Saturday, November 11, 2017

{Book Review} "Blind Spot" by Dani Pettrey

Rating: 5/5

Blind Spot is Dani Pettrey's third installment in the Chesapeake Valor series. If you haven't read Cold Shot and Still Life, make sure to read those before diving into Blind Spot. 

 Enemies. Love. Terrorists. Murder. Fraud. This novel has so many complex elements. FBI Agent Declan Grey knows he has to stop the looming terrorist attack planned to take place on U.S. Soil. But how? Tanner Shaw takes a job as a counselor with the FBI and ends up being Grey's temporary partner. What she doesn't expect is the constant death attempts on her life. What's going on? How deep is Declan into this terrorism case? Tanner hopes the two of them can solve it because the safety of their country depends on it.

Meanwhile, Griffin and Parker are left devastated by the death of a mentor. At first they suspect suicide. But what does the evidence show? They find themselves on a wild journey as they work to prove their friend didn't commit suicide. On top of that, the two of them are doing everything they can to assist Declan in his case. Will it all be too much to handle?

Luke Gallagher disappeared seven years ago and Kate, who has never stopped loving him,  continues looking for him. What happens when he finally reappears? Is anyone in their group of friends safe at this point?

The characters are further developed in this installment of the series, so it is fun to read about Griffin and Finley and Avery and Parker so readers can catch up on what's happening with the characters from the first two novels of the series. Declan and Tanner both evolve as characters throughout the story.The plot of this novel is fast-paced and constantly changing.  At times this plot gets so complex that it can be tricky to keep it all straight, but that adds to the depth of the story line. The cliffhanger that the story ends with will leave readers eager to read the next installment of this mysterious series, which will no doubt further complicate the story. This is a well-written novel that is most definitely worth reading if you're a fan of police thrillers.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Importance of Travel

Recently, I went on an eight day trip to Ireland with my roommate and another friend. I expected it to be an adventure, which it definitely was, but my very favorite thing about the trip was how it turned into such a learning experience. I learned so much about myself. I'm a firm believer that travel is of the greatest importance. Travel teaches lessons that can't be learned otherwise. One week in Ireland revealed a lot to me about who I am and who I do not want to be. I realized just how much I value integrity. I learned that I can push myself further than I thought I could. And I learned that growth is a process that is sometimes painful but results in benefits that make the growing pains so worth it. What I thought would be a fun vacation turned into an experience that has shaped me closer to who I want to be.

You guys. Travel is important. It changes you. It opens your eyes to a new way of life, a new culture, a new system of how things work in other places. It teaches you what you can handle and what you have to work on in your life. It teaches you what kind of person you really are when you're away from the comforts of home.

I definitely believe that travel is especially important when you are young. At 22, I've only been to 10 countries. There's so much more of the world I want to experience! All I know is North America and Europe. I have no idea what real life in Africa, Asia or South America is like. How do people in Australia live their lives? I want to know! I want to learn all that I can from experiencing the lives of people from other cultures. It's my goal to travel as often and as far as possible because it's just so important. People who don't travel know only their little space in the world. The world is much bigger than your hometown. It's bigger than your country. Go explore it. 

Travel doesn't have to be expensive. Do it cheap. Stay in hostels. Eat convenience store foods. Wander and experience a city instead of buying souvenirs. Travel is possible. Make it a priority. It matters. 

That's all. I'll stop rambling now. 

Random Questions: November 2017

1. What decision are you glad you made? The decision to move to Budapest to be a teacher.
2. Share some good advice. Love more. 
3. What occupied your mind today? Mostly things involving teaching
4. What was the best conversation you had today? I had so many great conversations with students today.
5. Do you love your job? Very much so!
 6. If you could get rid of one of your habits, what would it be? My habit of talking more than I should.
7. List 5 things you wish you had with you today. More coffee, comfier shoes, markers, phone charger and a warmer coat.
8. What are the achievements you are most proud of? Graduating college
9. What gadgets did you use today? Phone, laptop, coffee maker, copier...
 10. What shocked you? I found out I was saying a Hungarian word wrong and the way I was saying it was actually a swear word! 
11. What was the last lie you told? I can't remember. I hate lying. 
12. What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican
13. What do you have too much of? Papers on my desk.
14. What do you want to tell yourself in one year? "Look how much you've grown."
15. What is your greatest strength? 
16. Other than your clothes, what was with you the majority of the day? My phone and lesson plan binder.
17. What’s your guilty pleasure? Gilmore Girls
 18. What is bothering you? Lately I've been bothered by comparing myself with others. Terrible.
19. What inspires youSeeing my students work hard to succeed.
 20. What impression did you make on others today? I hope I impressed on my students the importance of respect.
 21. What did you give up on today? Nothing.
 22. How did you play today? Met a friend for coffee and journaled. :) 
23. Name the last three things you used today. Laptop, toothbrush, toothpaste
 24. What sound do you hate hearing? The sound of anyone cracking their knuckles. Hate it!
25. Do you feel appreciated? Most of the time
26. Today I had too much occupying my time
27. What worries you? Currently all of the sad things happening in America worries me.
28. What did you get to do today? Teach, English Club and coffee with a friend.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Adventuring in Slovenia

When you're in your twenties, you do really crazy things like wake up at 2am to road trip from Budapest, Hungary to Ljubljana and Lake Bled, Slovenia all in one day. The views were worth it. :) This was my second time visiting Lake Bled, and it is still my favorite place I've ever ventured to.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

{Book Review} "Fatal Trust" by Todd M. Johnson

Rating: 4/5

Ian Wells just wanted to help his mom out. When his dad, Connor, passes away, Ian takes over his law firm. For five years, things go well as Ian works as an estate lawyer. The job is boring and not what he expected to be doing right after graduating from law school, but Ian is getting along. Then, one day, Ian is asked to take on an incredibly unusual case. From the very beginning of the case, things are strange. In a one week time span, things become strange and dangerous.

Art theft. Hot money. Trust fund. Murder. 

Ian has no idea what he has walked into by accepting this case. What appears to be a simple trust fund distribution is much, much more. Will Ian make it out alive? Will his clients live? What's with all the secrets and lies?

Fatal Trust starts off very, very slow. However, once the action picks up, it continues right up until the end. The pacing isn't great, but it is enough to draw readers in. All of the mystery and confusion among the characters will entice readers to push through the slow beginning. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, which is a bit challenging because none of them are developed super well, so you end up with a lot of characters you don't know much about. Nevertheless, the characters that are developed are interesting and the plot is entertaining. If you like crime fiction, this is a good choice.

I received a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

First 50 Days in Hungary

 I've lived in Hungary for 50 days.

Here are 50 things I've learned since moving to a foreign country.

1. The simplest things that I do without thinking in America are much harder when there's a language barrier. 
2. Observe everything.
3. Pray often.
4. Never stop exploring.
5. Celebrate the little successes.
6. Not all phone plans are created equally.
7. Be open to new experiences.
8. Allow time to process all the change.
9. Never make statements about things being "weird here."
10. It's not weird, it's different.
11.Public transportation is fantastic.
12. Appreciate other English speakers.

13. Avoid an American bubble--embrace the culture.
14. Learning to think in a foreign currency is much harder than I expected.
15. The Hungarian language is much harder than I ever imagined. 
16. Hungarian class is no joke.
17. Not being able to understand signs in the city is so confusing.
18. Cooking is actually fun #adulting
19. It's very possible to feel at home in a foreign country.
20. Distance changes relationships.
21. Feel fear but don't let it hold me back.
22. Patience.
23. Mosquitoes still haunt people even in October
24. Comparison is the root of dissatisfaction.
25. Time is not money and I need to slow down often.
26. Allll the flexibility. Plans aren't really actual plans, right?

27. Talk less, listen more.
28. Unplug from technology more often.
29. God knows my struggles and my frustrations and He's growing me through them.
30. Friends are so good for the soul.
31. Worship is worship no matter what language it's in.
32. Saying "no" is not a bad thing.
33. But say "yes" to adventure as often as possible.
34. Laugh often. When everything fails, laugh even more.
35. Ask for help. 
36. Have realistic expectations.
37. Creating a comfortable home is important.
38. Sleep is beautiful.
39. A bad day can't last more than 24 hours.
40. Appreciate the good days.
41. Facetime is a wonderful thing.
42. Decisions are hard.
43. Getting lost in the city is only a bad thing if you choose to be negative about it.
44. Teaching in a new culture is all kinds of different.
45. Teaching in a new culture is all kinds of amazing.
46. Gluten-free bread in Europe is the greatest. 
47. Ordering in a foreign language is basically the hardest.
48. European coffee shops are spectacular. 
49. Humor is very cultural. 
50. God will guide me through my time here.

Pretty sure that's the most random list I have ever compiled. These first fifty days have been incredible. Looking forward to the next fifty.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Random Questions: September 2017

1. What decision do you wish you didn’t have to make? There are a couple of personal decisions I'm not excited about having to make.
 2. What are you questioning? Everything I think I know the about Hungarian language.
 3. What was the most recent thing you learned? That Hungarian drivers will come dangerously close to hitting pedestrians before they stop!
4. Where would you like to go? Right now I'm thinking Ireland. :)
 5. The last doctor’s appointment you made was because I injured my foot.
6. Name 3 things you should have done today. Lesson planned more, cleaned my apartment and laundry.
7. What is the last thing you felt guilty about? I can't remember
8. My life would be easier if I didn't have food allergies. 
9. Does anyone owe you money? Nope
10. When is the last time you intentionally ‘wasted’ a day? Probably the week before I moved to Budapest...I had several free days to waste.
11. What is your favorite gadget? My phone
12. The computer I use the most is an Acer laptop.
13. How did you spend your free time today? Sitting outside reading by a fountain.
14. Were you stressed today? Why? Just a little...first day of school meetings!
15. What was the last thing you said to another person? "Goodnight."
 16. Who threw the last party you went to? A friend
17. What went perfectly about your day? The 2 hour nap I took after work
18. How old do you feel? 22.
19. What pressure did you feel today? To learn how to do my job well.
20. The last gift I’ve received was several cards from friends before I moved.
21. If you could change today would you? Nope
22. I believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life
 23. What do you wish you could have skipped today? The headache I've had all day
24. Were you in control of your day? I'm never in control of my days
 25. What made today worthwhile? Learning more about my teaching responsibilities
26. Were you a good listener today? I could have been better.
 27. I never want to say "never"
28. Have you broken the law? How so? Just some traffic laws (by accident!)
39. Were you bored today?  Not at all.