Sunday, July 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived


Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived by Andrew Wilson



I've had this book on my "to read" list for quite some time and a random Saturday trip to the library had me walking away with a copy to finally read. 


This book was amazing! I've read other stories about the Titanic but they've always been about the sinking of the ship itself and the people who died on that frightful 1912 night. While I do realize that is the important part of the whole event this book actually focuses on those who survived and what their life was like after the sinking of the ship. I was amazed at some of the lives these people lead after the sinking of the ship. Some obviously couldn't handle the the enormity of it all and ended their lives, others lived as the walking dead, some ended up having very successful lives, while others ended up in loony bins. I never gave much thought to those who survived before and since the majority of them were women and children and the time period they were from what that meant. In 1912 not a lot of women held their own finances and to lose their husband in the sinking of the ship meant more than just losing a loved one. There was also a lot of talk of the honor that someone deemed as a husband/father/brother getting the women and children in to the life boats first and not joining them. There isn't that required kind of chivalry anymore in this day and age so that put an interesting spin on it for me. Something else I found incredibly interesting is the amount of things some of these people brought on the ship with them. Since there are account from survivors you hear about the things that they lost in the ship from fancy dresses to multiple pearl necklaces.


I couldn't put this book down. I recommend this to anyone interested in the Titanic and really anyone interested in a good read. If you've read other books about the Titanic and the sinking of the ship I can guarantee this will be like no other.



Thursday, July 21, 2016

My First Challenge Box

My First Challenge Box

Scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed one day I came across an ad for The Challenge Box. Per their website The Challenge Box mission is:


  1. Use data to help people live longer and healthier lifestyles.
  2. To deliver a challenge every month that inspires people to take the next step.
  3. Create products that give people confidence they can set any goal large or small, and achieve it.

So that's all great but what is it I'm sure you're asking, right? The Challenge Box is a monthly subscription box that you get in the mail with challenges for you to complete in the month to help in your goals to lose weight. Each month it includes a personalized workout plan, workout gear, and snacks to help you reach your exercise goals. It works in tandem with the Fitbit that I'm slightly obsessed with these days so I figured, what the heck lets give it a whirl!

I signed up June 30, 2016 and was asked if I wanted my first box to be July or August. I was anxious to get started so I chose July thinking I would get the box in the next week or so. I just got the box today (July 20th) and was disappointed it took so long. I realize that I signed up the last day of June so I decided to give the whole subscription some slack and not think to harshly of it.

My personalized workout plan was given to me via their website and based off a series of questions I answered when I signed up. Questions like, how active do I like my exercises, how often do I work out, etc etc. This month my exercises were a Seated Row, Standing Bicep Curl, and Seated Abdominal Twist. The workout plan came with pictures and explanations and how often to do each workout in order to work toward my goal of losing weight. It's pretty tits.

The part of this that I think is fun is the challenge part. You get points for completely things in the challenge. For example, I get 5 points if I achieve 10,000 steps on at least 15 days this month (tracked via my Fitbit). Each month you can earn up to 100 challenge points and for each 100 points I'll get a reward in my next monthly box! Sweet right?

I kind of think July is awash cause I was patiently waiting for my Challenge Box to come before starting and now here we are at the end of the month already. So for August I'm really going to hit it hard and see if I can't complete all the challenges!

Here is what my first July box looked like:


Woohoo, a package for me!


Very nicely packaged.


Welcome page explaining the challenge points (These are also found in more detail under your account on their website)


SNACKS! Because I have no self control I ate these right away. (It was at least lunch time) These were amazing. So amazing I think I need to find where they sell these and buy more. My flavor was KETTLE, which is amazing cause Kettle Corn from the fair is my favorite. According to the back of the bag though they also have BUTTER, SEA SALT, WHITE CHEDDAR, CHEESY JALAPENO and SWEET CHILI. Being someone who watches calories I didnt think this was too bad (140) for a snack.


A soft case bag with straps to hold all my goodies. This bag is actually fairly big so it would be great for a gym bag... if I went to the gym. :)


MORE SNACKS! Okay, so also cause I have no self control I ate the Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Bar... this was amazing, but had a lot of calories (200) for a snack. I took a bite of the coffee bar and tossed it. I'm sure it's super good, but coffee flavor just isn't my bag. Plus I was already drinking Cocoa Cola today so I'm not sure how much caffeine my system really needs. The last one I threw in the cupboard to try later having decided that eating in full two of the four snacks was probably enough.


Motivational Poster. This was just a printed out motivational saying on a piece of glossy paper, but I taped it to the door in my office aways. 


Exercise gear! This is one of those thingys that you put underneath your feet and then stretch your arms out and stuff. In my personalized exercise plan they were using one like this for the bicep curls. I've never had one of these and am excited I now do so I can test out some of these July exercises.



Overall I think that this box had some cool things in it. Was it worth the $36.98 I paid for it... I don't know about that, but I'll give it a couple of more months before I terminate my plan.

Wanna try it? Get your Challenge Box here.

And that's a wrap.


Monday, July 18, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning (an Introduction to Logotherapy) by Viktor E. Frankl


The current Pokemon craze landed me at the library last Saturday. Not only to catch some Pokemon I didn't already have but also to check out the local library as I hadn't done so yet since moving here. I carry a list around with me of books I'd like to read in case I ever find my self at a sale. I don't remember where I came across this book and decided to add it to my "books to read" list but our little local library in Princeton Minnesota had it!

Man's Search for Meaning is a memoir of Psychiatrist Viktor E Frankl's time in a Nazi death camp between the years 1942 and 1945. In this book, he doesn't go into great detail of what happened to him but instead talks about the psychology of it all. He writes "suffering is inevitable and that avoiding suffering is futile." So in other words one should make meaning of their suffering instead of surrendering to it. Frankl walks you through each step of the psyche while being in a concentration camp and what your thoughts in turn meant for you at that time.

While this book is of the depressing nature, Frankl is very inspirational.  He was able to find meaning to every aspect of the horrid things he endured while in Auschwitz and other concentration camps he was a prisoner in.

I was hoping that this book would be more of a memoir than it was so I was a little disappointed in that fact. This would have been a good book to read for a psychology class in college.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen


I found Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen to be a fairly quick read. Great for a flight or day out on the beach. It was a bit on the silly side with some dark humor. I think that was the whole intent of the book so that's okay. This book kept my interest throughout and kept me guessing on what was going to happen next.

Joey is thrown from a cruise ship by her husband Chaz on their anniversary. Instead of dying, as Chaz had intended, however; she survived the fall and made it to shore with the help of a floating marijuana bale and the assistance of Mick, an ex-cop. Joey than makes it her live mission to screw with Chaz and make him wish he never laid eyes on her.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants a fast paced, fun, humorous book to read. I really enjoyed it.


Monday, June 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children



As much as I say in life never judge a book by it's cover I have to admit that it's the cover that made me pick this book. While the title is easily as intriguing it was ultimately the levitating girl on the front that drew me in.

Miss Peregrine's Home for the Peculiar Children is about a 16 year old boy named Jacob who has grown up on his Grandfathers tall tales of life after he escaped World War II. While in the beginning Jacob believes every last breath from his Grandfather as he grows older he started to believe less and less.  It's only when Jacob comes face to face with things from his Grandfathers past does he realize all the tall tales are true. There are a plethora of fantastic characters in this book, too many to get into detail. 

The best thing about this whole book (and series really... as there's two more books after this one) is that its a form of mixed media. The book is full of old photos that go along with the description of the characters. The story line and the description of the characters is so fantastic that it's amazing to be able to look at photos of real people.

I'd recommend this book (and series) to any reader. Once I finished this book I had to run out and purchase the next two immediately. *I've already read this one twice!



*UPDATE*
They have made this book series into a movie and the trailer was released today. Having read the series and then watched the trailer I would say that you should do one or the other. Read the books and skip the movie, or skip the books and watch the movie. The reason I say that is from the trailer they've changed a lot of major things from the book. Maybe watch the movie and THEN read the books if you haven't done so already. I can already tell I love the book series way better than the movie.

BOOK REVIEW: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


It's been a really long time since I've read a book that I couldn't put down. Not only was this book fascinating to read in its subject matter but so powerful and heart wrenching in its words and descriptions you can't help but live the story right along with the characters.

The main character Lina, is a 15 year old Lithuanian, who is arrested by the Soviet secret service along with her Mother Elena and younger brother Jonas. The are hauled like cattle in trains many away from their home and forced to work in prison camps.  Lina is an exceptional artist and uses her drawings throughout the story to not only help her cope with the situation she's found herself in but to try and get in touch with her father, who was taken as well but sent in a different direction.

I don't recall learning about Stalin growing up and the 20 million some people he murdered but after reading this book its really peaked my interest to learn more. Maybe I was sick that day in history class.

Between Shades of Gray is a beautifully written book about sacrifice, human endurance, and the will to live. I highly recommend this book for any age reader.



*Started 6.17.15
*Ended 6.17.15


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review: Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron



Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Chasing Francis is a story about a pastor who loses his faith. Not only does he lose his faith but he loses it right in front of his whole congregation. For fear of losing the church and his mind he goes to Italy to study the life of Francis of Assisi and try to reclaim his faith. There he meets up with his Uncle Kenny, a Franciscan priest and a group of friars. While he is in Italy he follows the path of Francis of Assisi. His journey takes him many places around Italy both physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

I really enjoyed this book. It seems more and more the church is how Chase, the pastor, sees it at the beginning of this book. Religion has become so commercial and fake. I was really happy to read that he was honest with his congregation. He lost his faith and he didn't know what to do.. instead of backing him up however. I was a little disappointed the elders of the church would send him away... but if they hadn't he might not have taken the trip to Italy and learned what he did. I haven't read much about Francis, but I have heard of him. This book really piqued my interest in him, as a saint. I would recommend this book to anyone, it's a very interesting read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Booksneeze Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.