2017 Wrap Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

With twelve minutes to spare in 2017, I completed my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books. Thanks to the diversity of those books, I also completed the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. Let’s recap the categories accompanied by detailed & extensive lists:

📚 A Book you Chose for the Cover – Before we dive into the list, I want to clarify that I define a cover buy as a book I picked up because the cover caught my eye, which doesn’t  mean I didn’t look at the synopsis:

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins | I almost didn’t buy this book, but I couldn’t get the cover out of my head.

📖 The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudis

📖 Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

📖 Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-Able

And Then There Were None & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie | Some people might also include Death on the Nile, myself included.

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

📖 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Cinder & Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📖 The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, & The Queen by Steven James ( bestselling author & series )

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been but Would Like to Visit

🇪🇬 Egypt – Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, Crocodile on the Sandbank & The Curse of Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens,  And Then There Were NoneCrooked House, & The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis, Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon,  & Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

📚 A Book You’ve Already Read – I did a lot of rereading last year:

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

📖 Kristy’s Great Idea, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, & The Truth About Stacey by Ann M. Martin

📖 Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

📖 Mind Over Monsters, To Catch a Vampire, & Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow

📖 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Tutu Deadly & Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts

📖 The Rook, The Knight, & The Bishop by Steven James

📖 White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter

📚 A Juicy Memoir In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett. The ending made me cry. No lie!

📚 A Book About Books or ReadingThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan & The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – These aren’t all genres I avoid on purpose; I just don’t reach for them often:

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins ( contemporary )

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ( science fiction )

📖 In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett ( memoir)

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ( fantasy )

📖 Mind Over Monsters, To Catch a Vampire, & Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow ( supernatural )

📖 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan ( contemporary )

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling ( fantasy )

📖 Cinder & Glitches by Marissa Meyer ( science fiction )

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I’m not embarrassed by this series but rather ashamed that I didn’t pick it up sooner. I also read …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite AuthorPearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste – These are recommendations by bookstagrammers, booktubers & friends:

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Night by Elie Wiesel

📖 Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

📖 Cinder & Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy but Haven’t Read Yet – Though I’m excited about every book I purchase, this list includes the titles I’d been dying to read but had yet to do so:

📖 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

📖 The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

📖 Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📖 The Queen by Steven James

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already Love – Another thorough list:

📖 And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Death on the Nile, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie ( mystery )

📖 The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie ( Christmas & mystery )

📖 The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie & Charles Osborne ( mystery )

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins ( the holidays )

📖 The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudis ( crime )

📖 In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett ( The Carol Burnett Show )

📖 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene ( mystery )

📖 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ( Christmas )

📖 Crocodile on the Sandbank & The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters ( Egyptology & mystery )

📖 Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet ( mystery )

📖 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire ( I already love the musical! )

📖 The Postcard Killers by James Patterson ( crime )

📖 Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen ( Amish life & crime )

📖 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan ( books & reading )

📖 Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon ( mystery )

📖 Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis ( mystery )

📖 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder ( pioneer life )

📖 Cinder & Glitches by Marissa Meyer ( fairytales )

📖 Heartless by Marissa Meyer ( Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland )

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ( books & reading )

📖 Tutu Deadly & Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts ( dance & mystery )

📖 The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, & The Queen by Steven James ( crime )

📖 Land of Silence & Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar ( Bible times )

📖 Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delaney ( Christmas & mystery )

📖 White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter ( Amish life & Christmas )

Total: 12 Categories & 50 Books

Here are links to my reading updates & 2017 Goodreads Challenge:

2016 Wrap Up & 2017 Reading Challenges ( V I D E O )

January Reading Wrap Up | 2017 Reading Challenge Update

BookTube-A-Thon

October 2017 Wrap Up | November 2017 TBR

Murder on the Orient Express Vlog

November Wrap + December TBR

📚 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge 📚 

Due to reading fatigue, I am not officially committing to the 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. However, I’m not giving up completely. I may join at any point during the year so I’m leaving the categories here for reference.

📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to ReadA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste – TBD

📚 A Book in TranslationThe Time in Between by Maria Duenas

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018 – TBD

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay CollectionRomeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

📚 A Book You Can Read in a DayLittle House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 PagesHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

📚 A Book by a Favorite AuthorMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie BooksellerThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

📚 A Banned BookTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative NonfictionTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your OwnHarvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar

Last but not least, I pledged to read 55 books on Goodreads. I’m not going to push myself because reading should be fun, not a competition. Regardless of whether or not I read a certain number of books, I’m doing something I love. Happy reading!

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Filming Frustrations | Blogmas 2017

If the joy of Christmas is what you seek, bah humbug. I swear I’m not trying to ruin your Christmas. As a blogger, it is my duty to be honest about my life. The past twenty-four hours have been awful. Last night I found out that two of the gifts I ordered online were damaged. I woke up late because I stayed up to watch a Christmas movie that I didn’t end up liking (I’m looking at you Noel). I forgot to charge my camera batteries overnight AND while I was getting ready. Despite racing to beat the sun, it took several hours to film only two videos. I wanted to get a third filmed, but I couldn’t find my dreidel which was supposed to be the starring prop. I still haven’t found that darn top! I am now tired and cranky and probably the top name on Santa’s naughty list. Bring on the coal! Despite all the stress, I am thankful for a home that is still standing because there is a fire burning a few miles away. My thoughts & prayers are with everyone being affected. Stay safe California!  <3

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

T e n   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .   

E i g h t e e n   D a y s    U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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No Laughing Matter

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

I consider myself a person with a good sense of humor.  I try my best to decipher the appropriate times to let go and laugh.  This is not one of those times.  Recently, I noticed some jokes on social media centered around the California drought.  I not only find this in bad taste but extremely offensive.  I am a California girl born and raised so I am naturally protective, but I have other reasons.  The drought is much more than a shortage of water.  Thanks to the lack of rain and scorching temperatures, the Golden State is kindling ready to ignite.  Hearing about or driving by a fire is a daily occurrence.  A few weeks ago, the shopping center where I work was more crowded than usual because people were waiting for the smoke from a nearby fire to clear from the air.  Of course some fires are started by people, but the dry conditions invite the flames to spread with open arms.  Farmers are scrambling to protect their livelihood.  Families have lost their homes.  People have lost their lives.  Is that funny??  NO!!  Yes, there are selfish people who have not taken the drought seriously, but that is not an excuse.  It doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are regarding this state.  Next time you want to poke fun at the California drought, remember the people whose lives are being negatively affected.  Let this be a lesson to us all: educate yourself before opening your mouth.

If you need more proof of the devastation, here are links to eye-opening images:

• http://mashable.com/2015/09/14/valley-fire-devastation-photos/#HLDqTGuiASqh

• http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos

• http://stuartpalley.photoshelter.com/index/G0000ZMVoBzIEtqs/I0000BH7TwqpPOO0

 

 

Those Summer Nights

It’s that time of year folks, the time when earth feels like it’s roasting inside a sauna over the flames of hell.  When I’m not concealing sweat at work, I’m sitting in front of a fan at home pretending I live in a colder climate.  Not only is it hot, but California is rain-free, dry, and on high alert for fires.  Fun times!  Now that I’ve brought you up to speed on the weather report, prepare yourself for a story eerily similar to one I told one year ago.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the following link and study up:

https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/the-big-bad-june-bug-attack-of-2015/

The night was June 21, 2016 and the time approximately midnight.  The night air was refreshingly cool.  The window was open and the fan blasting.  I was spread out on the couch preparing to enjoy some therapy a-la-Netflix.  In one moment, my seemingly perfect summer night came screeching to a halt.  I heard the haunting buzz of a large insect and wasted no time in jumping off the couch and turning on the light.  As soon as I did so, I caught sight of movement in the window.  The volume of my voice raised slightly as I exclaimed that there was a bug inside the house.  He was not very happy with my actions because next thing I know he’s flying at me.  I ran down the stairs yelling “NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!”  My mom came out of her bedroom to see what was going on, and my dad expressed concern from the comfort of his bed.  Armed with a shoe and Lysol, I made my mom accompany me while I checked every single window in the house.  I was not about to sleep with a huge bug on the loose!!  After many tears and a panic attack, I shut myself in my room (after numerous inspections) and did my best to sleep despite intense anxiety and a migraine.  The next day my mom informed me that she had found a dead June bug in her bedroom.  I felt immediate deja vu.  What is it with my mom and I fighting June bugs??!!!

Don’t you just love summer?? 😡

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Spring Needs to Unspring

🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻

Let the rant begin:  I didn’t experience a proper fall or winter so why on earth would I be prepared for spring?!!  Spring sounds good in theory: cloudless skies, sunshine, colorful flowers, etc.  Only one problem: I hate all of those things!  Except flowers.  I like flowers.  The only other thing I like about spring is the rain, but I live in California.  We don’t get rain, only 24/7 life-draining sunshine.  Also, for once I’d like people to say they love fall and/or winter and not change their minds when warmer weather rolls into town.  You either love the cold or you don’t.  Don’t be wishy washy!  Follow my example.  I am consistently “Debbie Downer” when the sun decides to grace my living space with its presence. ;)

Okay.  Got that out of the way.  I promise to try being positive about spring, but I make no promises.  It is currently 77° and sunny outside.  I am watching “Friends” on Netflix, eating dried pineapple, and talking to all of you lovely people.  I’m also storing energy for my workout later in the day.  Just like the pros! 😂

🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻

I leave you with my current favorite song, which just so happens to be appropriate for the impending warmer weather.  Enjoy!

🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻🌷🌻

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Dear Younger Self

(Image Source: https://worthyofagape.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/dear-younger-self.jpg)

Two nights ago, I had an eye-opening experience.  I couldn’t sleep so I decided to read through my old diary, and what I found shocked me.  I used vague language and failed to mention most of the significant events from my childhood.  There was no substance!  I am a writer; when the need arises, I express myself through words to vent and heal.  In my poetry journals, I was completely open about what was going on around me and how I was feeling.  However, those poems were written within the last five years.  My diary was started four years prior to my discovery of poetry.  Perhaps I’ve been watching too much “Criminal Minds” because I have an analysis.  I wont give explicit details, but I went through a lot mentally and emotionally.  My memories are crystal clear, but, based on my diary, I was not aware of how I was being affected.  I brushed aside contributing factors as minor annoyances.  I believe that repression is why, years later, I react so explosively; I am overcompensating for my silence in the past.  I don’t want to drag on so I will end with these words, a note to my younger self and girls who have gone through/are going through similar struggles:

“You feel ugly, fat, alone, and hopeless.  You have given up on yourself because no matter how desperate you are to speak up, you are afraid.  Let go of your emotions; allow yourself to scream and cry.  When you feel better, pick yourself up and start anew with your head held high.  It may feel impossible now, but you make it farther than your young mind can imagine.  Do not lose the fire inside of you.  Never stop fighting!”

(Image Source: https://img0.etsystatic.com/024/0/6604282/il_570xN.509481350_gcnr.jpg)

(Image Source: https://fightingchronicpain.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/never-stop-fighting.jpg)

(Image Source: http://media.giphy.com/media/qwj1znuklIGc0/giphy.gif)

“And all those things I didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain.  I will scream them loud tonight.  Can you hear my voice this time?  This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song.  My power’s turned on.  Starting right now I’ll be strong.  I’ll play my fight song.  And I don’t really care if nobody else believes ’cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc

                                   (Image Source: http://frenchpressmornings.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Hebrews13.5.png)

(Image Source: http://megansmidt.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/jeremiah-29-11.jpg)

“In the midst of deep sorrow, I see Your light is breaking through.  The dark of night will not overtake me.  I am pressing into You.  Lord, You fight my every battle.  And I will not fear.  I am not alone.  I am not alone.  You will go before me.  You will never leave me.”

“I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfveawSAHJA

(Image Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IFBiMPMV-jQ/VTb70apiEZI/AAAAAAAAS_M/wk8D5yENqM0/s1600/just-keep-swimming.gif)

(Image Source: http://24.media.tumblr.com/c3a6fcfcb0fc5843efd73dd3e2a394ee/tumblr_mz4anao6Pn1rd0hedo1_500.gif)

(Image Source: http://s1064.photobucket.com/user/kaitlinleighs/media/tumblr_m7utqjHJzL1r9fcwro1_500.gif.html)

(Image Source: http://media.giphy.com/media/13uNYQRS1U6mTC/giphy.gif)

I hope you feel better!  Feel free to talk and/or vent in the comment section.  This is a safe environment.  “See” you soon readers.  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Best Friend Tag

If you follow my Youtube channel, you know that me and my best friend Gabby did the Best friend Tag.  We had so much fun talking and reminiscing.  I ended up having to edit the video into four parts.  For your viewing pleasure, I am linking all the videos in this blog post for convenience.  Enjoy!

– Part 1 –

Veggietales, Dress up, Wolf Pack, Dream Jobs, Makeup, and Golden Girls

Best Friend Tag 1_Collage

– Part 2 –

Europe, Codewords, Bathroom Karaoke, Fears, and Weather

Best Friend Tag 2_Collage

– Part 3 –

Showtunes and Heavy Metal, Youtube, Shoes, Twinzies, Spongebob Squarepants, Pet Bugs, and Death by Fire

Best Friend Tag 3_Collage

– Part 4 –

Movie Genres, Middle Earth Allegiance, Calamari, Tattoos, and Too Much TV

Best Friend Tag 4_Collage

If you and your best friend(s) would like to do this tag, here are the questions:

1. How and when did you meet?

2. What’s your favorite memory together?

3. Describe each other in one word.

4. What’s your dream job?

5. What’s your favorite makeup brand?

6. What is something that annoys you about the other person?

7. If you could go anywhere in the world together, where would it be and why?

8. Favorite inside joke?

9.  Who takes longer to get ready in the morning?

10. Favorite season?

11. Favorite song?

12. What’s it like being friends with someone who is obsessed with Youtube?

13. Heels or flats?

14. Pants or dresses?

15. Favorite animal?

16. If your house was burning down, and your family was sure to be okay, what would you save and why?

17. Comedy, horror, or chick flick?

18. Blackberry or iPhone?

19. Favorite movie?

20. What is something weird that you eat?

21. Do you guys have anything matching?

22. What’s your favorite TV show?

– Source: http://www.wattpad.com/34825305-best-friend-tag-questions

– Some of these questions are meant for girls but can easily be changed for boys.

” Best friends are people you don’t need to talk to every single day.  You don’t need to talk to each other for weeks, but when you do, it’s as if you didn’t even stop talking.”  – Unknown

Treasure your best friend(s) readers!!

– Lauren Michele <3

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