Book Review: Always Never Yours

Always Never Yours book review

The cover has some To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before vibes which threw me off a bit at first. But Megan is very different from Lara Jean so I stopped comparing them right away.

What I Loved:

» Megan embraces her high school role
She knows she’s not the girl these guys will choose for a long-term relationship (or as best as high school can get) so she leans into it. She flirts with all the cute single boys because why not have fun? She also knows she wants to go into directing and everything she does is to improve her résumé for college. She knows exactly where she wants to go and she knows what she needs to do to get in. I hate it when “ambitious high schoolers” are taken by surprise by admissions requirements.

» The authors are married
How cute is that!? This is their first book together and they’re releasing a The Taming of the Shrew retelling soon! I love the play and I’m curious to see their take on it.

» The book is set in Oregon
It never fails to make me happy to find out that a book I’m reading is set in Oregon. Bonus, I’ve been to a play at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival where Megan’s theater program puts on their big show and Ashland is ADORABLE!

What I Wished For:

» More of Megan’s flirtiness
There was some of her overt flirting, but not as much as I was expecting. She’s the school flirt and I wanted to see a lot more of it.

» More of Megan’s exes and where they are now
She’s the one before the one and I only got a real sense of one of the couples and I have questions about the others. How quickly did these guys find their ultimate high school loves after breaking up with Megan? How many of them did she have real feelings for? Where does she find these guys? Does she know/like all the girls they ended up with?

» Megan’s assertiveness
There were several times I was screaming at Megan to speak up. She’s so confident in who she is in school and in the theater, I hate that she doesn’t always stand up for herself or express her feelings in her personal life. Don’t get me started on her theater teacher.

Super cute high school love story with Shakespeare connections.

Fantasy AdventureAThon TBR

I was browsing through Twitter and came across the Fantasy AdventureAThon. I loved the idea of a choose your own adventure challenge and it’s been a while since I’ve read fantasy so this sounded like fun!

I came up with my path and team fairly quickly.

My TBR took more time because all my books are still packed in boxes. I dug through them to find as many of my fantasy books as I could without taking every single book out. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but the only books I’m buying are graphic novels to complete collections. Everything I read is either books I already own or books I borrow.

I was hoping more of my holds at the library would come through, but they didn’t. I picked some popular books and new releases, so they were long shots. But I still have a week so fingers crossed.

If you want to join, it’s not too late! Go here for the details.

Book Review: The Heirs

The Heirs book review

This got a lot of comparisons to The Nest, which I enjoyed, so I was excited about this. I also have a weird fascination with inheritance and how people have a strong sense of entitlement to someone else’s money.

Personally, I would be grateful if my parents left me anything, but I’m not going to demand it or hire a lawyer because I don’t feel like their money is my money. So when legal battles get ugly over money because someone feels like they deserve it, even if they weren’t included in the will, I’m like, “Get the popcorn!” Because greed is ugly and it’s a curse and if you’re going to create a spectacle over it, you deserve to be watched like the drama you are.

What I Loved:

» The Writing
I couldn’t stop reading. I could have easily read this in one sitting if I didn’t have life happening…or two needy dogs. I loved Rupert and Eleanor and their sons and all their friends and their sons’ friends and their sons’ families.

» The Characters
I feel like I know these people. Like they’re real people and I know them. Even though the book introduces a ton of different characters, the story really revolves around Rupert and Eleanor and how each person relates to them.

» All the Different Perspectives
With each new person and chapter, more little anecdotes and memories were released. Sometimes with this kind of story telling I get lost and frustrated because I want to stick with a particular story line. But this was masterfully done and I went along with whatever piece of the story Susan Rieger wanted to tell me.

The Heirs quote

What I Wished For:

» More of the Sons
Did I miss chapters on Tom and Jack? They seemed skipped over. Maybe that was the point since they were the youngest. Aren’t kids more and more overlooked the more that you have? I don’t know, I don’t have kids and I’m the oldest so I have no idea.

» More Eleanor
I don’t know what more I could want of her, but I do! She’s fascinating and I couldn’t get enough of her.

» A Glossary of Characters
You don’t even know how many characters are introduced. I really needed a list of all the characters and how they’re related to the family. At the end, there were some people that were touched on that I still can’t remember who they were or how they knew Eleanor.

Loved it, great writing, couldn’t get enough of Eleanor.

Misato Park | Okinawa City

Cass and I felt like getting out of the house. We didn’t want to go too far because it was getting dark so we ended up at Misato Park in Okinawa City.

Misato ParkMisato Park

It’s a little, but busy park. There are multiple play structures (which we stayed off of because the runners would curiously watch us as they passed by and I wasn’t trying to look like an idiot in front of an audience), a small skate park, a full basketball court (one side was missing a rim though), a big grassy area, a very well-used walking/running path around the perimeter, nice looking bathrooms, vending machines, and small parking lot.

Misato ParkMisato ParkMisato Park

Since it had just stormed earlier in the day, there were no kids playing. But there were lots of walkers and runners. There aren’t a lot of benches though, but there are some covered sitting areas.

Misato Park

We almost brought Gambit, but I’m glad we didn’t because he would’ve been in the way of the runners and there was only one other path straight through the middle of the park that he could’ve walked on. I also saw signs saying to take pet feces home to dispose of. They do a lot of trash sorting so I guess that’s why.

Misato Park


Book Review: The Dreamers

The Dreamers book review

I’ve had this on hold at the library for awhile so I can’t remember what first drew me to it, but WOW I’m glad for it. This is my favorite book of 2019 so far.

What I Loved:

» The Reading Experience
I tried to explain this to my husband, but it’s so hard. Here’s my best shot: at the beginning of the book, I felt clear headed and present and sure of what was happening. By the end of the book, I felt a little fuzzy and like I had just woken up from a vivid dream. Like I was in that fuzzy confusing space between the dream world and the real world so I wasn’t sure what was real and what was a dream. The writing style and the story telling really did a number on me.

» The Rising Sense of Panic
Okay, so when I read The Long Walk I felt chronically exhausted. And when I read Station Eleven, I kept wanting to wash my hands or bathe in hand sanitizer. When I read this, I felt a rising sense of panic and an increasing need to stay awake. Part of the staying awake part was because I didn’t want to not wake up and part of it was because I couldn’t stop reading and I stayed up most of the night to find out the ending.

» All the Different Perspectives
A lot of times I really hate more than two perspectives because I get lost so easily and I don’t bond with any character. In this instance, I appreciated jumping into so many perspectives to get a better sense of WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AND WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE FALLING ASLEEP AND WHO IS NEXT?

» Karen Thompson Walker Lives in Portland
If you’re new here, I’m from Portland so I love it when little things like reading a book by an author living in Portland pop into my life.

The Dreamers quote

What I Wished For:

» More of the Dreamers
I wanted to see more of what was going on with them, especially the original sleepers.

» A Little Deeper Dive into Each Character
I have a pretty good sense of each character, but I wanted just a little more of a connection. A little more action from each of them and a little more of their thoughts and theories of what was happening in their town. I think Sarah and Libby were the most rounded out. I loved seeing them active with their own agendas and plan of action.

» More of and Ending
The ending was great, but I wanted more. There were a lot of snapshots of how everyone moved on, but I wanted a lot more details. We spend so much time with certain individuals, I wanted each of their stories to have a chapter’s worth of a conclusion.

The Dreamers quote

Amazing story telling, amazing writing. My favorite read of 2019 so far.

Kuwae Park | Chatan-chō

cherry blossoms

I heard through Facebook that there were cherry blossoms at Kuwae Park in Chatan so I had to check it out. The rumors were right! There were some blooms! But not a lot. But lots of buds so maybe soon! But maybe not because the storms have been making the temperatures go up and down and the rain has been really intense some days. So the poor flowers don’t stand much of a chance and the blooms aren’t happening all at once.

cherry blossomscherry blossoms

Cass and I decided to wander down random paths and we were pleasantly surprised. There were lots of winding paths, stairways, and features all over. Whoever designed the park did a really good job because they packed a lot in there for such a small space, but it doesn’t feel packed in.

Kuwae ParkKuwae ParkKuwae ParkKuwae ParkKuwae Park

I’m terrified of snakes, so I always balk when I see those snake awareness signs. All the trees and bushes and flowers were so pretty, but I was so paranoid in the heavily vegetated areas. I swear the trees were extra creaky and the wind was extra rustly when we walked through those areas.

Kuwae Park
Kuwae Park

This is a great park to walk and wander. Paths led through and around the park so you’d really get a nice run in here, especially with the inclines and stairs. There’s also a lot of benches and shade so this is also a great park if you want to just relax and people watch or take in the scenery. The parking was tricky. Technically we parked in the adjoining community center lot. But it was midday on a weekday so it wasn’t full and no one cared. There was some street parking on a super narrow street with room for maybe 4 cars.

Kuwae Park

There’s also some extensive construction going on in the park. It’s contained to one area, so you can easily avoid it or get away from it and still enjoy the park.

It would be a great park to take Lexi & Gambit for walks. There are lots of signs (in English) reminding dog owners to pick up after their dogs and to keep them on their leash. We always pick up after our dogs and are too paranoid to let them off leash in non-dog parks so that’s not a problem for us.

Kuwae ParkKuwae Park


Lexi & Gambit Update

Our fence request was approved, but the materials are expensive and we want to hire someone to do it so we don’t have to…and that’s more money. It took so long to go through approvals that the spray paint showing where not to dig have faded so we’d have to re-request that. At this point it seems like a lot of work.

But that means that they got harnessed up and walked every time they need to go out. Rain or shine. Lazy or not. Sick or healthy. At least 3 times a day. Once in the morning, once in the evening, and once before bed. Sometimes more. It sucks sometimes.

Lexi is still under quarantine. BUT IT’S ALMOST OVER!!! Next month she’ll be able to go off base and we can take her to events on base. YAAAAAY! We’ve brought Gambit twice to the dog park, and one of those times was only because Lexi was being groomed so we didn’t feel guilty leaving her behind. She doesn’t act up and she doesn’t seem to really care. In fact, she always looks like she just woke up from a good nap whenever we come back. But we still feel super guilty.

Gambit’s 3rd birthday is coming around about now. They estimated 6-8 months when we adopted him so that’s around end of February to March. As soon as Lexi’s quarantine is up, we’re going to take them to the beach or to one of the bigger parks. It’ll for sure be a big dog adventure specifically for them.

Both pups have been extra lovey and clingy. I don’t know if it’s because they see Cass coming and going a lot so they’re trying to hold me down so I can’t leave too. But I love their cuddles even if they’re productivity killers. I’ve been working on getting them on some semblance of a schedule even when Cass has very unpredictable work hours. They definitely behave better when they know their next walk isn’t coming for awhile. But it also means I have two very vocal dogs when I’m 1 minute over their afternoon walk time.

I’ve been doing BarkBox unboxings with them, but the January one was a total fail. In November and December’s unboxing, they run all over the place and it’s hard to get them to stay in one area and focus. So I thought if we do it on the bed, they’d stay a little more contained. They somehow managed to scoot themselves into the camera blind spots and would plant there.

On top of that, the chew of the month was a trachea that wasn’t completely wrapped in plastic. Ants got all up in there and it was chaos trying to clean them out. Luckily they didn’t care about the sealed treats and the toys so I didn’t have to deal with that. Here’s hoping next month goes much better. I’ll end this with December’s video.

Book Review: Last Night in Montreal

Last Night in MontrealThis book came to me from a Twitter book rec thread.

I actually picked up a lot of really great books from that thread and I keep going back to it to see what else has been added. I immediately grabbed 3 books on Overdrive and have been steadily adding titles from this thread to my TBR on Goodreads.

What I Loved:

» @MollyMcKew was right when she described the writing as “haunting”
I enjoyed Station Eleven so I was kicking myself for not reading anything else by her. So this was the first book from that Twitter thread that I picked up and I read it immediately. I really love the way Emily St. John Mandel writes. It evokes a certain kind of mood and feeling that I can’t describe. Read Station Eleven and you’ll get what I mean.

» The mystery
Where is Lilia? Why is she running? Will Eli find her? What happens if he does find her? What happens if he doesn’t find her?

» Lilia’s name
If I do end up having a baby, I have both a girl and a boy name already. But if I somehow end up with two girls, Lilia will be at the top of the list for Baby Girl 2.

» Montreal
I didn’t know anything about Montreal until now. Is the city really so pro-French/anti-English? I’m curious and want to visit, but the locals will hate my English speaking. However, according to some reviews from people from Montreal this wasn’t a 100% accurate portrayal of the city. So I guess I’ll have to visit to judge for myself.

What I Wished For:

» More depth to Lilia
As is, she is giving me Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibes. Her need to run. Her habit of collecting and abandoning lovers everywhere she goes. Love-struck Eli chasing after her. The Eli chapters were very reminiscent of Q chasing Margo in Paper Towns.

» A character I could root for
I guess I was rooting for Michaela. But I really didn’t care much about any of them. At a some point, I realized I reading because I was enjoying the writing rather than the story itself.

» More Michaela. More of Lilia’s father. More of Simon.
Basically I wanted more of side characters. They were the ones who intrigued me the most. I wanted to see how Michaela went from who she was when we first meet her to who she is at the end.

Great writing, but not my favorite story or characters.

Lucky Bags | Fukubukuro | 福袋

Lucky bags or fukubukuro (福袋) is a New Years tradition in Japan. It’s a grab bag businesses will put out for a huge discount. It’s a way for businesses to clear out their shelves for new inventory and for customers to get great deals. You’re not supposed to look in the bags, but I saw a lot of people (both US and Japanese) peaking in or digging around.

2019 lucky bag

I remember seeing these bags at Sanrio stores in Hawaii, but it wasn’t a thing. We got up late on New Years and were super lazy, but we decided to wander over to the Aeon in American Village to see if we could find any good lucky bags.

When we first walked in, I was tempted to snatch every bag I saw. But then I saw a Starbucks and I had been wanting to try the limited edition Black Sesame Frappuccino so Cass and I got one to share. I really liked it! Cass didn’t care for it.

Cass and I did a lap of the first floor and I decided to go with a range of bags. First I got one of the bags from the beauty/skincare section. To be honest, I chose it based on the cuteness of the bag. I didn’t look into the brand…I probably should have, but it’s too late now.

2019 lucky bag

I haven’t tested any of it out yet. I’m making my way through some Tatcha products for the first time so I want to finish those out before trying something new.

Next, we got a bag from a section that looked like household cleaners and such. We kind of blindly chose that one. I didn’t realize until after we paid that the back of the bag was see through. But that’s okay, we specifically wanted bags that were a true blind grab bag.

2019 lucky bag

I tried out the detergent on our sheets and I liked it! The scent was on the floral side, but not overly done. I don’t think Cass even noticed a difference.

The last bag we got from Village Vanguard. I had seen some of the unbagging pictures on some Facebook groups so I knew it was really hit or miss. They were color coded by category, but there were no descriptions in English. Some people said the Rycom Aeon had English signs and some people said they just asked at the checkout counter. I left Cass to pick while I walked through Daiso.

2019 lucky bag

We put the pillow on the couch and the dogs use it every once in awhile as a head rest. We put the towel on the front door so we can wipe their paws after rainy walks. Everything else is going to our nieces and nephews.

Our strategy next year will to go more practical. As fun as the Village Vanguard bag was to open, the other bags had things we’d actually use. If we do go with something more fun next year, it’ll be from the Studio Ghibli store or Sanrio. Maybe we’ll go to Rycom Aeon or to Naha for more of a variety. Or maybe we’ll skip it altogether and save the money on something we know what we’re getting.