Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars - Book Review

I finished reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green last night. It caught my eye last year when it was first published and everyone was raving about it. Everyone. I bought it but didn't get a chance to read it. I got it on my neighborhood book club's reading list this year and was excited to finally get to read it this week.

First, I should add my own "Bravo!" to all the other reviews of The Fault In Our Stars (good luck finding a negative one). The writing is fabulous and honest. The characters are disarmingly real teenagers (though brilliant and introspective) and lovable. The story is moving and is bound to soften even the hardest heart. I read passages aloud to Utah Dad. I told him the entire story. I'd make him read it if he had time. I even suggested it to Neal (I'll leave that recommendation up to your parental judgement. There are some "older" themes in this YA novel but I think discussing them with my son would be beneficial and interesting.)

Hazel is a sixteen year old girl with terminal cancer who meets Augustus a handsome seventeen year old boy at the Cancer Support Group. It's a heart-wrenching love story. But even more than that, these two teenagers have been forced to look beyond basketball and shopping and their iPhones and are philosophical and eloquent. Their struggles and discussions about the meaning of life and what happens after life are very real concerns to them.

I couldn't stop thinking about Hazel and Gus after I finished the book last night. I know they're fictional but they're also very real. The book conjures up real feelings. Mixed with the feelings I've had lately as I've watched a friend suffer from her own cancer; the sorrow of two friends who have lost their mothers in the past weeks and another friend who is deeply concerned about a family member seriously injured in a car accident. My heart aches for them and their pain.

Coincidentally, I listened to Sister Elaine Dalton's conference talk from April 2013 General Conference last night. And there is was. Exactly what I want to tell Hazel and Gus. What I want to remind my friends who are suffering (because I know they know it but maybe need to remember it). Oh, I'd like to tell Miley about it too.

Color Me Rad 5K - Orem, Utah - Give-away!

I've been on social media enough to know two things :

1. People in Utah love to run.
2. People in Utah love to throw colorful chalk on each other.

So, what could be more fun for the lovely people of Utah than a chance to run and throw colorful chalk on each other?! I'm not a runner and even I think that the Color Me Rad 5K looks like fun.

Really. Look how much fun people have running in Color Me Rad.

The Color Me Rad 5K will be in Orem, Utah on September 28th. You want to run in this race. Right? I thought so. Read more about the race and whether the chalk is safe *here*.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Utah Valley University Scholarship Fund. That even makes you feel good.

What is even more exciting? 
You have a chance to win 2 free entries to 
Color Me Rad 5K in Orem, Utah.

Just enter by leaving a comment on this post. You can earn up to 2 extra entries by sharing this give-away contest on Facebook or Twitter. Just leave another comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Sunday, September 1st at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Monday, September 2nd.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Comfort of Lies - Book Review

Juliette's husband Nathan admitted to his affair with Tia and promised to end it. Juliette forgave him and worked to save her marriage. Five years later, Juliette finds a letter in her mailbox. It's addressed to Nathan from Tia. Juliette opens the mail and discovers pictures of a little girl--the baby that Tia gave up for adoption and fathered by Nathan.

Stories and lives unravel as Nathan's acts of betrayal come back to haunt them all--Tia, the young woman who fell in love with him and hoped to spend her life with him; his wife and sons, and Caroline and Peter the parents of Savannah.

Writing with skill, Meyers creates a wholly real yet haunting family drama in The Comfort of Lies. The characters are at once sympathetic and the next moment so completely foolish. Meyers examines fidelity and forgiveness, family and love in a thoughtful and introspective novel.

I've been reading The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers with the Book Lovers Unite Book Club this month. Check out Traveling with T to read the discussion of the novel.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pronto - Book Review

Utah Dad and I watch very little television. However, when we find a show that we like we pretty much devour it. Utah Dad's brother insisted that we watch Justified. Following Federal Marshal Raylan Givens, the show is set in Harlan, Kentucky. Since Utah Dad's mother grew up in Harlan, Kentucky and has some fabulous stories to tell, we "justify" our new addiction by claiming that watching it is like doing family history.

Earlier this summer I discovered that the show was based on novels by Elmore Leonard so I ordered three. I justified the purchase by telling myself that they were gifts for Utah Dad. Surely, he would love to read them. Because, you know, he has so much leisure time.

Then, last week Elmore Leonard passed away at the age of 87. As a tribute to him and to satisfy my cravings for the show while we wait for the fourth season to come out on DVD, I picked up the novel Pronto. (This was also a nice way to satisfy my "Conquering the Book Stacks" goal to read books off my shelf this month.)

Harry Arno, a Miami bookie, is set up by the feds in an attempt to get more information about Arno's mobster boss. Arno's been arrested but his life is in danger. He's being watched by Federal Marshal Raylan Givens but he gives Givens the slip and flees the country. Raylan goes after him, intent on keeping Arno safe and returning him to justice.

Pronto by Elmore Leonard is a wild ride from Miami to the countryside of Italy. Filled with fun mob characters and plenty of gun slinging action, Raylan Givens is introduced as the cowboy-hat wearing, slow talking, fast drawing Federal Marshal. 

Pronto was different from my normal reads but I enjoyed Leonard's writing style. Filled with action, genuine dialogue, and entertaining characters Pronto was a fun diversion. 

**There is a lot of swearing.**

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spotlighting Kelsy from Up in the Bibliosphere

For Utah Book Month, I am spotlighting Kelsy from Up in the Bibliosphere. Kelsey blogs regularly about the books she reads. She has already completed her Goodreads Challenge for the year. She's read 208 books. Wow! I'm impressed. She regularly hosts give-aways. Be sure to check read more about Kelsy and Up in the Bibliosphere.

My name is Kelsy, and I am the voice behind Up in the Bibliosphere. I am a twenty-something college student living happily in stranger-than-fiction Utah with my husband and six cats. My dream is to write books for a living (a dream that more or less began around the age of 6 when I wrote my first novel, a Sailor Moon/Pokemon crossover). I pay the bills by working through school as a laboratory technician. (You know, blood and pee and guts and stuff. All those gross things that people never think about when they consider medicine.)

My love for reading began in elementary school, and has been with me ever since. As such, I'm a regular at the library and spend way too much money on I mainly read young adult literature, but also enjoy titles and authors in the general fiction, fantasy, and classical literature genres. When I die, the first thing I am going to do it stalk Jane Austen until she promises to be my BFF.

When not reading or writing I can usually be found daydreaming, cooking, sleeping, spending time with friends and family, enjoying the creative and performing arts, and trying new things. The newest of the new things are tennis, sewing, and gluten free cooking.

My personal philosophy is simple: Learn, love and laugh as much as you can.

About The Bibliosphere

Up in the Bibliosphere was founded in January 2012 when I figured I may as well do something productive with the excess of books I read. Young adult literature is the main focus, but other genres will be explored periodically. I post on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and try my best to publish several reviews and interesting book-related content on each of these days. As this blog is still small and relatively obscure, giveaways and blog hop participation will be at my own discretion. As The Bibliosphere grows so, too, will the amount of giveaways. I also hold author/blogger/reader interviews, book news, weekly memes, and other such book goodness.

I contacted Kelsy and asked her what her favorite books have been so far in 2013. It looks like a fun list.

Parallel by Lauren Miller

Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of School (AKA The Return of My Sanity)

Yesterday was the first day of school. Four of my kids are now in school all day. Molly and I had the best day ever! It was so quiet. There was no fighting. I finished reading a book and washed a summer's worth of laundry (so it seemed). The kids had a great day at school and seeing their friends again. They are going to have a great year.

Lilly : 1st grade

Thomas : 2nd grade

Amberly : 5th grade

Neal : 8th grade

Top Ten Events of Summer 2013

We had a super busy and fun summer. While we enjoyed plenty of days of sleeping in, lounging in pajamas, and playing video games my goal was to keep the kids busy and away from electronics as much as possible during their vacation from school. Here's a quick glimpse of our summer.

In no particular order here is a list of our
 Top Ten Favorite Things in Summer 2013 :

1 & 2. Grandma & Grandpa's Farm in Vernal (twice)

We went to Vernal, Utah to visit my parents for a week in June. I wrote more about it *here*. We went a second time in July. We intended to stay for just a few days but when we tried to leave on Wednesday our minivan broke down and our visit was extended to a week while it got fixed.

Our favorite things we did in Vernal :

  • Ride horses, feed apples to horses, pet horses, see horses.
  • Play in the pond.
  • Play in the tree house, sandbox & on the swing.
  • Play with our cousins.
  • Go to the park.
  • Swim in the Green River and learn to pan for gold from Uncle Wes.
  • Pick raspberries and make lots of freezer jam.
  • Work on Family History.
  • Golf with Grandpa.
  • Visit the Western Heritage Museum.

3. Vacation in Yellowstone.

I wrote about our week in Yellowstone *here*.

4. Fireworks in North Salt Lake & the Kaysville 4th of July Parade

It's been our tradition for a few years to join some of my family to watch the fireworks from the golf course in North Salt Lake. We spend time visiting with cousins and aunts and uncles; snacking and playing bocce ball while we wait for it to get dark. It's a pretty good fireworks show too.

Afterward we stayed the night at my sister's house and then joined them for the Kaysville Parade. At the end of the parade it becomes a giant water fight. We've heard them talk about it for years and this was the first year we went too. We all had a great time and will definitely do it again.

On the evening of Independence Day, our neighborhood also had an awesome block party. We had a rockin' DJ, lots of treats and everyone pooled their resources to put on a pretty impressive fireworks show.

5. Neal, Amberly and Thomas individual time in Vernal

Each of the oldest three kids got to spend time in Vernal. Thomas went with four of his boy cousins for a few days in June. Neal went with his cousin Jackson for several days in July and then Amberly went with two of her cousins for a few days afterward.

Neal and Jackson got to go on a 10 mile horse ride and camp in the High Uintahs. They went golfing and fishing. The other kids rode horses, went fishing, did some cooking and projects to help their grandparents around the farm.

Neal and Amberly (who overlapped their visit by one day) also got to go the Dinosaur Round up Rodeo with their cousins.

6. Snowbird

Everyone knows Snowbird Ski Resort is fun in the winter but it is also a lot of fun in the summer and getting more fun all the time. Wanting to escape the heat in the valley, we went with cousins in July to ride the tram to the top of the summit. It was much cooler.

7. Mormon Tabernacle Choir Pioneer Day Concert

Utah Dad and I took Neal and Amberly to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Pioneer Day Concert. The guest performers were Nathan Pacheco and Lindsey Sterling. I could listen to Nathan all the time. What a voice! The concert was wonderful. Afterward, we had dinner and Italian Sodas at the Blue Lemon downtown. Delicious.

You can watch the concert *here*.

8. Star Valley, Wyoming

My grandma, affectionately known as PomPom, is celebrating her 90th year. Her party was near her home in Star Valley, Wyoming. My sister arranged for us to stay at their friend's cabin in Star Valley Ranch. The kids and I joined my sister and her family and my parents at the cabin on Tuesday that week. During the week we were joined by my brothers and their families and eventually Utah Dad met up with us. By the end of the week we had 36 people at the cabin. It was awesome.

The kids LOVED the swing set next to the cabin. They built huts and went exploring in the woods.

The cabin was on the golf course so we played LOTS of golf. The guys played at least 2 rounds a day. Each evening we would practice driving and putting with the kids.

We drove to Jackson Hole for the day. 
We loved the beautiful views.

We hiked up the canyon named after our family. My great, great grandparents emigrated from Switzerland and settled in Freedom, Wyoming in Upper Star Valley after they joined the LDS church. Their farm is so beautiful. We also went to the cemetery where so many of my ancestors are buried.

Star Valley is not supposed to be hot but it was this week. After our hike, Grandpa treated us all to ice cream.

We also hiked to the Intermittent Springs or Periodic Springs. It's a natural spring that stops and starts. It's really very cool and worth the treacherous hike. 
Thomas kept saying "This is totally unsafe! They need some railings!" 

We went on a scavenger hunt around Fairview, Wyoming to learn more about the life of PomPom. We also joined our cousins and step-cousins at the celebration for PomPom. (I'm still waiting on pictures from the event)

Star Valley is so beautiful. It's one of my very favorite places.

Every evening at the cabin, we played games such as 
"Around the World Ping Pong", The Cheese Touch and 99. 
Crazy, good times!

9. "Secret Days" with Gramps & Mamau

Amberly and Lucy and then Neal and Russell each spent three days with their Gramps and Mamau having "Secret Days". They went to Snowbird and did all the activities including climbing the rock wall and jumping on the trampolines. They went to the Clark Planetarium and ate out at Red Lobster and Chuck-a-Rama.

10. The Ward Camp Out

Last weekend, we joined friends from our ward at a Camp Out in Hobble Creek Canyon. We haven't been camping as a family for years (I don't really enjoy camping with babies) but the kids are all getting bigger. We roasted Starburst candies, visited with friends and enjoyed delicious Dutch Oven desserts. I didn't particularly enjoy sleeping on the ground, but the kids voted that it was definitely one of their favorite events of the summer.

Also Notable Events this Summer:

  • Neal celebrated his 12th birthday and was ordained a deacon.
  • Utah Dad called to be the Second Counselor in the ward Bishopric.
  • Attended the Logan Temple with friends and their son and daughter who are leaving on missions.

  • Lilly's 6th birthday

  • Picnic in Big Cottonwood Canyon with Utah Dad's family.

  • Utah Dad had meetings for work and was gone for a week--getting to know his "virtual co-workers" in real life.
  • I had dinner with my best friends from college.

  • Utah Dad and I went to the Bishopric night for the Young Women's Girls Camp.
  • Went to Logan for the baby blessing of our newest niece Audrey.
  • I got a new calling as the Family History Leader in my ward. (Still trying to learn what to do.)
  • I spent a day making chili at the LDS Cannery.
  • We celebrated my uncle's 70th birthday and visited with cousins at a Grangroth Family Reunion.
  • I attended a blogger luncheon with Mrs. Herbert the First Lady of Utah. I'll tell you more about that soon.
  • We got funky at a Ward Dance. We still think we've got it.
  • Utah Dad and I have been able to go to the temple a few times.
  • We swam at the Legacy Center.
  • Had friends over.
  • BBQs with neighbors and friends.
  • We went to the Bee's Baseball Game. Read about it *here*. 
The Not-So-Fun Part of the Summer :

1. I ended up in the emergency room with kidney stones. I spent too many days in pain and/or sleeping off the effects of the pain killers. Molly took a picture of me sleeping one day.

2. Our car died. Repairs needed. $

3. Utah Dad was really busy this summer. Between his new calling, work and school work (he's nearly finished with his MBA) he didn't get to play with us as much as he would like.

4. Our garden is a beautiful crop of weeds.

The summer of 2013 is definitely one to remember!!!