2018 Reading Wrap-Up

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For once, I completed my reading goal with time to spare & exceeded it by two. I set my goal at 55 and completed 57 books. Yay! 🎉 Now for the semi-disappointing news: I didn’t complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I could beat myself up, but reading is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Not all of the 2018 challenges matched up with what I wanted to read last year, and that is okay.

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📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read

📖 A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste

📖 As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

📖 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

📖 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

📚 A Book in Translation

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book You Can Read in a Day

📖 Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

📖 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

📖 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Scream All Night by Derek Milman

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Athur Conan Doyle

📖 The Little Android by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 Pages

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

📚 A Book by a Favorite Author

📖 The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie Bookseller

📖 Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

*Note: This category doesn’t (necessarily) count. Even though Hiddensee is on an IndieBound list, I didn’t read it because of their recommendation.

📚 A Banned Book

📖 N/A 

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative Nonfiction

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your Own

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch)

📖 The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel (Mexican)

*Note: The definition of “ethnicity” is different depending on who you ask so I relied solely on where an author was born. I didn’t include British authors because of my own family’s roots, but perhaps that was just overthinking on my part.

I also read:

📖 A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet

📖 Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts

📖 Cress by Marissa Meyer

📖 Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 Fairest by Marissa Meyer

📖 Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 In The Woods by Tana French

📖 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

📖 Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

📖 Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett

📖 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

📖 The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

📖 The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

📖 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

📖 The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

📖 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

📖 Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

📖 We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

📖 Winter by Marissa Meyer

📖 Written on the Wind by Judith Pella

Total: 9(ish) Challenges & 57 Books

⬇️  Here are all of my 2018 reading-related links  ⬇️

2017 Wrap-Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

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📚 Stay tuned for my 2019 reading plans! 📚  

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Reunited, & It Feels So Good

Last night I stayed up late reading. In my mind I knew I should be a responsible adult & go to bed, but my heart told me to take advantage. It’s been awhile since I devoured a book so I resisted sleep for as long as I could, specifically until 1:30am. Goodbye reading slump! For those that are curious, I’m currently reading Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco. It is the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper, and I am loving it so far. Speaking of books, my family visited Barnes & Noble Sunday night. I always know how depressed I will be looking at all the books I can’t afford, but I go anyway. My parents were kind enough to buy me a new book. THANK YOU!!!!! I chose Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero, a novel I’ve been dying to read for months. I am a HUGE Scooby-Doo fan so I hope this mystery gang-inspired story lives up to my expectations. In regard to my Tuesday agenda, I am currently blogging on my typewriter while watching my favorite Almanzo & Laura episodes of Little House on the Prairie. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Happy Tuesday! :)

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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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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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

I have waited all year for this movie! Part of my birthday celebration was seeing the first showing at my local theater. As a passionate Agatha Christie fan, I have thoughts both good and bad so settle in for a semi-bumpy Orient Express ride.

Many people had doubts about Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of beloved detective Hercule Poirot. If you’re a doubter, I want to put your mind at ease. Mr. Branagh is hands down the best part of the movie. He kept the spirit of the Poirot we all know and love while adding humor and his own unique touch to the character. He is a constant source of smiles and laughs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Overall the ensemble cast did not disappoint. Johnny Depp is fantastic as always (SPOILER) even though his part is short-lived. Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz have some shining moments, and Dame Judi Dench’s monologue about little Daisy Armstrong made me tear up. Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin’s respective portrayals of Count & Countess Andrenyi are dark, a hidden gem that is impressive considering their inexperience. Josh Gad was good for the most part, but the chase scene involving Poirot felt awkward. The conflict between Hercule and Dr. Arbuthnot also felt clumsy. Daisy Ridley acted well, but I did not like Mary Debenham’s demeanor. In the book, she is polite and reserved which leads Poirot to suspect she might be the mastermind behind the murder; his suspicion makes little sense in the movie because Mary is much too bright and happy.

The book’s methodical layout is not perfectly suited for a movie. Some may find the added action irritating, but I understand the necessity to shake up the format onscreen. That being said, some of the clues got lost in the shuffle due to a speedier pace. As far as I remember, all the clues from the book were included, but they weren’t given the time they needed to simmer and encourage the audience to consider possible outcomes. Perhaps the extra, non-book stuff could’ve been trimmed to accommodate character interviews and clue discoveries, making the final reveal much more grand than it actually was. I also want to mention that I don’t remember Biniamino Marquez being named at the end. (SPOILER) The twist relies on the shock of twelve people being involved, each with a specific connection to the Armstrong family. The cast may seem large, but those who know the story well won’t miss anything, even if only one name is passed over. This goes back to details being muddled at the end. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the greatest stories ever written in the mystery genre. If you don’t lay it out correctly, you spoil the thrill and fun of the twists and turns.

I love two-thirds of the movie, but the ending is a disappointment. Things can surely get better from here so I hope Kenneth Branagh is giving the chance to continue the series, perhaps with a book that has less adaptations. I truly believe he can do great things with Poirot. The final scene hints at a sequel based on Death on the Nile. How great would that be?! 😄

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boSSSZpAkyw&t=25s

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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BookTube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap Up

I was M.I.A. last week, but I have a very good reason: I was participating in BookTube-A-Thon 2017!! If you don’t know what that is, it is an annual summer read-a-thon put together by Ariel Bissett. Bookstagrammers, booktubers, bloggers, & readers from around the world come together to read as much as possible and participate in fun challenges. Even though it was an emotionally and physically exhausting week, I had so much fun and already can’t wait for next year. I kept track of my reading so I could share my journal with you. Here it is:

📝 Challenges & My TBR:

• Read a Book With a Person on the Cover – The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene

• Read a Book in One Day – The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene

• Read a Hyped Book – Heartless by Marissa Meyer

• Read a Book Featuring a Character Who is Very Different From You – Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

• Read a Book You Purchased Because of the Cover – Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

• Read a Book Outside – Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

• Read 7 Books – Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

📝 Daily Progress:

DAY 1 – JULY 24

📖 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger – 20 chapters, 175 pages | I finished this book & completed the “One Day Read”  and “Person on the Cover” challenges. ✅

📖 Heartless – 10 chapters, 93 pages

📚 Total: 30 chapters, 268 pages, 1 book complete, & 2 challenges complete

DAY 2 – JULY 25

📖 Heartless – 15 chapters, 131 pages

📚 Total: 15 chapters, 131 pages

DAY 3 – JULY 26

📖 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls – 15 chapters, 153 pages | Book complete! ✅

📖 Kristy’s Great Idea – 15 chapters, 157 pages | I finished this book & completed the “Read a Book Outside” challenge. ✅

📖 Wicked Autumn – 5 chapters, 40 pages

📚 Total: 31 chapters, 350 pages, 2 books complete, & 1 challenge complete

DAY 4 – JULY 27

📖 Heartless – 10 chapters, 98 pages

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories – 5 chapters, 76 pages

📖 The Truth About Stacey – 5 chapters, 60 pages

📚 Total: 20 chapters, 234 pages

DAY 5 – JULY 28

📖 Heartless – 8 chapters, 64 pages

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories – 10 chapters, 186 pages

📖 The Truth About Stacey – 10 chapters, 120 pages | Book complete! ✅

📚 Total: 28 chapters, 370 pages, & 1 book complete

DAY 6 – JULY 29

📖 Heartless – 11 chapters, 73 pages | I finished this book & completed the “Hyped Book” challenge. ✅

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories – 5 chapters, 104 pages | Book complete! ✅

📚 Total: 16 chapters, 177 pages, 1 book complete, & 1 challenge complete

DAY 7 – JULY 30

📖 Wicked Autumn – 19 chapters, 211 pages

📚 Despite my best efforts, exhaustion took over, and I was unable to complete Wicked Autumn therefore failing the “Cover Buy” and “Read 7 Books” challenges. I chose The Truth About Stacey as my replacement book for the “Character Who is Different From You” challenge. Stacey is from the East Coast and has diabetes. If that isn’t enough, I could pick Catherine from Heartless who is a future queen and very wishy-washy when it comes to speaking up. I could also pick Miss Marple who is an elderly woman & amateur sleuth. Basically, I completed the challenge in more ways than one.

🎉 Final Numbers: 159 chapters, 1,741 pages, 6 books complete, & 5 challenges complete. Not too shabby for my first year!

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ If you would like to watch my reading process & video challenges, check out my BookTube-A-Thon 2017 YouTube playlist ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

⚠️ YOU CAN ALSO CLICK HERE ➡️ BOOKTUBE-A-THON YOUTUBE PLAYLIST ⬅️

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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 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 about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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Back to the Days of Yesteryear

If you know me well, you know that my life is fueled by nostalgia.  Not a day goes by without me thinking about something childhood-related.  For awhile I felt like a freak who just couldn’t handle the stress of “adulting.”  Turns out I’m not alone.  More and more people born in the 90s are speaking up and reminiscing about the “good old days.”  In college, blankets and backpacks adorned by beloved characters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Spongebob Squarepants were a normal sight.  I’ve recently noticed several Youtube videos revolving around childhood.  Remakes of classic TV shows and movies are being produced by the dozens.  There is unrest in the 2010s!!  I can think of two major reasons why this is happening.

1.  It’s normal to reach an age where childhood is a distant memory, and adulthood is a scary place.  The feeling is similar to that of a skydiver’s parachute unexpectedly disappearing.  Suddenly the innocence and freedom of the grade school years sounds like an upgrade.

2.  People are truly unhappy with the quality of entertainment (toys, music, movies, shows, etc) being produced this decade.  The 90s and 2000s are a golden age of sorts.  Think about it.  “Full House” has a successful spinoff, and “Hey Arnold” reruns air every weeknight on The Splat.  If demand is any indication, the surge of nostalgia isn’t stopping anytime soon.

No matter the reason, we are winning the battle.  Millennials unite!!  Here’s a look at my childhood:

• Baby Years (1993 – 1998)

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• Middle Years (1999 – 2003)

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*Note: I also watched a lot of old shows such as “Looney Tunes”, “The Flintstones”, I Love Lucy”, The Andy Griffith Show”, and “The Brady Bunch.”  My dad and I watched western movies on the weekends.  Lots of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. :)

Teen Years (2004 – 2011)

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*Note: My later teen years were spent obsessing over crime shows such as “CSI”, “CSI: NY” and “The Mentalist.”  I also watched reruns of old shows such as “The Nanny”, “Friends”, “Saved by the Bell”, and “Full House.”

• This is only a small part of my childhood.  For more nostalgia, click the following link & visit my “Childhood” board on Pinterest:

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/lagirl93/childhood/

• I also have a “Throwback” playlist on Spotify:

Source: https://open.spotify.com/user/lagirl93/playlist/4iPObw0WtuVbw3v4zIvI4S

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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– Image Sources in Order of Appearance –

http://www.eonline.com/photos/10678/the-most-awesome-things-from-the-90s/339845

• http://www.amazon.com/Berenstain-Bears-Forget-Their-Manners-ebook/dp/B00472OBSE/ref=pd_sim_351_4?ie=UTF8&dpID=615x3gtjaNL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_OU01_AC_UL320_SR320%2C320_&refRID=1R8T38FD5SMD9WG6MKE7

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Ratigan6688/Top_10_Best_Little_Kids’_Shows

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/TaleSpin

• http://dreamworks.wikia.com/wiki/VeggieTales

• http://www.americangirlmuseum.org/beforever/

• http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140618006549/en/Can’t-Can’t-Meet-Entrepreneur-Barbie®

• http://theodysseyonline.com/uvm/90s-fashion-that-should-make-comeback/376214

• https://play.wimpmusic.com/album/1412843

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Kim_Possible

• http://fortyfoursunsets44.blogspot.com/2012/08/back-to-school-with-lisa-frank.html

• http://www.playbuzz.com/emilyg11/do-you-actually-remember-lizzie-mcguire

• http://www.hulu.com/the-saddle-club

• http://www.m-magazine.com/posts/10-crazy-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-cheetah-girls-40916/photos/flashback-friday-tk-crazy-facts-about-the-cheetah-girls-48579#photo-anchor

• http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/hannah-montana/images/15486507/title/hannah-montana-season-1-wallpaper-21-wallpaper

• http://www.amazon.com/High-School-Musical-1-3-Efron/dp/B001Q3KQ68

• http://tigerbeat.com/2009/08/check-out-this-hot-jonas-poster-only-in-october-tiger-beat/

• http://kellyclarkson.wikia.com/wiki/Breakaway_(Album)

http://olsensanonymous.blogspot.com/2013/04/mka-2004.html

• http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Clock-Nancy-Drew-Book/dp/0448095017/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1RMEE3QJGKS50VGPE8SR

• http://www.maximumpop.co.uk/suite-life-of-zack-and-cody-throwback/

• http://winxclubworld.wikia.com/wiki/File:Season.jpg

• http://nickelodeon.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Zoey_101_characters

Seasonal Sneezings | Blogmas 2015

Is sneezings even a word?  Oh well!  It sounds clever. ;)  I stayed home from church today because I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck.  Dairy-free egg nog and “The Great British Bake Off” on Netflix has proved to be a successful remedy.  I really need to get better because I work tomorrow night.  Lovely!  Sadly, today was the last day of Hanukkah.  I am grateful for all of the gifts I received.  To commence the Festival of Lights, I will be watching “Maccabees: The Story of Hanukkah.”  Here is a clip of the short, animated movie:

Last night I started reading “The Pawn” by Steven James.  I have read it before, but I am starting over because the series is longer now so I want to refresh my memory of the first few books.  The Patrick Bowers Files is a great series; in a nutshell, the books are thrilling crime/mystery adventures.  The format is similar to that of “Criminal Minds” on TV because you read from many points of view including agent Patrick Bowers and the unknown serial killer.  I will definitely be reading a few chapters before bed tonight.  Smart decision!  If you are interested in this series, click the link: Books

Vlogmas – Lauren Michele

2 days until Artmas – Lauren Michele Photography – WordPress.com

12 days until Christmas…

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– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: Deck the Halls | Blogmas 2015

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Summer Essentials 2015

These are my must-haves for Summer 2015.  Watch the Youtube version here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYeTuY_DPJs – or continue reading.  Click the names of each product to get more information.  :)

*** I apologize in advance for the weird spacing!  I’m having technical problems with my blog but doing my best to fix them.

Sunscreen Spray

 

Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Spray

Sunscreen spray takes less time to apply than sunscreen lotion but is just as effective.  Coppertone offers sprays ranging from SPF 30 to 100.

– Swimsuit –

Roxy Moroccan Beach Tiki Tri Tankini Top

Roxy Moroccan Beach Tiki Tri Tankini Top
Roxy Classic 2" Boardshort
I apologize for the bad quality.  I couldn’t find a better picture!
iPod
  Purple iPod nano 5th Generation
This is a 5th generation iPod Nano in purple.
– Books –
"Bookplate Special" by Lorna Barrett
This is what I am currently reading.  It is the third book in the Booktown Mysteries series by author Lorna Barrett.
Sunglasses
Black Wayfarer Sunglasses
My sunglasses look exactly like these except for the Ray Ban logo; they don’t have any logo on the temples..  I bought them at Nordstrom Rack and took them home in a Lacoste case, but I vaguely remember that the Lacoste cases were all they had left.  Therefore, my sunglasses could very well not be Lacoste.
Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizer
I use this as a moisturizer before applying makeup during the Spring and Summer seasons to give my skin extra color.  I use “Medium to Tan” to expedite the tanning process.
CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
I have used this mascara since my relationship with makeup started back in junior high, and I do not plan on stopping anytime soon.  LOVE!
Physicians Formula Powder Palette Multi-Colored Custom Bronzer, The Bombshell Bronzer, "Blondes"
I wear this as a highlighter on top of my Physicians Formula Cashmere Wear Ultra-Smoothing Bronzer.
Evian Facial Spray
I use this to cool down my skin, but it is also an inexpensive alternative to expensive makeup-setting sprays.
– Lip Balm –
EOS Smooth Spere Lip Balm, "Sweet Mint"
Rose Salve
I own way more lip balm than I need, but these two are my favorites.  EOS is great for day-to-day use, and Rose Salve is great for extremely chapped lips.
Starbucks
Starbucks
When the sun comes out, nothing beats the heat quite like a Starbucks frappuccino or iced coffee.  Can I get an amen??
Hey you, sunshine.  Bring on the heat!!  I.  Am.  Ready.
– Lauren Michele <3