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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Show Your Colors

July 4th, the day that Americans put the flag on display and shout their pride from the rooftops in honor of freedom.  Now is the perfect time to share what makes me feel patriotic.  I love my country, but I’m not the most vocal about it.  However, there are two things that make my blood run red, white, & blue.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect that.  But, I can’t help feeling rage when someone born and raised outside the American borders feels the need to judge.  I am American-born and American-raised.  I can count the number of times I’ve left this country on one hand.  I speak English with an American accent.  I received education and now work as an adult here.  I can criticize this country because I am a citizen and know what I’m talking about (for the most part 😉).  Think of it this way.  As a brother or sister, you can tease your sibling(s) to your heart’s content, but God help the outsider who feels led to do the same.  Suddenly you’re on the defensive!  Perhaps that paints a clearer picture of my point.  Moving on.  I see or hear stories about soldiers every day, but nothing compares to seeing or meeting them in the flesh.  As a retail employee, I meet military personnel of all races and ages and feel an indescribable level of honor and pride to serve them.  I respect the diverse group of people willing to train and fight for this country.  If any soldiers, past or present, are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

Go out & have fun readers!  I wish you a safe, happy holiday.

🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

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– Lauren Michele <3

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The Wonderful World of Disney Presents:

Image Source: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-wonderful-world-of-disney-disneyland-60

I know I know I know!!  I talk about Disney A LOT.  However, I couldn’t help writing a post about the Disneyland 60 celebration that aired on ABC tonight.  Before I jump headfirst into all the amazing moments that took place, I want to mention two things that are not so good.  Go ahead and call me a prude, goodie two-shoes, etc.  I don’t care!  I personally think that the revealing costumes in the opening dance number were inappropriate; this was a special in honor of a family friendly theme park, and families at home and in the park were watching.  The second thing I want to mention isn’t bad, but it is somewhat of an elephant in the room and a detail that will most likely be mentioned by at least one person on the internet.  Most Disney fans wont mind watching two hours of Disney-related television and freaking out over the nostalgia and memories.  However, this two-hour special was more about Disney than Disneyland with the exception of a few interviews and fun facts throughout.  I don’t really care, but the truth is the special was a tad bit unnecessary if you consider that the subject was supposed to be Disneyland.  Moving on to the good stuff!

– Dance –

The “Part of Your World” dance number featuring Maddie Ziegler was short but beautiful.  The flowy costumes, monochromatic blue stage, and underwater background set a tranquil, dreamy mood.  Derek Hough lead a dance number set to “Step In Time.”  I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when Dick Van Dyke stepped onto the stage and danced at the end.

– Music –

The musical performances were amazing!  Here is a list of the songs performed in order:

• “Be Our Guest” – Pentatonix

• “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Jessie J

• “I Wan’na Be Like You” – Fall Out Boy

• “Circle of Life” – Elton John

• “Rainbow Connection” – Tori Kelly & Kermit the Frog

• “Let It Go” – Idina Menzel

• “Part of Your World” – Kelsea Ballerini

• “Friend Like Me” – Ne-Yo

• Star Wars Medley

Hore, Steven, and Sky Creative. Sky Movies, Star Wars. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. http://imgur.com/gallery/G7AaaFg.

Hore, Steven, and Sky Creative. Sky Movies, Star Wars. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. http://imgur.com/gallery/G7AaaFg.

• “Steve McQueen” – Little Big Town

• “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – Gustavo Dudamel & The Los Angeles Philharmonic

• “Wonderful Crazy Night” – Elton John

– Non-Musical Highlights –

• Helen Mirren was one of the first presenters.  Her grace & eloquence was in fine form and the perfect way to open the show.  She’s not a Disney princess; she is an honorary Disney QUEEN!  👑

• During the “Modern Family” cast interview, hidden Mickeys were discussed.  Being the geek that I am, I began to hyperventilate when I realized that hidden Mickeys were placed within the interview setting.  They were eventually pointed out, making me feel super smart.  😉

• I must admit I got teary eyed during the Disney girls montage.  Hearing famous lines from the diverse group & interviews from female celebrities impacted by female Disney characters was touching.  💕

• It was really cool to see a sneak peek of Star Wars land & the Shanghai Disneyland Park.  Soon, Star Wars fanatics will be able to board the Millenium Falcon in California 🌠, and Disney princess enthusiasts will be able to see the largest Disney theme park castle in Shanghai 🏰.

• Last but certainly not least, my favorite part of the entire show which occurred early on.  While walking around Disneyland, Josh Gad visited Walt Disney’s apartment and mentioned a lovely fact: When working inside the park, Walt Disney would keep his lamp by the window lit to let employees know he was watching to make sure everything was running smoothly.  Now, in his honor, the lamp is lit at all times.  🌟

During financial troubles, Walt took a leap of faith and created a mouse.  His creation continues to have a worldwide impact.

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Now I desperately want to visit Disneyland.  I hope you enjoyed this post readers.  “See” you soon!  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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In The Barnyard

In The Barnyard (Source: http://kindredspiritmommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Shaun_the_Sheep_06.jpg)

Earlier this week, a friend of mine invited me along for a house sitting adventure.  The adventure was mine to have because my friend had already visited this house and barn many times.  I have seen farm animals multiple times in my twenty-one years of life, but feeding them was a brand new experience.  To be exact, there were five dogs, three cats, two doves, two horses, two donkeys, and a small herd of goats and sheep (approximately ten).  The first part of the afternoon was spent inside watching TV with the dogs.  Nothing especially exciting except for the new episode of Once Upon a Time (Any fellow Oncers reading this??).  Eventually it was time to go outside and feed the other animals.  It was raining, but I did not care one bit.  I was practically leaping out of my skin from excitement!  I put on boots and a large coat, and followed my friend’s lead out the door, over the little bridge, and into the barn.  After filling buckets with two kinds of feed, I volunteered to feed the horses (my favorite domestic animal).  I enjoyed every little thing: opening the gate, walking through the rain and mud, and filling the barrels.  What happened next was the real adventure.  I walked into the goat and sheep enclosure but left the feeding task to my friend.  Have you ever watched goats and sheep be fed?  They are greedy!  There were three bowls, and yet as soon as my friend moved on from one bowl to the next, the entire group would ignore the food in front of them and follow the bucket.  After giving the donkeys some feed, we made our way back into the horse pen.  The group of goats and sheep followed, and one particularly bossy sheep managed to push her way in.  She made her way over to one of the horses and watched it eat as though she was going to take part.  Like I said, GREEDY!!  As I made my way through the mud and attempted to herd the animal back to where she belonged, I could not help but laugh.  The seemingly annoying situation was actually a dream come true.  I felt like Anne of Green Gables trying to get her cow out of Rachel’s field with the help of her best friend Diana.  I managed to back the sheep against the gate but simultaneously had to keep the rest of the pushy herd out.  Teamwork prevailed, and all animals were where they were meant to be once again.  I really wish the chase was on video, but alas it is not.  All I have is the hilarious, muddy memory.  I hope I was able to paint a vivid picture and add some laughter to your Saturday night.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend readers!

– Lauren Michele :)

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