Wednesday, August 31, 2016

September 2016 Goals

September is upon us, y'all, which means my schedule is about to ramp right back up at work. (Who am I kidding - it already has!) While I do have some goals that I would like to accomplish, I want to give myself a bit of wiggle room this month just in case "me" time becomes a bit sparse, which it often does in September. Let's hop right into the goals, shall we?

Reach the 18-20 mile mark in my marathon training - We're coming into the final stages of training which means it is time to put some serious mileage down. I've reached the 15 mile mark and have felt pretty great about my training thus far, so I'm hoping to make another really solid push this month so I can feel great come race day in October!

Read 7 Books - I have quite a few books picked out for this month! Although it is going to be fairly busy month for me, I do think that this goal is possible. I've been really in the reading groove lately and have been connecting so well with the online reading community which has encouraged me to read even more! I am currently in a readathon which will help boost my numbers and encourage me to set aside time for reading, and I'm also buddy reading with my pal Shannon for one of these titles! All of which make me think that I'll be able to reach my goal. Here are the books I'm hoping to read in September (PopSugar Reading Challenge prompts are in italics):

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
The first book you see in a book store

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
A book that was an Oprah's Book Club selection

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A book that is being made into a movie in 2016

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
A science fiction novel

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
A National Book Award winner

Mr. Smith Goes to Prison by Jeff Smith
A political memoir

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A book recommended by a family member

And that's all I'm going to put on myself this month. I think these are totally attainable in one of the busiest months of the year for me, as long as I stay diligent and consistent! I'll be updating you come October. (And I honestly can't believe that we're a month away from it being freakin' October. WHAT.)

What are your goals for September?
Click 'Read More' to see my update on my August Goals!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Elephant Awareness Month | The Elephant Keeper REVIEW

Sadly, August is coming to a close and with it, Elephant Awareness Month. :( However, I am very excited to share my review of The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson with you all! I really, really enjoyed this book. I was a little nervous about choosing a fictional story about elephants for my Elephant Awareness Month pick, but it turned out to be so wonderful - heartbreaking, but wonderful. I'm not going to spoil anything about this book in this review so if you're hoping to read it you can read this review safely!


The Elephant Keeper is about a stable boy named Tom. Set in the 1700s, Tom's rich employer buys two elephants in the exotic animal trade. Tom is charged with caring for these two elephants, despite the fact that no one in Europe has really studied these animals in any capacity. Throughout his time caring for these two elephants, he creates a history of elephants from his own observations and develops a magnificent relationship with both of these creatures.


This book, as I said, was wonderful, yet sometimes painful to read as an animal lover. As much as I hate to know that the exotic animal trade was as wide spread as it was for hundreds of years, it is needed to be recognized in order be invested in this story. And you do get very invested in this story and the characters that are in it (mainly, Tom and the two elephants which Tom names Timothy and Jenny). There are turns in this story that leave a sinking pit in your stomach and your heart in pieces (may or may not be tearing up just thinking about the story!) which really makes it a great story.

As a heads up - there is a scene involving sexual assault in this book and the repercussions of this assault are quite severe. I did not see this coming at all which was an interesting curve ball, but I believe it was handled well for the time period that it is set in.

The chapter structure of this book is a bit strange - the first third of this book is the History of the Elephant, and then the rest of the book is Tom's journal, which was a very strange choice, I thought. I think that if this book was structured a bit better it would have really enhanced an already great story, and it leaves me wondering about the true potential of this book overall. I think that the plot and story was enough to save the book despite its structure, but if other books were structured in a similar fashion I don't think they would do quite as well.

Overall, I thought this story was so lovely and was written in a language that I connected with easily but did not make me fall out of the time period it was set in. I think Nicholson did a really nice job with this book and I would love to hear what his process was in researching for it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a lover of animals, is interested in stories regarding the understanding of exotic (for the time period) animals, with sprinkles of the human story scattered throughout.


Monday, August 29, 2016

RYBSAT (ReadYourBookshelfAThon) #9 TBR!

Guess what guys! I'm participating in ANOTHER READATHON!

But, Riley - didn't you just end a readathon on Sunday?

Yes I did. And I loved it. And much like DJ Khaled, I want ANOTHA ONE. I didn't know if I was going to want to give myself a bit of a break after Bout of Books or if I would feel comfortable hopping right back into a readathon, but after much consideration and generally just loving how much the readathon has prompted me to read, I thought WHY NOT. Let's hop right in. So I'm going to participate in Round 9 of the ReadYourBookshelfAThon (also known as RYBSAT) which is running from midnight on Wednesday, August 31st to Wednesday, September 7th (though it hasn't been clarified if that means the last day to read is 9/6 or 9/7.... I'll let ya know).

Anyway, today I'm sharing my TBR for the readathon! It is much smaller than my TBR for Bout of Books #17, mainly because I'm no longer on vacation and this is one of the busier times of year for me work-wise and I wanted to keep it as realistic as possible. So I'm breaking this up into a couple categories - what I know I can finish, and what I'd IDEALLY like to finish by the end of the readathon.

The idea of RYBSAT is to choose a point in your bookshelf and read as many books in a row as you can. I have a section of my shelf that I keep all of the books that I've chosen to fulfill the PopSugar Reading Challenge prompts and I stack them in the order of which ones I want to read during each month. These are a chunk of the books that I was hoping to get through during the month of September! I'll include their PopSugar prompts I am aiming to cross off with each title.


She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
A book from Oprah's book club
465 pages

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Illustrated by Jim Kay
A book that is being made into a movie in 2016
216 pages

(I'll only move onto these books if I complete the books above)

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
A science fiction novel
599 pages

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
A National Book Award winner
320 pages


I have linked each title to their GoodReads page so make sure to check those out if you are interested in learning a little more about each title that I have selected for this readathon. I have also done a TBR video with quick synopisis of each title so give that a watch if you want a bit more detail for each book!

Again, I'm anticipating a fairly busy work week with little to no down time during the day to read, but hopefully I can get at least those first two titles done during RYBSAT! I will again be vlogging my experience with this readathon and of course sharing it with you all! I will also be doing a progress update post like I did for Bout of Books, and will be giving updates on my Twitter page as well! If you're participating in RYBSAT let me know in the comments because I would love to follow your progress and cheer you on! <3

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Happy Place

Have you ever had a moment when you stop to realize how perfect things are? Where you're in your favorite place in the world? Where you spending time with people or creatures you care about? Where you want to take everything in and stay as present as possible so you can remember every little detail? The noises of the wind, the way the sun hits the leaves, the smell of the woods, the playfulness and curiosity of your furry companions....

...that was my day today. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

September 2016 Plan with Me + August Flip Through!

Today on the channel I'm sharing my September Plan with Me video! Can you believe it's almost September? I really can't. I am sad. Summer don't leave me. Anyways, this month I took the planning approach of "this is one of my busiest times of year so things are going to be REAL lackadaisical in my Filofax" - no frills, no trackers, no nothing. Just straight up calendar and to-do list planning. KICKING IT OLD SCHOOL. If I find that I want more to my planner this month I will add it in, but I didn't want to take the time to put in a component of my planner that I'm not going to have time to utilize! Anyway, I hope you enjoy today's video and I hope you have a fabulous weekend! :) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bout of Books #17 Daily Progress Updates

Hello lovely friends! If you don't know by now, you probably don't follow me on any social media platforms because I haven't shut up about it over the last 36 hours, but I am participating in round #17 of the Bout of Books readathon! To prevent from sharing a billion update posts of my daily progress throughout the readathon, I thought I could just write one post and edit it throughout the week. I will pin this post to the top of my Twitter page for the time being, so if you're interested in coming back to check my progress you can find the post easily. Without further adieu, here is my progress!

DAY 1 - Monday, August 22nd

Books read today: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (334 pages)
Pages read today: 334
Books completed today: None

DAY 2 - Tuesday, August 23rd


Books read today: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (55 pages), Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (59 pages), and Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (180 pages)
Pages read today: 294 pages
Books completed today: 1 - Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Daily challenge: Mix n' Match Challenge (Choose 10 books, flip open to a random page in each book and write down the first word you see, then craft a sentence using those 10 words!)

DAY 3 - Wednesday, August 24th

Books read today: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (199 pages), This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki (320 pages), Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (23 pages)
Pages read today: 542
Books completed today: 2 - Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin & This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
Daily challenge: #Shelfie4BoutofBooks Challenge

DAY 4 - Thursday, August 25th

Books read today: Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut (324 pages) & Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Pages read today: 339
Books completed today:  1 - Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Daily challenge: Titles in the Tabloids Challenge (Create a tabloid-like headline that describes the book you are currently reading in the readathon)

DAY 5 - Friday, August 26th

Books read today: Summer Days & Summer Nights (80 pages) edited by Stephanie Perkins & George by Alex Gino (143 pages)
Pages read today: 223
Books completed today: None - slow reading day!
Daily challenge: Book in a Song Challenge (Pick a book that you've read during the week and relate it to a song)

DAY 6 - Saturday, August 27th

Books read today: George by Alex Gino (52 pages), The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (17 pages), & Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (74 pages)
Pages read today: 143
Books completed today: 1 - George by Alex Gino
Daily challenge: No challenge today!

DAY 7 - Sunday, August 28th

Books read today: Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (132 pages) & The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (44 pages)
Pages read today: 176
Books completed today: 1 - Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Daily challenge: No challenge today!

Total pages read: 2,051
Total books completed: 6

I am vlogging my experience and my reactions to the books that I am reading throughout the week which you will see pop up on my channel and this lovely blog sometime next week so keep an eye out for that! I am also giving periodic updates over on Twitter so if you're really curious on how things are going you can follow me over there! I hope everyone has a fabulous week and if you're participating in the readathon that you're having fun and crushing those books! <3

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bout of Books #17 TBR!

Hello everyone! I am here with a very exciting announcement - starting this evening (tomorrow morning?) at 12:00AM and ending next Sunday evening at 11:59PM I will be participating in the 17th Bout of Books readathon! This is my very first readathon but I've recently picked up a whole slew of awesome books that I am super excited to read and it just so happens that this readathon falls on the week of my vacation where I will be spending most of my time alone/hanging out with my pups so LOTS of time to read!

If you're not sure what a readathon is, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like - you read as much as you can within a set period of time. There are often challenges that take place throughout the readathon (reading prompts, Instagram challenges, creative challenges, etc.), sometime there are themes that you have to adhere to throughout the readathon (genre themes, length themes, etc.), and sometimes there's a set number of books you must hit. This readathon is pretty laid back with it's main objective to read more within the seven days than you do in your normal day-to-day life and while there are challenges and chats you can participate in, they're all completely optional (though I'm pretty sure I'll be participating in it all because... why the hell not?).

My TBR (to-be-read) pile for this readathon is fairly.... ambitious? I created this list going in with the impression that I don't really have plans during my vacation. I'm house/dog sitting for my parents and will be on my own for the entirety of this week so I will have SO MUCH TIME on my hands so I'm thinking I can get through most of these. The majority of these books are in the 300 range, but I do have a middle-grade novel, a book of short stories, and a graphic novel in the pile so I'm thinking that's going to make things a bit easier! Anyway, without further adieu, here is my TBR pile for Bout of Books #17!

George by Alex Gino
195 Pages

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
320 Pages

Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut
324 Pages

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
379 Pages

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
389 Pages

Summer Days & Summer Nights Edited by Stephanie Perkins
384 Pages


If you'd like to see me attempt to sum up these videos in 5 words each, check out my Bout of Books #17 TBR announcement video below! I've also included links to each one of the books' Goodreads pages above, so if you're curious to see reviews and ratings, just click on the titles to get a better sense of what people think of each book. If you would also like to follow me on Goodreads and track my progress throughout the week, check out my page! I'll tweeting along throughout the week, and also vlogging my readathon experience so you'll get to see it all. I strongly encourage you all to get involved and read as much as you can this week! Now to patiently await midnight to get some pages in....

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Bout of Books

Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer 2016 Book Haul!

I.... bought a lot of books this summer. I mostly blame it on my discovery of the world of BookTube (the side of YouTube that discusses reading an reviews books). I've always been one to drop money on new books and have always been a lover of reading (I mean... there really isn't much better than the smell of a fresh new book and bookstores are a definite front runner for my happy place). I'm constantly asking for book recommendations and when I stumbled upon BookTube I found hundreds of people just giving me book recommendations for fun. Basically, I've been in heaven this season finding so many new books I want to read and I went a tad crazy on the book buying front. Anywho, click play to watch me freak out over my new stack of books! I look forward to making more bookish videos on my channel!
Goodreads links to the books discussed in this video:

We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
The 8 Mistakes of Amy Maxwell by Heather Balog
Amy Maxwell & the 7 Deadly Sins by Heather Balog
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
George by Alex Gino
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dallaira
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jack Kristoff
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Adieh
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
These Broken Stars by Amie Kauffman and Meagan Spooner
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Elephant Awareness Month | Cute Elephant Videos & Fun Elephant Facts

We are already somehow halfway through August and I've been loving immersing myself in elephant videos, books, charities, and just overall awesomeness - I hope you all have been as well! Today I'm going to share a small handful of elephant facts and videos so we can all learn a little bit about these amazing animals and also bask in how adorable they are!


Elephants love the water and are actually very skilled swimmers! Seeing videos of elephants swimming and playing in water is always such a joy for me. Their happiness is so apparent when you see them splashing around! Here's an adorable video of two Asian elephants bathing in Cambodia:


Elephants express emotion similar to humans and can come very attached to the elephants in their herd. They can express distress, happiness, and they even cry. They can remember and mourn lost loved ones many years after their death, and they can remember elephants and even people if they are reunited with them after many years. Daphne Sheldrick (of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) has many stories of reuniting with elephants after they return to the wild and it is so heartwarming! Here's a little behind the scenes video of the DSWT Nursery:


Elephants can feed up to 16 hours a day and can consume up to 600lbs of food! That is super epic and makes me feel like Ron Burgundy commending Baxter on eating a whole wheel of cheese in Anchorman. The DSWT posts videos of feeding time for their elephants all the time, and some of the older elephants even know how to hold bottles with the trunks and feed themselves - SO CUTE! Click play on the next video to see!
And then, just for fun and because Elephant Awareness Month is the best day ever, here is an adorable video of a little baby elephant playing with birds. It almost makes you want to cry of happiness! I hope you all are enjoying these elephant posts and I will be sharing more with you over on my YouTube channel next week! <3

Monday, August 15, 2016

Vlog: Another Evening at Gillette Stadium (August 11, 2016)

My dad invited me to watch the first Patriots pre-season game with him so OF COURSE I said yes and OF COURSE I had to vlog it! It was such a fun time hanging out with him. It was a HOT night, so we were basically trying not to pass out from the heat the whole time and there were some definite differences in attending a pre-season game vs. attending a regular season game. Firstly - we sat the whole time, where usually the people who are in the section our seats are stand the whole time. It was of course a bit more low-energy on the field (these teams are really trying to conserve their star players and make decisions on who they are keeping and who they are cutting) but this totally translated to the crowd. The good things are that we had a total blast hanging out and the Patriots WON! 

I hope you all enjoy this vlog as much as I enjoyed making it! <3

Friday, August 12, 2016

Elephant Awareness Month | Awesome Elephant Conservation Organizations

Today is WORLD ELEPHANT DAY! So to celebrate, I'm sharing with you all three wonderful organizations that dedicate themselves to the conservation of wildlife and especially elephants! Reading about these organizations brought such joy to my heart that these awesome people are doing such amazing things for elephants and other animals that aren't able to speak for themselves. Hopefully you'll discover some awesome organizations through this video and maybe you'll want to support in some way in the future!

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee -
The David SheldrickWildlife Trust -
World Elephant Day -

I hope everyone has a wonderful World Elephant Day! :) <3

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Books I Want to Re-Read

In the past I've never really been one to re-read books. I've always been one to believe that there are too many amazing books out there that I haven't read, why would I waste my time reading books I've already read? And then I signed myself up for the PopSugar Reading Challenge this year, and there was one dreaded prompt - A book you haven't read since high school. I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed it was on the list of prompts. I wanted to use the challenge to discover new books that I hadn't heard of before, not read books I've already read!

As I was packing earlier this summer to move into a smaller space with Brett, I knew it was time to say goodbye to some of the books that had been sitting on my shelf for years. As I was going through each title I really asked myself, Which of these titles do you have absolutely no intention of picking back up again? and Which ones can you picture yourself at least flipping through again? The question was surprising, but I really do have quite a few books that I loved reading so much that I kind of want to revisit again - something I had never really felt before - and it really helped me decide which books I would be okay with passing off to a new home and which ones I couldn't bear to part with.

I recently completed that dreaded PopSugar prompt (I went with The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in preparation of the Netflix movie release) and I was so happy revisiting a story I already knew and loved. It made me so happy to sit down and read this beautiful book that the very idea of re-reading more of my beloved favorites excited me! I have quite a few titles on my shelf that I know I want to re-read in the near future, and I thought I'd share a handful of them with you today!

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I mean, I wouldn't be a product of my generation if this wasn't the first item on this list! I grew up with Harry - I read the first book when I was 11 years old and I read the last book when I was 17 years old. I was the same age as Harry and the trio with each book I picked up and because of that, I could relate so well with these characters who were coming of age (albeit in a magical world, but that's neither here nor there). I've been a fan of this franchise for so much of my life and I know I will continue to be as I get older as well. While I don't own the entire series yet, I'm buying the illustrated editions as they release (they are GORGEOUS) and re-reading the series that way. If I decide to have a family one day, I know I'll share these stories with my children and hope that they love them as much as I do.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this book for the first time in 9th grade at age 14. I remember it was assigned as summer reading for my Honor's English class in high school and while it did take me quite a bit to get through, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Scout grappling with understanding a world that is much more complex that it seems when you're a child. I often cite this book as being my favorite, but I haven't read it in over 10 years and some of the details of this title have become quite fuzzy. I'm interested to see how I enjoy it as an adult reader vs. a teenager, as I'm sure there is so much I missed when I was reading it the first time through.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I believe I first read this book in college (though I'm foggy on what year I did read it), and it's just one of those books that when you pick it up you just can't put it back down. The story of this boy who is trying to find answers that his father - who passed away in the September 11th attacks - left behind is so enthralling and interesting that you feel like you are just as desperate to figure out the mystery of the key just as much as the main character. Foer has a way of writing that make it very easy to slip into the shoes of the main character which is always so crucial for me to really enjoy a book.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This is my most recent read, completed in March of 2015 when my family and I went on vacation. This story is adorable and hilarious and really quite adventurous as well which made it a perfect read for a trip that we were going on. The narration is so light and easy but the story is so wonderful and I get an instant feeling of happiness when I look at this book on my shelf. I think this is one of those books that would just feel good to hop back into, and it's actually in the process of being adapted into a film which I am VERY excited about (with rumors of Helena Bonham Carter being involved!), so this would be perfect to revisit before seeing the movie.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This was assigned in my English class my junior year of high school and this is just one of those 20th century classics that is so much fun to read. This was one of my favorite assigned readings and a really great glimpse back into the roaring twenties. Again, it's been about 10 years since I've read this novel so the details of it are a little fuzzy around the edges so I really would love to refresh my memory of the story and see it from the perspective of an adult reader instead of a high school student.


Those are a quick handful of books I'd love to re-read and as I was building this list I thought of several more titles I would love to revisit one day. Perhaps I'll make another list in the future for more books I'd like to re-read because I'm sure I'll start finding more and more books that I will fall in love with!

And if my own feelings toward re-reading weren't enough, one of my favorite BookTubers, BooksandLala, recently posted a video on why re-reading is enjoyable and different reasons why you might want to pick up a book for a second time. She actually had the same feelings toward re-reading as I did before she started reading books, and now she re-reads all the time! If you're considering re-reading a book but maybe aren't entirely sure if you should or WHY you should, give the play button on this video a little click and Lala will give you a slew of reasons to revisit your favorites!

What books would you like to re-read?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mixtape of the Moment: SUMMER JAMS 2016

I've been finding a lot of really fun upbeat music this summer which I think perfectly fits the mood of the warmer weather. I've recently discovered the running feature on the Spotify app (I'm honestly not sure how long it's been there) that syncs your steps per minute to the beats per minute in a song and then creates a playlist based on your current listening trends. You can imagine - with marathon training - that I've been finding some really great stuff on my training runs. As a result, I've built a Summer Jam playlist that I'm pretty proud of! It's the perfect mix (in my opinion) of old and new music that's upbeat, funky, light, and all around fun. Press play and see if you can find anything that you want to jam out to for the rest of the summer!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Vlog: The Cursed Child Release! {July 25-31, 2016}

On this week's vlog I take Brett on a surprise date to get ice cream and watch the sunset over the valley which was beautiful! I also make another trip up to New Hampshire to see my family where I ran my half marathon training run then floated in the lake and ate friend clams with my parents. I also (of course) stayed up 'til Midnight on July 31st for the release of The Cursed Child! It was delivered to my Kindle and I may or may not have read it all within 24 hours.... #oops. I hope you enjoy! :)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 2016 Goals

Happy August, everyone! Alas, it is the last month of the summer and the last month before another crazy busy year begins. I've really enjoyed the summer and am not looking forward to seeing it go, but I'm feeling like I'm just about ready to take on the year. These next few weeks are critically needed but once they pass I'm hoping I'll be in a good place to take on the 2016-2017 academic year! Now, onto my goals for the month...

Read four books - I have four books I want to read this month, and I'm actually already reading all four of them! I have a vacation at the end of the month and I am planning on reading until my eyeballs fall out. I can't wait. This month I'm hoping to finish reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (I'm listening to the audiobook on my commutes), The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson, Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Register for the Green Mountain Marathon - With how good I'm feeling in my training lately, the time has come to officially register for the Green Mountain Marathon. It's always a great (and scary) feeling when you're officially registered and really lights a fire under you. I'm looking forward to this fall and hoping it's my best marathon yet!

Get special events for first two months of the semester ready to go - This is a work goal - I'm responsible for our special events calendar that is planned by our office so I would REALLY life to get all of September and most of October good to go before September 1st, so I'm able to just focus on working with my students - the most important part of the job! I'm pretty sure I can make it happen. Just gotta stay focused!

Complete a painting - I haven't painted in a good long while and I figure my vacation would be the perfect time to pick up the brush again!

WATCH AS MANY OLYMPIC EVENTS AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE - Guys. The Olympics officially start tomorrow. And I am SO EXCITED. The summer games only come around once every four years and I love them so much that I really want to watch as much as possible before they're over yet again. I'm especially excited for my favorite events - the gymnastic and swim meets, the track and dive meets, and all the sports you don't typically see on TV like fencing and weight lifting and synchronized swimming and the marathon, of course! I cannot wait for the events to get started!

And those are my 5 (yikes) goals for August. I'm really looking forward to having this month to gear up for the school year and to squeeze every last drop out of summer that I can! I hope everyone has a fantastic August and make sure to click "read more" to get an update on my July goals!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Elephant Awareness Month | Book Club Selection - The Elephant Keeper


August is the month where we can celebrate these beautiful creatures, learn more about them, what we can do to enhance their conservation, understand the struggles that this species has faced over the years, and just overall know what we can do to ensure their place on the planet. I'm so excited to celebrate this month for the second year now here on the blog and over on my YouTube channel and I hope you will join me in raising awareness of the need for conservation for elephants! If you'd like to know more information about how you can get involved, check out World Elephant Day online. I always have a link to their page on my blog under the "Community" section of my sidebar - just click the button with the elephant! :)

Like last year, I wanted to select a book to read through August that has elephants as its central focus so I can learn a bit more about them. Last year I selected Love, Life, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick (review can be found here) which was an excellent memoir of her time raising orphaned animals in Kenya with her husband David (founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust). This year I decided to go with The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson - a fictional novel set in 18th century England about a boy who cares for elephants and learns form relationships and communicate with them.

"England, 1766: After a long voyage from the East Indies, a ship docks in Bristol, England, and rumor quickly spreads about its unusual cargo—some say a mermaid is on board. A crowd forms, hoping to catch a glimpse of the magical creature. One crate after another is unpacked: a zebra, a leopard, and a baboon. There's no mermaid, but in the final two crates is something almost as magical—a pair of young elephants, in poor health but alive. 
Seeing a unique opportunity, a wealthy sugar merchant purchases the elephants for his country estate and turns their care over to a young stable boy, Tom Page. Tom's family has long cared for horses, but an elephant is something different altogether. It takes time for Tom and the elephants to understand one another, but to the surprise of everyone on the estate, a remarkable bond is formed. 
The Elephant Keeper, the story of Tom and the elephants, in Tom's own words, moves from the green fields and woods of the English countryside to the dark streets and alleys of late-eighteenth-century London, reflecting both the beauty and the violence of the age. Nicholson's lush writing and deft storytelling complement a captivating tale of love and loyalty between one man and the two elephants that change the lives of all who meet them."

I've already started reading this book and I am really enjoying it so far. I'm excited to hear more about Tom's story, and I'm pretty sure this book will probably make me sob by the end. I will be reviewing this title at the end of the month, but I would love to have you all read along with me (it's currently $1.99 for the Kindle edition)! Let me know if you've read this book or if you'll be reading along with me this month in the comments!

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 2016 Plan With Me + July 2016 Flip Through

There's a bonus video on my YouTube Channel today! Because it's the first of August, I thought it would be appropriate to share my August plan with me today instead of waiting until Friday! I've been trying a few new things out in terms of weekly spreads which I have actually been really enjoying with my slower schedule at work. I've been finding that my dailies weren't exactly being used so instead of wasting paper on dailies, I've switched over to weekly spreads to save trees! A bit odd for me as I'm usually a bigger fan of dailies. I've also tried something new for my monthly spread and habit tracker. I'm interested to see how everything works!