Three Book Reviews

Remember way back in January when I set
a goal to read 5 different books: A Mystery, 
a Classic, a book for "Young Readers", 
a Self-Help, and an Award Winning book?

Well its ok if you don't remember because 
 I almost forgot about my my own goal! 

But I'm happy to say I've read 3 out of the 5 on my 
list and still have a quarter of the year left to go.

So here is a review of the three I've read so far:

Image from Amazon

Catcher in the Rye - A Classic:
I started and restarted this book three times. It's written in first person from the perspective of the main character, whose name is Holden.
I had such a hard time with the narrative (and the book) because it took me a while to figure out if I liked Holden as a person or not. 
About half way through the book though, he started to tug at my heart stings and I couldn't help but hope the best for him. 
This is one of my favorite parts of the novel: 
"It was raining like hell and we were out on her porch, and all of a sudden this booze hound her mother was married to came out on the porch and asked Jane if there were any cigarettes in the house. He had a lousy personality. Anyway, old Jane wouldn't answer him when he asked her if she knew where there was any cigarettes. So the guy asked her again, but she still wouldn't answer him. She didn't even look up from the game. Finally the guy went inside the house. When he did, I asked Jane what the hell was going on. She wouldn't even answer me, then. She made out like she was concentrating on her next move in the game and all. Then all of a sudden, this tear plopped down on the checkerboard. I don't know why, but it bothered hell out of me. So what I did was, I went over and made her move over on the glider so that I could sit down next to her – I practically sat down in her lap, as a matter of fact. Then she really started to cry, and the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over—anywhere—her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears—her whole face except her mouth and all. She sort of wouldn't let me get to her mouth. Anyway, it was the closest we ever got to necking. I asked her if Mr. Cudahy – that was the booze hound's name – had ever tried to get wise with her. She was pretty young, but she had this terrific figure, and I wouldn't've put it past that Cudahy bastard. She said no, though. I never did find out what the hell was the matter. Some girls you practically never find out what's the matter." 


Image from Amazon

We Were Liars  - A Mystery: 
This was also written in first person through the eyes (and unreliable mind) of Cadence Sinclair Eastman. 
I have never read anything like this before. The style of this book was completely foreign to me. It's poetic, beautiful, and tragic all at once. It really pulled me in and I soaked up all the artistic imagery, while at the same time falling in love with the story. 
But when I got to the end and the mystery was revealed, I was so crushed that I literally could not talk to anyone about it for three days. I threw the book in a drawer and still haven't touched it, and now I can't even decided if I like the book or not.
There are so many quotable lines in this novel - it's hard to pick a favorite! I like this one though: 
"We looked at the sky. So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed." 


from: The Tip Toe

All the Light We Cannot See - An Award Winner: 
After finishing this book I could not stop thinking about it! For two weeks it was all I wanted to talk about. 
The story is told in a nonlinear fashion, which at first I found slightly annoying, but as the story progressed I was amazed that the author could spin together such an amazing story this way. The nonlinear form created the most dramatic and emotional effect. The story had me quickly turning pages from the very beginning, but it took a while for me to get attached to the characters - I'm not exactly sure why. Mostly, I just felt like I was watching them from a distance, but towards the beginning of the end I realized I was hooked. 
There is so much beautiful language throughout this novel, it's hard to pick a favorite quote so here's two: 
"To men like that. time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it's a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop."
"Don't you want to be alive before you die?"  


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? 
I'd love to hear from you - even if you have 
a different opinion than mine! 

Have you read anything that you've fallen in love with lately? 

El Habanero Mexican Restaurant

Its has been awhile sense I've done a restaurant review.
I only spotlight local restaurants and diners. It's always a special occasion when we get to eat out and it's seems to make the experience even more special when you know the food you're enjoying can't be duplicated anywhere else. 
This review is on one of our local favorites:

If you like Mexican food, then you gotta eat at the El Habanero.

Don't judge a book by it's cover - or a restaurant by it's size. 
Even though this place is small, they serve up 
large portions full of amazing flavor.  

25th Birthday + 25 Random Acts of Kindness

Ever since I turned twenty I've had a 
really hard time with my birthday. 
I know. People tell me I'm crazy (maybe I am) 
and that I should NOT be feeling sad about 
my birthday because I'm still young.  

Maybe they are right - but it still doesn't help. 
Each year when my birthday came around 
I would spend the majority of the day feeling really down. 

This year, I knew I had to do something different. 

I had read about people doing Random Acts of Kindness 
on their birthday and I really liked the idea because 
I felt like it would be the perfect thing to distract me 
from dwelling on the fact that I'm another year older.

Plus, if in the process of celebrating my birthday, 
I could help other people have a better day 
then it's a win-win for everyone. 

I asked, my twin sister, Chantel if she'd like to celebrate 
our birthday together doing Random Acts of Kindness, and together we came up with this list of 25 acts - one for each year we've been alive. 

Photo credit: heather a. stillufsen 

Free Acts of Kindness: 
1. Compliment a stranger. 
2. Collect all the shopping carts in a parking lot. 
3. Let people go in front of you at a checkout stand.
4. Write inspirational quotes with chalk on the sidewalk
5. Hold the door open for someone. 
6. Write kind words on sticky notes and leave them on a public bathroom mirror
7. Tell a Random parent that you think they are doing a good job with their kids.
8. Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people.
9. Write your husband a list of things you love about him.

2015 Summer Camping

We did a lot of camping this summer so I'm just going to lump 
all our camping adventures together in one big post.

 American Fork Canyon - July 17

We headed up the American Fork Canyon Friday night after work. 
We were supposed to leave around 6pm but of course we didn't leave until 8pm.
We had planned on camping at the Salamander Flat Campground which is first come first serve, 
plus it's free to camp there. So we knew it would fill-up fast. 

As we got there we realized the site was completely full, and now the sun was setting and night was falling fast. Completely disappointed and not sure what to do next we lingered 
by our vehicles trying to figure out where we should go. 

Just then we realized an older couple with a camp trailer was packing up the last of their belongings. We asked them if they were leaving and they said they were and that we could take their spot.

We seriously lucked out! 

There is a ridge lookout just up the hill from the campsite, 
and the next night we caught the most beautiful sunset. 



Bear Lake- August 1

This camping trip was the yearly Groberg Campout. 
We went to Bear Lake and camped on the Idaho side.
 Unfortunately, we didn't have a motorized boat, but John had borrowed two of
 the pontoon boats from his brothers, so we still had a lot of fun out in the water.  

On Sunday we drove up to see the Minnetonka Cave.  
We got there right when they opened so we ended up being the ones there. 
It was really fun, because it made it felt like a private tour. 

         This is the first major stairway in the cave. There are 896 total stairs in the cave. (round trip)
We also saw a few bats flying around, which I wasn't excited about, 
but overall it was a super fun experience!

And of course, we caught another gorgeous sunset on the lake. 
I really wanted to have a fire on the beach, but it would have been difficult for 
some members of J.R.'s family, so we'll have to try that another time. 

Mirror Lake Highway - August 13

This was the camping trip J.R. and went on by ourselves. 
We wanted to try and redeem ourselves from the last years camping trip
 when we tried to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. 
(You can read about last year's experience in the post called: Moonlight Camping

We headed back to the mirror lake highway to try and see this year's display of shooting stars. 
We hadn't made reservations or planned out exactly where we wanted to camp. Plus, neither one of us had ever driven the entire Mirror Lake Highway or even been to the actual Mirror Lake -  
which definitely made this trip feel more like an adventure. 

We eventually decided to stay at the Moosehorn Campground at site #4.
 And even though it was one of the only sites not reserved or taken, it was still a really good site. 

We loved everything about Moosehorn. There is a beautiful large pond and because the elevation is so high, the temperature stayed cool all day. 

We were worried about not being able to see the shooting stars because of the cloud cover, 
but around 10 pm the clouds cleared and we had the most spectacular view of the milky way.
We counted over 15 meteors, and didn't even stay up to see the peak hours. 
We were both so tired that we went to bed around midnight. 
Everything about it was absolutely perfect though. 

Not gonna lie, it took a few hours to get used to the elevation change. 
There was a point when we were setting up camp that we both 
started feeling light headed and dizzy, I never thought I'd 
get elevation sickness but it happened. haha

The next day we went to the Provo River Falls and explored some
 of the lookouts and cliffs around Bald Mountain Pass. 

Then we drove about two minutes from our campground to Mirror Lake. 
You guys - the pictures do not do it justice. This place is beautiful. 

There is a trail that goes all the way around the lake. 
It took us less than an hour and it's flat most of the way.  
As we walked around the lake, we counted six or seven people who caught a fish as we walked by. 
I don't know if we're good luck charms or if the fishing is just that amazing here. 

We can't wait to come back to this area. 
As we were leaving J.R. said, "Next to our honeymoon and our vacation to 
Disneyland, I think this is one of the best trips we've ever done together." 

Hot Time

July 7th 2015

Mom sent me a text at around 5:00 am that read, "Our barn burnt down last night but we're ok."
I sat up in bed, squinting my eyes as they adjusted to the back light of my phone, and read the text three more times.  My sleepy mind unsure if I was awake.

Our barn? Our barn burnt down?
With a pounding heart I called mom.
Her voice seemed tired but I could hear an edge of adrenaline.
"Yes. We're Ok. Yes. Penny is fine. Yes. The house and the neighbors property are fine.
Four alarm fire, four fire trucks. We're lucky it wasn't worse. Heavenly Father was really watching out for us."

Deep breaths.

 "No. I don't think you need to call into work. We're ok"  

I can tell when she's lying.
I pulled into their driveway an hour later. 
The smell of fire and ash thick in the air. 

It really did burn down.

Smoke was still rising from the pile of charcoal, so mom placed a 
sprinkler on it to help prevent any new flames from jumping back to life. 

The barn that burnt was where we normally kept our cows. We had placed sawdust in the barn as bedding which only fed the fire as it ripped through the structure. 

We were all grateful that at we hadn't purchased any cows this year, or
we would have lost them in a devastating way.  

In the picture below, the fence on the right is the
property line between our property and our neighbors.
We're still not sure how the fire didn't jump the fence, but we're all grateful it didn't.

Our family will forever be grateful to everyone who helped us this day. Everyone from the excited firefighters, to the random stranger, to all of our family and friends who took the time to help us dig out the smoldering floor of the barn.

There were so many miracles that took place and we all believe that Heavenly Father was looking over us, our neighbors, and the animals.