrong! I regretted not wearing it, but either way, it was a beautiful day. I sat my but in my beach chair and stayed there all day.

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THREE// After my little sister made a great dinner for everyone, we all headed down to the boardwalk. My brother and I got our first legal drink together! Well, maybe a few.

 

Next Sunday you are going to hear all about my week in paradise, so be prepared to be jealous.

Behind the Scenes

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Last week I was tagged by Jenna at Big Dreams Grand Schemes in a blog post that explains her writing process. The purpose of this post is to share your individual writing process and tag three people at the end, creating a chain. I think this is so cool! It is always great to learn from one another, and this is a simple thing to explain to others. Here are the four questions that I have to answer:

  1. What am I working on?
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  3. Why do I write what I do?
  4. How does my writing process work?

The three bloggers I would like to tag in this train are:

  1. Emily at Class and Sass
  2. Nasya at Turquoise and Tortoiseshells
  3. Megan at The Artistic Brunette

Without further ado, here are my answers to the four questions!

1. What am I working on?

At this point of my blogging career, I am basically all over the place. In an attempt to become a little more organized, I started a calendar for my blog, but I don’t follow it to the tee yet. It is hard for me to plan what I am going to want to post sometimes, because a lot of my posts are random stories or ideas that I come up with. I constantly write down random things. Sometimes they turn into a story, list, or any other blog post, and sometimes they get saved in the “Blog” folder on my computer and stay there. My hope for the summer is to get my blog more organized and finish some of my unfinished posts so I can share them. That is what I’m working on right now.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a tough question for me because I don’t really have a genre. I write and post whatever I want, whenever I want. The only “genre” I believe I fit into is Lifestyle or College (does that count?). My blog was created as an outlet, so I post whatever makes me happy. If I make other people happy along the way, well then I am even happier.

3. Why do I write what I do?

The main purpose of my writing is to escape. It has become a stress relief for me. I enter into my little bubble and roll with it. Therefore, I write things that interest me. Whether it be a story from my crazy life as a college student, my favorite Netflix shows at the moment, or an exciting purchase that I make, each post was a tool for me.

4. How does my writing process work?

First, I have an idea. Let me tell you, I have approximately fifty ideas a day and clearly, I do not post that much. A lot of my ideas are silly and short lived. Some of my ideas are for books that I dream about writing one day. Finally, some of my ideas become blog posts.

Once I decide I want to elaborate on an idea, I write. It’s as simple as that. I write, delete, and rewrite way too much, but I write. Also, I research. I read articles about various topics, books, short stories, other bloggers posts, etc. As an inspiring scientist, I am a firm believer that research and practice pave the way to improvement. Hopefully it is working!

Thanks for including me in this train! I am excited to read more posts from the tags!

Top Played Glee Songs

As some of you may or may not know, I have recently become a Glee addict. I binge watched the first four seasons on Netflix this past semester, which I mentioned here, but I have not been able to start watching season five yet. Although I love Glee for so much more than the music, I wanted to share some of the Glee songs I play on repeat with no shame. For any non-Glee addicts, I want to explain a little further. Glee has done many musical covers as well as various artist covers. Every episode has a theme. Therefore, picking my “favorite songs” would be impossible. This list is just the songs that I probably play the most for various reasons.

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Defying Gravity– Kurt Hummel and Rachel Berry

Loser Like Me (Original Composition)- New Directions

Americano/Dance Again– Cassandra July with NYADA students

Get it Right (Original Composition)- Rachel Berry with Brittany Pierce, Tine Cohen-Chang and New Directions Females

Can’t Fight This Feeling– Finn Hudson

Teenage Dream– Dalton Academy Warblers

For Good– Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel

Here’s To Us– Rachel Berry with New Directions

Jump– New Directions

Marry You– New Directions

 

Do you have any favorite Glee songs that you listen to an unhealthy amount of times?

Sunday’s Taste of Euphoria (#8)

This is my (mostly) weekly post looking back on the past week and the things I enjoyed. As an overbooked college student, running around like a chicken with my head cut off everyday, I wanted to reflect on the things that make me happy. I think it is so important to take a moment and realize that no matter how stressful and crazy your week was, at least one thing had to make you happy. So that is where “Sunday’s Taste of Euphoria” came from. I thought I would share my happy things and maybe other people would start to reflect on their happy things.

 

ONE// Monday I got to work with my dad for the first time this summer. My family owns housing for college students so every summer, I help clean everything up, cut the lawns, and paint. Lots of painting. I love working with my dad though. I always learn something new.

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My sisters and I after dinner

TWO// Thursday was my little sister’s 19th birthday. The whole family went out to Hibachi for dinner, a typical birthday dinner, which was amazing. Seriously the best dinner ever.

THREE// I went out for drinks with my bestfriend after dinner on Thursday. This is the first time I’ve seen her since winter break. We ended up leaving the restaurant we went to because another friend was having a rough night, but at least we all got to hangout!

THREE// My step step grandparents had us over for dinner on Friday. These are the little things you appreciate about being home.

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My godmother and I at the party

FOUR// Saturday was my Godmother’s 60th birthday and retirement party. It was nice to see a lot of people as well as eat all of the great food! Most importantly, it was great to see my godmother so happy, she deserves it!

Local Library Book Sale Haul

Today, my local library had a book sale. These sales are held a few times a year, but I haven’t been able to get to one in a pretty long time. Paperback books are 50 cents and hardcover books are one dollar. Typically, I buy my books on Amazon for five to ten dollars. I could get ten books for the price of one at this sale. Amazing, right? I could spend hours there looking through books. Today I came out with a pretty great haul, so I wanted to share it!

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Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler

The word Tuscany stood out to me when I was browsing books. I hope to travel through Europe some day because I am in love with so many parts of it, so a book based in Italy sounded great. Also, Elizabeth Adler is an author I have never explored before. Hopefully this will lead me to read more of her books.

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

I was excited to see this book on the shelf because I have heard about this book many times. Being a horse person, this book is pretty popular among some of my friends. People who have these abilities with animals are breathtaking to me, so I am sure this will be a great read.

The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell

I have never heard of this book or this author before, but it seemed like my style. I think it will be an easy and fun read.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

If you haven’t heard of the racehorse, Seabiscuit, look him up. I am really excited to read his sotry.

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

This book has been on my Amazon Wish List for about a year now. I saw it a Barnes and Nobles when I was browsing one day. I was immediately interested in exploring Lauren Barnholdt’s. Seeing this book on the rack was a shock and I had to grab it!

Quick and Healthy Low Fat Cooking

Since my roommate and I need to learn how to cook, I figured we could start with a healthy cookbook.

 

The total price tag for my book haul: $4.00

 

“14 Things for the Next 14 Months” Follow-Up

On March 16th I posted a list of fourteen things I wanted to do before I graduated college (fourteen months left at that time). You can read that list here. Now, two months later, I am twelve months away from graduation and I wanted to share the things that I have started or completed on my list.

14 Things 2 months

1. Summer 2014 Internship (In Progress)

After applying to approximately 14 internships (yes that number doubled since the original post because I found more) I am doing an internship close to my school at a wildlife rehabilitation and care center. I applied to internships all over the country that would have been amazing. I was denied for a few and never heard back from some others. I learned that this process is tedious and stressful. Although I did not get some of the really cool internships I found, I am so excited to work with the orphaned wildlife at the center I decided on. Don’t worry, I will write about my experiences and post a lot of pictures!

2. Sign a Lease (Completed)

My bestfriend and I signed a lease for our apartment a few days before May 1st. We have been talking about getting an apartment together since our freshman year and we are more than excited that the time has finally come!

3. Learn to Cook (In Progress)

Slowly but surely I will learn to cook. This is going to take me all year because clearly, you can’t learn over night. I can say that I have been taking the initiative to learn from others recently, so that is the first step in the right direction.

4. Read More (In Progress/Complete)

I wasn’t sure if this was in progress or complete because I have been making way more time to read, but I am also going to try to continue to do so. Especially that it is officially summer, I am really making an effort to make any amount of time each day to read a little.

5. Write More (In Progress)

I have definitely been trying to write and/or post more! I have started using a calendar to plan my posts for this blog. More importantly, I have been trying to gather ideas that pop into my head. Hopefully they will turn into some good posts, stories, books, etc.

6. Win My First Election (Completed)

I ran for Senior Class President 2014-2015 and I won!!! I can’t believe it. I am so unbelievably grateful for this opportunity.

7. Volunteer

I used to volunteer occasionally at various horse farms and animal shelters. Helping animals is the most rewarding experience (obviously considering that is what I plan to devote my life to). I want to make time to do this again.

8. Improve My Horseback Riding (In Progress)

This will continuously be on my list. Most likely for the rest of my life. You can never be too good at your sport.

9. Continue Getting In Shape (In Progress)

I think this is the one I am most proud of. For the most part, I have stuck with this! The last few weeks of the semester were crazy so getting to the gym as much as I wanted to was basically impossible. Now that it is summer, I have been making it to the gym almost everyday. I love it.

10. Pay Off My Car

This is self-explanatory. I traded in my first car, a 2004 Jeep Liberty, to get a 2012 Chevy Cruze. Being a semi-environmental freak, I wanted a car with better gas mileage, especially since I drive back and forth to school. I love my car, but I am over the payments so I want my loan to be paid off by graduation.

11. Save Money

Again, this is self-explanatory. Currently, all of my money goes to my car and basically useless stuff (food, gas, alcohol, etc.). I really want to start building up some savings again.

12. Stop Being Late to Everything

I am constantly running in every direction. As much as I try to be a “professional”, I am late for everything. Literally everything. This needs to change before I have to grow up and get a real job. What better time to improve on something than the present?

13. Graduate With Honors

I guess this is self-explanatory. I like getting good grades and having a good GPA so I want to maintain that and graduate with honors. *Nerd Alert*

14. Have Fun (In Progress)

Save the best for last. I consider myself a hard worker, others say too hard, and I really don’t leave enough “me time”. As cliché as it sounds, I want to have an unforgettable senior year surrounded by my bestfriends that have been by my side since the beginning of college.

The results are in. After the first two months I have completed two things on my list and started seven. Not too shabby considering I still have twelve months to go! Follow along, I will continue to post updates for this list until graduation!

National Women’s Health Week

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For those of you who don’t know, this week is National Women’s Health Week. I think it is interesting to look up special days, weeks, or months like this that everybody doesn’t necessarily know about. I was happy to stumble upon this yesterday for many reasons. For starters,I love that I am a woman, I love embracing other women, and I am an up-and-coming “healthy living” person. Here is my path, which I am still at the start of, to being a healthier woman.

Two years ago, you would have never seen me in a gym. If, and I mean IF, I was in a gym, it is likely that I was not having a great time. I guess this makes sense. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and there were no consequences. I participated in the sports I enjoyed and that was all I cared about. Now that I have entered into my twenties, this isn’t the case. Last year I started going to the gym on and off with some friends, but it eventually phased out. Once school let out, I got back into it throughout the summer, but still nothing crazy or consistent. In October 2013, I started going to the gym and realized how great I felt after. Slowly this evolved into a slight addiction and I love it. I have found that getting into shape and being healthy is easier and more fun with the support and motivation from others. I think that telling your story may only be significant to one person, and that makes it important.

Eating healthy is something I am still working on. I still like to eat what I want when I want, but I think about eating balanced meals now. There is a good chance that I will never stop eating junk food. I love junk food and that’s that.

National Women’s Health Week is about motivation. Specifically motivating woman to eat healthy, exercise, pay attention to their mental health, and get regular check ups. All of these things are important. Pass this simple information along to any family member or friend and be there for one another. Take the pledge here.


Embrace your gender. Embrace yourself. Embrace your health.

Sunday’s Taste of Euphoria (#7)

This past week was crazy to say the least. Finals week. Enough said. There were so many good times and a lot of sad goodbyes, but it is now officially summer!

 

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ONE// On Sunday, my residents and I got together for the last time (at least for this year). We made shirts that said “May House Monsters” on them, played a game of kickball, went to dinner together, and just hungout. I literally cannot put into words how much this groups of individuals mean to me. They made my second and final year as an RA unforgettable and now I have so many new amazing friends.

TWO// Wednesday officially ended my junior year of college. WOW. It was great to finally relax after two and a half weeks of exams, papers, and finals.

THREE// Wednesday night I got to spend time with a group of friends. It was a bittersweet night. We had so much fun, but it was the last time we got to spend time together before saying goodbye for the summer.

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FOUR// Saturday I made my trip home. I can’t believe my junior year is over. Time to cuddle with my dog, workout, read, and do whatever I want to do. Finally.

 

Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful moms out there!

Senior Status?

Today I made the four hour trip from my college in Massachusetts to my hometown in Pennsylvania. Usually this trip is simple. I have done it over 20 times throughout the past three years. This trip wasn’t so great today considering I was in the hospital yesterday afternoon, getting fluids… Yay for being dehydrated at the end of finals week!

Anyways, I am home for summer. The last summer as a undergraduate student. My junior year is over. How does this happen? Where does time go?

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The Last Selfie as a College Junior

Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited for it to be summer. I could go on forever about the books I am going to read, how much time I am going to spend with my dog, being able to go to the gym every day, etc., but that is not what I want to talk about right now.

Junior Year Recap (as far as school stuff goes): My fall semester classes included Physics 1, Biochemistry, Environmental Science 1, and US History. Besides being a full time student, I worked as a Resident Assistant in a freshman house, peer tutor, and shuttle driver. I was apart of various clubs and rode for my college’s IHSA Equestrian team. This past semester my classes were Physics 2, Equine Nutrition, Equine Care, and Cell Biology. Also, I picked up a position as an office assistant in the campus activities office. This looks crazy after I see it all written down, but I survived somehow!

So, now that this year as come to an end, I would like to admit that I am scared. I am scared to be a senior because it means the end is coming. I have had an amazing three years at my college and I am not ready for it to end. I love all of the jobs I have had, the people I have met, and the friends I have made. Besides the fear of leaving my school, I also do not have a plan yet. I have a million ideas of things I want to do after I graduate college, but nothing is set in stone. I could apply for Master’s programs in Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation or Equine Nutrition, or I could move down south an work at a horse farm, or I could get a job in research. Literally, the possibilities are endless. Of course most undergraduate students have these worries, but when it is you, it really blows. I feel like I can’t shake this feeling. I am constantly thinking of scenarios that might happen after graduation, but I still haven’t determined a plan.

I guess for now all I can do is go with the flow, relax, and enjoy summer.