Jul 212015

Here is the latest installment of books! As always, if you’ve read something lately that you love, let me know! I am always on the lookout for new titles.

1. A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back in Three Pines in book #2. This time, he’s there to investigate the murder of a very unliked woman who is mysteriously electrocuted in front of the whole town. But how did that happen and who did it?

All the characters from the first book are back in the second and I’m so glad. The curious little town is so quaint and the characters are so well-written it’s a joy to read, even if the books are about murderers!


2. The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

This book was on my “must read” list even before it was published. I was so excited when it finally came available at the library. The premise intrigued me — Angus and Sarah have identical twin daughters, Lydia and Kirstie. After a tragic accident, Lydia dies and they slowly try to rebuild their lives after this horrible event. The family moves to a remote Scottish Island and suddenly Kirstie is telling them that they got it wrong that day–that she is Lydia and Kirstie was the twin that died that day.

What is a parent to do? The book is so incredibly creepy on many levels. Each family member is slowly unraveling and clearly going insane and I can see why that would happen. Sarah has been noticing strange things and even before her daughter confesses that the “wrong” twin died, she’s already wondering if they got it wrong.

Their dog is acting strangely–treating the surviving twin the way he always treated Lydia when she was alive. How do you explain that? Kirstie (who claims she’s Lydia) insists she sees her sister and talks to her. Is it a ghost? A hallucination brought on by grief the little girl can’t fathom or explain because she’s so young? Personality traits in Kirstie are now presenting themselves as Lydia. Favorite toys, behaviors, reading ability–everything points to the girl really being Lydia but how is that possible?

“‘Kirstie is here again,’ she says. ‘She’s in my room. I don’t want to see her anymore. Mummy, make her go away.’ I want nothing more than for Kirstie to go away. And maybe Lydia too. I am frightened of both of my daughters, the two ghosts in this house, the two ghosts in my head; The Ice Twins, melting, one into the other…’I don’t believe what Lydia says, Mummy. She says horrible things.[pg 288]”

The book was creepy and gut-wrenching at times. Mostly creepy. I highly recommend this. I read it in two days.

3. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

I wanted to give this book 4 stars because I liked the characters and the story was different, but…the book could have been better.
What I liked: the story was different and interesting. Alice falls at the gym and hits her head, wakes up and finds that she’s lost the last 10 years of her life. She’s unaware that she has three kids, that she’s separated from her husband, and apparently a very different person at age 39 than she was at 29. Very interesting premise!

What I didn’t like: yet another book from this author where there are three women telling their story. The formula is tired and I’m over it. She needs to write differently. STOP! It’s annoying and I wasn’t as interested in the other story lines as I was with Alice. Also, for the first 30% of the book I was very impatient and irritated that we didn’t know why Alice didn’t have her memory. Maybe that was the point, but I didn’t like that part.

Despite all of this, I still enjoyed most of the book and I liked that there was almost this alternate universe going on–it kind of reminded me of the movie Sliding Doors.

4. World Without End by Ken Follett

Looking for a rip-roaring good time that takes place in medieval times? Complete with accusations of witchcraft, royal espionage, serfdom and the Black Plague. Then this book is for you. In all seriousness, this was a really good book. It’s long–1000+ pages–and sometimes a little slow, but overall it was a really good read. I loved the time period and the characters. It’s a book that spans a long period of time in the mid-1300’s and you follow the main characters as they try to survive in a difficult time.

It starts with Caris and Merthin as young kids, who are best friends and falling in love. The story follows them as they age and their careers “take off” and all the trials and tribulations they go through in England in 1340. Loved their story. Even Merthin’s brother, Ralph, the most evil person in the book you kind of like because his character is so well written and EVIL. Well done book!

5. Little Black Lies by SJ Bolton

I love this author! I discovered her last summer and read all her Lacy Flint books and loved them. This isn’t part of that series–new story, new characters and it’s really good. It takes place on the Falkland Islands. Sadly, I had never heard of them before this book and now I am absolutely fascinated and want to visit.

The main character is Catrin. She’s a diver and whale expert. The book is about young children who have been disappearing in the community and this brings up painful memories of the death of her two boys. The other main character is Rachel, the best friend who’s neglect lead to their death. Finally, Callum, Catrin’s on-again-off-again boyfriend. The story is told in such a unique way, from each person’s point of view, and the twists and turns were so unpredictable! The who-dunit was so well done! It had me guessing all the way to the last page. GOOD BOOK!

6. Bones are Forever (Temperance Brennan #15) by Kathy Reichs

I’ve read a few of the books in this series over the years, somehow not in order. If it sounds familiar, I believe there is a TV show based on the characters (Bones). I plan on starting at the beginning of this series and re-reading the ones I have read.

Despite reading it out of order, it wasn’t necessary. I never felt lost or confused. If there was a main character I didn’t quite remember the author did a good job of giving the cliff notes reminders. I enjoyed this book a lot. The main character, Temperance, is a strong female lead character and the story had an interesting combination of science and mystery that never felt over my head or too dumbed down.

The story is about a mysterious woman who checks into an ER because of excessive bleeding, they realize she’d just given birth, but she disappears from the hospital before being treated. With some detective work they find her apartment and sadly, the corpse of a newborn baby. But that’s not it, they find two more mummified corpses in the apartment. Thus the search begins for this “horrible monster” that killed her babies…except, is that what really happened? No spoilers. But it was a good and very fast read.

7. Us by David Nicholls

This was a very charming, heart-warming book. Douglas is in his 50’s and his teenage son is about to graduate from high school when one night his wife says that she thinks the marriage has run it’s course. This was completely out of the blue for the middle-aged scientist who thought everything was going great. The three of them are also about to embark on a summer long European family trip to celebrate before their son goes off on his own journey.

They go on the trip anyways, the wife being cagey about when she was leaving him and why. He thinks this is his last chance to keep the family together. The story is told in little vignettes instead of chapters and the story of how he met his wife and their life together is intertwined with the current day struggles and their European adventure. It was a REALLY good book. I liked it a lot and read it in two days!


Jul 012015

Saturday morning we got up and went to the downtown area of Astoria to get breakfast. We went to a Bistro that we’d been to in the past and were able to get a seat outside so Bella could join us. It was warm but a little overcast. Michael got the brisket and eggs. I got two eggs with bacon and it came with buttermilk biscuits.


Sadly the food wasn’t very good. It was really good last time but this time we were both really disappointed and won’t be going back. The coffee and the biscuits were the only thing good about breakfast. :(

The plan for the day was to go for a hike. I found one nearby, Gnat Creek. The description of it sounded nice and it said it was considered easy to moderate. The whole thing was 8 miles. After breakfast we picked up a sandwich at Subway and then drove north about 30 minutes to the campground where the trailhead was.



It was pretty easy to find and there was plenty of parking right at the trailhead. It was so muggy and humid! We climbed up the stairs and the trail quickly went deep into the forest and wound through the trees along the creek. The ground was really soft from hundreds of years of pine needles.



We hiked through the woods, setting a pretty quick pace, and then all of a sudden the trail ended! It turned out you had to cross the highway to pick the trail back up. Luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad so we didn’t have to wait long to cross. We got to the other side and the trail was winding through the trees and then all of a sudden we were at the Fish Hatchery.

On the other side of the hatchery the trail continued. It was getting much hotter out now and this part of the trail wasn’t shaded. We saw some wildflowers, lots of butterflies, and then the trail was back in the woods. Thankfully! It was slightly cooler in the trees. There were a lot of cool little bridges all throughout the hike and lots of different trails you could take.



We crossed a bridge and then all of a sudden the trail was going steeply up. Our heart rates were climbing as we climbed and we were both DRENCHED in sweat. Not from the exercise really, but the humidity. It was SWAMPY. That was the feeling for most of the hike. Hot and humid and gross. And I wasn’t wearing typically hiking clothes that wick the sweat away, nope! So I was feeling extra gross and sweaty.

We kept on climbing and it was getting hotter. Bella started doing weird stuff on the trail (it was exposed to the sun) like jumping off the trail and hiding under bushes. We figured she was too hot. We stopped a lot for water breaks but clearly it was time to turn around. We hiked back down the trail and found the waterfalls where there was a bench and we cooled off in the shade to eat our sandwiches.

It was a nice little spot for a picnic. Despite the name “gnat creek” it wasn’t too bad on the hike as long as you were moving. But once we stopped for the lunch break the gnats and mosquitoes and flies were really bad! And of course I forgot to pack bug spray. There was one gnat really bugging Bella and she kept trying to bite the air to get him.

After lunch we hiked back down to the hatchery, across the highway and then back to the trailhead.

We ended up hiking just under 5.5 miles. I burned 718 calories during the hike. It was a decent number! But I’m pretty sure I sweated out a few extra pounds just from the humidity.


The drive back to Astoria was slow. There was some nasty traffic jam and it ended up taking twice the amount of time but we eventually got back and cleaned up and then spent some time in the hot tub relaxing our sore bodies. There was another couple in the tub visiting from North Carolina and they wanted to tell us all about what they saw on their trip to Portland. :) I was just happy to be relaxing in the saltwater.


So one of the nice things about the hotel we were staying at was the free wine and cheese social hour they had every night from 5-6pm. After cleaning up Michael and I went down to check it out. Got some delicious cheese and crackers, some toast with cream cheese and smoked salmon on it and an Oregon Pinot Noir that I love. We sat outside on the patio with everyone else, enjoying the sunshine and view and tried to figure out what to do for dinner.



In the end we decided to get take out again. There were a few restaurants we’d been wanting to try but they were booked for the Saturday night. We didn’t plan ahead very well. So back to Fort George it was! This time Michael got a Cobb Salad and I got a cup of their clam chowder and the kid’s fish n’ chips. It was two small pieces of fish and just the right amount of food.


The fries were terrible so I didn’t eat them. Which was fine, who needs the empty calories. The clam chowder was pretty good. On our way to the restaurant we’d also picked up a bottle of Bogle Red Blend to drink in the room and relax.



Cheers! I’m glad I got the small portions for dinner. It was just the right amount. I had about two glasses of wine and called it good for the evening. We were both really tired after the long, hot day.


Sunday morning I woke up and had PLANNED on going for a run along the waterfront on the trail. Unfortunately when I took Bella out to do her business it was shockingly cold, gloomy and sprinkling quite a bit. That was a surprise! I hadn’t seen rain in the forecast. So I ended up running on the treadmill in the small hotel gym. They had a treadmill, exercise bike, stairclimber and weights.


I ran 2.55 miles on the treadmill with a few walking breaks and then called it good. The hotel offered a continental breakfast, too. It was the usuals–pastries and donuts, cereals, oatmeal, granola bars, bagels and English muffins, yogurts, fruit, fruit salad, juices, etc. I had some plain Greek yogurt with the fruit salad and an English muffin (and two coffees). It hit the spot.

One thing I forgot to mention, the hotel also offers free car rides to restaurants in this car:


I was kind of bummed we didn’t get a chance to take it! It’s so cute. Anyways, after breakfast we packed up the car. The original plan was to drive south to Seaside and let Bella run wild on the beach but the forecast was stormy and rainy for Seaside so we ended up skipping that.

That was a bummer but all in the weekend was a nice getaway and I was glad we could bring Bella to such a nice place! I really recommend the Cannery Pier Hotel if you are ever in the area.IMG_4089

On our way out of town we stopped by Flavel House and I took some photos. It’s the house that George Flavel built in 1883. It was such a cool looking house on the outside! Next time I’ll have to do the tour of the inside.



I also walked around the Sunday Market. They shut down a few streets in the middle of downtown Astoria for a Sunday Farmer’s Market. I bought some cherries, blueberries and raspberries and a few other goodies and then we hit the road back to Portland.