Category Archives: about me

Peace Corps Trainee


This is my sister, Hannah. She joined the Peace Corps and is in Swaziland, Africa. She just arrived last month. I love reading her blog, so I thought I’d share!

800 Days of Swaziland

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I am a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT). Before you’re a volunteer you’re a trainee and I’m pretty happy with that. We are staying in Matshapa, Swaziland and everything around us is so beautiful. The dirt is red. And I mean bright red. It covers everything and anything it can get to with this Tuscan sun color that could put a real Tuscan sun to shame. Its so cool, until its in my water bottle. I see mountains in every direction I look with houses in all it’s crevasses. The birds are loud here. Like a crow with a megaphone.  But there songs and laughs are beautiful. The mornings are cold and the days are hot. I laughed, as a Minnesotan, when they said its gets cold in Africa but they weren’t lying. Layers are important.

We eat rice and potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with some sort of meat…

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divergent, insurgent, and allegiant…



I LOVED THESE BOOKS!  I bought the series for my daughter and ended up reading them myself.  I would recommend reading all three and THEN seeing the movie(s).  The first two books were my favorite.  I did not like the ending of the third book, so that was my least favorite.  I wish there was a fourth…. great books!

Goodreads describes the book:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

InsurgentGoodreads describes the book:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


AllegiantGoodreads describes the book:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

orphan train…


orphan trainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline was a great book.  The book goes back and forth between the past and the present, between Vivian and Molly.  Molly, a foster child, helps Vivian clean out her attic.  They go through each box and Vivian remembers a story about each item.  As they go box through boxes both Molly and Vivian bond.  It was very moving and I would recommend reading this book.

Goodreads describes the book:

  The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.

to kill a mockingbird…


mockingbirdHarper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird, was honestly one of the best books I have ever read.

It was truly amazing to read about racial inequalities and social justice (and injustice) from a child’s point of view.  The innocence of their thought process, not swayed yet by bigotry and community pressure, was incredible to read.  These children judged the people around them by their actions and asked questions if they were confused.  They wept when people were wronged simply because of the color of their skin.  If we all could only take lessons from this book.

I was also amazed that an author could capture a child’s voice and thoughts so vividly.

I applaud this book… I simply loved it.

Goodreads describes the book:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story, by a young Alabama woman, claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.

dirty little secret…


DIRTYAnother great bargain book has been read!  I read Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu yesterday.  I would absolutely recommend it, not only because of the price ($1.99 through a email), but it was a great book!  I literally could not put this book down.

The book is about a teenage girl that lives with her mother who is a hoarder.  I’ve watched many TV shows about hoarders, so I could completely picture their living conditions (although, the author also does a great job of describing it – no need to watch bad TV to enjoy the book!).

The girl has spent her whole life hiding their “secret” from the rest of the world.

I am trying to get my daughter to read it next.  This book can easily span all age groups.

Goodreads describes the book:

Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.

With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy’s desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen’s life will have readers completely hooked.

(For those who have finished DLS, there is an “AFTER” chapter on the website Contains many spoilers, so only for those who have read the book).

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.

i should clean…


Fold Laundry or Read?

It’s no secret that I am a reader.  I love to read.  I go through slumps when I don’t read much and I also go through periods that I can’t read enough.  Right now, I can’t read enough.

I really should clean.  I have dishes in the sink that I could (should) be washing.  I have laundry that I could (should) be folding.  But, I am reading.  I’m so excited to have a few days off of work.  It’s Christmas Vacation!  Normally, I would find a painting or DIY project (read more about that here), but I am just not in the mood.  I. Want. To. Read.

I took a break from reading today to take my kids shopping.  They have Christmas money that they like to spend on after Christmas sales (gotta love a sale!) and I took another break to help my daughter make a cake (although, she did all the hard stuff… I was just the oven and kitchen-guide).   Besides that, I’ve been reading.

Oh, and right now, I am taking a break from reading… just to update my blog (I have my priorities!).  But, I really should clean.

I have organizing I could (should) be doing.  I have beds that I could (should) be making.  Although, we are well into the evening… beds don’t need to be made now.  We’re just going to unmake them soon anyway!

Well, I’m off now to clean (or to read).

(I should really clean…)

the handmaid’s tale…



The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was an incredible book.  I read this book in 2 days — I couldn’t put it down.  Now, I can’t stop thinking about it.

This would be a really great choice for a book club discussion:

What would you do if you were a handmaid, a wife, an aunt?  Or even, a commander?

Goodreads mentions the book as “funny” but I did not find one humorous thing about the book, so take their synopsis with a grain of salt.  Horrifying, yes.  Funny, not so much.

Goodreads describes the book:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.