Top Ten Books On My Summer To Be Read List (2013)

It is just about summer time and it is Tuesday.  That means it must be time for the Top Ten Tuesday with the Broke and the Bookish where I write about my top ten books on my summer to be read list.

I feel as if many of these have been on my spring or winter or fall or even last summer’s TBR list.  Nonetheless, I will include repeats, especially because I am just picking the ten books that I not only want to read, but some of them are books that I have at or near my possession, so I should actually get around to reading them in the summer (I am learning that want to read, and have a chance to read are really two different beasts).

  1. Paper Towns by John Green.  The Child lent it to me and Patrick has read it and now it is sitting on our coffee table staring me down.  It is quite literally next up on my list once I finish the book I am currently reading.
  2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth.  I read Divergent last week and it was so good, so I am pumped to read Insurgent and the other sequel once it comes out.  I have a request in to the library to get the ebook of it, but there were about 10 people ahead of me.  At least I know I will acquire it at some point soon.
  3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.    I watched the movie on a plane last year and loved it, then picked the book up at a used book store a few months ago, but still haven’t gotten around to reading it.
  4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia.  This is another book I borrowed from the Child.  I want to know what the hype is all about.
  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  I really liked The Kite Runner, so I have high hopes for this book, which is also residing somewhere on our shelves.
  6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  I downloaded this to my Kobo last week.  I keep considering picking it up, especially since it comes so highly revered and recommended.  I hope I like it better than War and Peace.
  7. Where We Belong and/or Baby Proof by Emily Giffin.  I read two of her books last summer, so they are delightfully light and summery reads, I just need to borrow/acquire them at some point.
  8. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  I know, it sounds silly and is yet another YA novel on my list, but this does sound super cute.
  9. Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.  I know, these are on my list every season and have been repeatedly.  I do really want to try to read them.  And I know someone who has them.  I just need to pick one up and get going on that.
  10. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jona Jonasson.  The title alone draws me in! Patrick and I both want to read this, so I am sure we will acquire it during the summer.  Nothing better than a spunky old man escaping his own party and going out on what sounds like an epic adventure.

What are some of the books on your summer to be read list?  Any recommendations?

Top Ten Best Beach Reads

It is my Birthday!  That means that it is almost summer and what better birthday present did my lovely husband give me, but my very own Kobo to welcome me to the 21st century style of reading. 

This all fits well with this week’s list with the Broke and the Bookish… My top ten best beach reads.  Here is the catch… I feel like I did this last year.  So, instead of the top ten books to read on the beach in general, I am tweaking the list to include books that I have read on the beach or by the pool (even if they aren’t really beachy sorts of books).

  1. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  Such a light and yet strangely interesting read.
  2. A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen.  This is such a lovely little story we picked up at a train station in London that I read in entirety by the pool in Rome.  It makes me want to take Jeter busking, but something tells me that won’t work out quite as well.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I know, weird choice.  It was legitimately a really awesome book that I just happened to bring with me to the beach.
  4. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I read this series in entirety last summer and it was better than I remember it.
  5. Gray Matter by Gary Braver.  A neurosurgeon who writes about his faith and medicine and how he chooses to pray for his patients.  Interesting and seemingly rare perspective.
  6. Marley and Me by John Grogan.  This was one of the funniest and most heart-string pulling books I have read.  It still makes me want a dog.
  7. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.  This book was laugh out loud funny to me no matter whether I was reading it in the car or on the beach.
  8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  I read this throughout one summer at camp, including on a trip to the beach or supervising at the pool, so I figure this counts.  One of the best books ever, even if it is a wee bit long!
  9. The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.  This was my series to read a few summers ago and it was so fun at taking you to all kinds different worlds with all kinds of bigger meaning.
  10. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult.  Like Jodi Picoult can do, this book brings up all sorts of controversial issues and has the surprise ending and all that good stuff.

I do have to mention an honourable mention for beach reading – my MCAT study book.  Not the best book and not an honourable mention, but it makes for a good story.

What are some of your favourite beach reads?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

This week’s photo challenge with the Daily Post is called “escape.”

It seems very appropriate given I am just starting a week of vacation.

For me an escape can vary depending on my mood.  Even a field trip to the coffee shop can be an escape on  some days.  I am, however an ocean girl, so my favourite escapes involve wandering or residing near a large body of water.  I love the peace that comes from that.

If you wanted to get super specific, my ideal escape would be with a book on a beach, surrounded by trees and forest with  a miraculous latte in hand (not sure where it comes from, perhaps an isolated beach coffee shop?).

The photo I chose today is one from one of our adventures to PEI with Patrick’s family.  I am quite looking forward to that trip this year.100_5306

Some Song I Used To Know

Do you ever have one of those songs that annoy the pulp out of you?

It was on the radio so often that you have developed a dislike for it.  Or you never really liked it, but now it is everywhere?

I feel like some stuff gets really overplayed and that I grow to hate it when I really enjoyed it initially.

Every once in awhile, I remain in love with an overplayed song.

Does anyone remember the “Hey There Delilah” phenomenon.  Oh boy, did Patrick grow to hate that song.  And I still loved it.   That led to a few heated debates.

More recently, there was Gotoye’s “Somebody I Used To Know.”  I never actually hated the song and neither did Patrick, but the sheer volume of remixes was enough to make me want to their everyone’s synthesizers and music editing apps and smash them to bits.

One day, we were driving in Jag in the summer and we were almost back to home-home when Patrick, getting frustrated with the heat in the car and the driving (this was when Jag’s air conditioning opted to work on a random basis, usually at half power after hitting a random bump and then shutting off again) demanded to hear something he knows.  I thought he demanded specifically “Somebody I Used to Know,” which I thought was strange, but I found it on the iPod.  He got all confused because he didn’t know we had that song.  I got all confused because he demanded it. Then, we belted along with the chorus and figured out where the misunderstanding came from.

I saw this video awhile ago.  It kind of fits my feelings on the song… Except I like it.  But it was overplayed.  And most people really don’t know any of the words but the chorus.  I showed it to Patrick last night because he apparently missed out on it when it went viral.  You might have too, so here it is for a laugh.  It is worth the 5 minutes.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is entitled Changing Seasons.  Although my favourite season is Fall, mainly because of all of the fabulous colours, all of them have their bit of charm and unique beautiful, especially at that cusp where things are just starting to become different.

Fall: Some of the trees and leaves on my walk home from work.

Fall: Some of the trees and leaves on my walk home from work.

Winter: I was in Ottawa a little bit after winter started last year.  Although it wasn't the precise beginning of the season, you can still see a few leaves lingering from the end of the season before and fresh snow of the new start to winter.

Winter: I was in Ottawa a little bit after winter started last year. Although it wasn’t the precise beginning of the season, you can still see a few leaves lingering from the end of the season before and fresh snow of the new start to winter.

Spring:  Nothing Says Spring more than fresh green, sunshine and a walk in a park.

Spring: Nothing Says Spring more than fresh green, sunshine and a walk in a park.

Summer:  Church Picnic back home happens right at the start of summer and commemorates for me the start of all things summer.

Summer: Church Picnic back home happens right at the start of summer and commemorates for me the start of all things summer.

Check out the other entries for this photo challenge here!

Long weekend wrap up.

Today, to celebrate the last day of Labour Day weekend and quintessentially the last day of summer (if one does not count the remaining days until the official end on September 21) and, of course, the beauty of a long weekend not on call, we are taking a “family trip” to the trailer.  Please note, none of the people we are going with are our biological family.

The heaping lot we are travelling with and spending the day with are people that we have known for years.  Some of whom helped raise me.  And some of whom are my best friends.  They are pretty awesome people.

I am grateful for sunny late summer days, lakes to swim in and good books to read, not to mention delightful company and good food.  It will be a good day.

To wrap up… A lovely song by the Dashboard Confessional.  Throwback to my emo teen angst years.  It seems appropriate, in a way.

Awesomeness with my ENTIRE program

Tonight was the first official Resident Fun Night of Awesomeness (trademark).

Translation, all of the residents from my program went kayaking.  ALL of us and our spouses.

Further translation… That totals 6 people.  Four residents, two spouses.

Yes, my program is small, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I am used to being in small things.  My “entire” family growing up consisted of three people (including me).  My “entire” undergrad class was 6 people (including me).  And now, there are four people in my program.

I enjoy knowing a few people well than a lot of people not so well, so it works.

I have never been kayaking before, so this was a treat.  Patrick and I shared a double kayak.  My control issues shone through, but I still think we did pretty well.  And the trip was a hit, even though we all would up getting there later than planned.  It was good to hang out for a bit and laugh and be active. 

Afterward, we had a BBQ at sunset on the dock.  Food, the beauty of nature and new friends… Awesomeness.  Just like the name of the night.

We think we may just do it again sometime!

Tall ships

The beauty of home call is that you can sometimes have time to do things you enjoy while waiting for pages.

Today, Patrick and I went on an adventure to the waterfront for the Tall Ships festival.  We had a chance to climb on board a few of the tall ships, listen to pipers and drummers and all sorts of other musicians and wander the beauty of the waterfront and weave our way through nauseatingly thick crowds.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure.

The crowds.

A ship passing by.

Patrick pretending to be captain of the ship.

The boat that was used in Pirates of the Caribean.

The first ship we hopped.


The frog on the front of a boat.

M Family PEI Trips… Patrick’s side of the story…

The trusty spouse and guest blogger… Much unchanged from his formative years going on family vacation, Patrick still takes great joy in capturing shellfish.

Here we go, my first official guest post.  Patrick is here to start telling his side of the story.  The starting point… PEI weeks… AKA the M family “reunion.”  His explanation of why it isn’t all as crazy as I make it out to be.  The first of a few of Patrick guest posts, where he looks at the other side of the craziness that is our life and other relevant matters.

First, allow me to introduce myself. I am Patrick, Trisha’s wonderful (if you believe all the lovely things she has said about me) husband. I must take this opportunity to say she is an amazing wife and best friend, much more than she’d ever take credit for!

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll tell you what PEI means to me starting at the beginning… 17 years ago- long before I even met Trisha and likely before I had any interest in girls at all! I’ve gone to PEI with my family almost every summer since with the photographic evidence to prove it but more on that later. Don’t worry I’m’ not going to give a year by year account or anything. That would be difficult anyway since they all tend to blend together and/or I forget half my childhood as Trisha likes to joke. It’s true that I don’t always remember my childhood vividly but I like to view it as remembering the highlights!  I may not remember the first time I stepped onto the red PEI soil but I do remember the countless days of fun I’ve had on it.

As Trisha has alluded to in previous posts my family on my Dad’s side is a small army and proud of it. As one of my Uncles during last year’s trip said “We are like the Kennedys but without the money”. Most of the M family is based in one city in NB but there are people who come as far away as Ottawa with kids in tow. When it comes to the annual trip to PEI we M’s take the expression “Go big or go home” seriously. When you have 40- 50 people staying in the same place each year it has the potential for lots of fun or controlled chaos as Trisha might describe it.  By same place I’m not only referring to PEI itself, I’m referring to the same set of cabins/big house/chalets just above a beautiful mostly private beach. I think that one of the reasons I enjoy going back to PEI every year now that I’m older is that it’s like going to a place where time has stood still. Granted the  accommodations have been modernized to include nice (but unnecessary in my humble opinion) Chalets with satellite, Wi-Fi etc and even the landscape of the beach has changed a bit as cliffs have naturally eroded. However, for the most part it looks the exact same as when the M clan first descended upon the area which is amazing to me in our ever-changing world. In fact, one of my Aunts traced the M family tree and discovered that the first place the M’s came when we first immigrated from Ireland was none other than PEI. So you could say in a way we are returning to our roots!

A small rendition of the M clan in 2005.

The week spent in PEI with my brother, sister, parents and everyone was one of if not thehighlight of every summer. The beach was basically in the back yard only a stair case walk down from the cabins we stayed at pre-chalets. We basically had it all to ourselves besides a couple other small families and people much farther away on the public side. The beach as pictured below  is beautiful with the perfect sand for building sand castle villages, sand sculptures, holes that become hot tubs, burying people and/or being buried. The ocean is also teeming with creatures such as jellyfish, fish, crabs, lobster, mussels (all of which were caught at one time) and more. I know many people wouldn’t see swimming with sea creatures especially crabs and jellyfish as that appealing but as a child and to be honest even now it was very cool to be swimming with these weird creatures in their home.   As young kids myself, brother and many cousins would enjoy catching large or small jellyfish in buckets and showing them to our aunts/uncles/parents to oohs and ahhs. The same can be said about crabs, but before you think our parents should have been given a visit by social services, it was all under the watchful eyes of the many adults around us. We were shown and encouraged to pick up the crabs the proper way so they couldn’t get us with their claws and although the crabs did get the best of us a time or two no one was ever seriously hurt. One cousin figured out the crabs would grab unto a stick if you put it under them so that became our go-to method of catching them.  The crabs were particularly plentiful one year and we caught at least a dozen of them. I wish we could say we released every creature or crab we caught but a few of those crabs were left in the bucket a little too long and ended up being thrown into a bonfire later that night.

A random jelly fish beach find.

Speaking of which, bonfires have always been awesome and something we did a couple times during the week on the beach complete with marshmallows, s’moores, hot dogs and impromptu family sing-alongs which are hilarious with the different colorful characters in the M family.

Today I revel in the natural beauty of beach and ecosystem that is the Atlantic Ocean. I was actually disappointed  this year when I didn’t see many jellyfish or crabs……that is until I stepped on a crab which let me know by a good pinch to my foot that it didn’t appreciate being encroached upon. In my defense I didn’t even see it as my eyesight is much worse than when I was a kid and only needed reading glasses. I asked my Mom (whose eyesight isn’t that much better) if she could see the crab which she couldn’t but she felt it give her the same greeting and we think we saw it scurry away. I tried to get my older brother who doesn’t wear glasses to come take a closer look but he oddly refused.

Buried in the sand. Because really we are still all just big children.

We also spent many of our nights at the “big house,” a large farm style house, where a good chunk of crew stays for the week. In the kitchen/dining room we pig out on junk food and  play card games, board games (like Scrabble which my Aunts always whooped me at), and the fun but hazardous “Spoons”. Some years my very creative Aunt from Ottawa organized a radio style play we all had a part in, or a game show such as “Who wants to be a millionaire” but with questions about members of the M family. Not to mention the amazing themed treasure hunt/game Trisha described in yesterday’s post.  Nothing is more awesome as a child then running around with your cousins getting clues from pirates or gypsies while being shot at by water balloons or guns in search of a treasure that you actually dig for on the beach that included toys, money, candy or all of the above.  Now I enjoy watching the children run around and the adults being characters (as if they weren’t already a character in their own right).  I’m hoping to be one of the characters one of these times.

Besides spending a lot of time at the beach and the big house, there were other traditions we would do every year which included horseback trail riding (we sometimes took up every horse), deep sea fishing (filled up a boat and sometimes even had to split up and go on another one), amusement parks, mini-golfing and one of my personal favorites the drive-in movie!  I love the drive-in because its classic, old fashioned fun. It’s another case of stepping back in time even though drive-ins were replaced be movie theatres before I was born. Many of the other group outings have been stopped or replaced by other things but the Drive-in is one that has never stopped.  Of course, with a group of our size we couldn’t just show up at places last minute and would often book/arrive early- the drive-in being no exception.  We showed up more than an hour before the gates opened, however not only to park our cars in the first row- but to get the best seats in the house- the area in front of the screen where all of us plunked down together in camping chairs, blankets or the small grandstand to watch it together. Since we had a long wait we would get out of the cars parked in the line-up we would amuse ourselves by having impromptu games of catch. We also sometimes walked to the mini-golf course next door and played a round because we had that much time. But it was worth it and all part of the experience.

I was very worried this year when there was a good chance Trisha and I would miss out on part or most of the Drive-in since we couldn’t leave till after she got off work. But we made it in record time with a little luck, very quick pit stops and maybe a little speeding too. I wouldn’t have been heartbroken if I missed the movies they were showing-it was the whole experience M-family style that I really didn’t want to miss.

The same can said about the entire M PEI vacation. When my siblings and I got older we naturally started working in the summers so we no longer go for the entire week. However, we always make sure we got the weekend off to join everyone because experience has shown on the rare occasions I couldn’t attend that  a summer without the PEI M vacation just doesn’t feel right to say the least.

We are no longer children but we have had the fun of watching the next generation of cousins grow up before our very eyes. For example, I remember nervously holding a baby around a bonfire (not too close to the flames though) who is now a seven year old boy who tries to stay up even when he is really tired and sneak snacks late at night (with Trisha’s help). I could go on and on about PEI and everything it means for me but I’ll try and sum it up. I think PEI is so magical and special to me because it’s a place where I have done/do some of my favorite things with some of my favorite people-my family.

Of course when you are born and raised in that environment all of the above is very normal and since we know each other so well its easy to forget how many of you there is. So I really shouldn’t have been surprised when Trisha was overwhelmed on her first PEI M vacation (or any other full-fledged M occasion for that matter) last year. I regret now how disappointed/upset I was when she didn’t have as much fun as I assumed she would.  I think part of it was that being the hopeless romantic I am, I had dreamed about having a wife to share the experience with as I walked upon the beach- I just hadn’t realized the culture shock she might have.  Don’t get me wrong though Trisha exceeds the dreams I had and loves my large M family even more as time goes by. I happily walked the beach and enjoyed the ocean with Trisha this year. Nevertheless, I was still pleasantly surprised and overjoyed that she enjoyed a lot more this year and may want to go there for even longer next year. I’ve also long imagined bringing my future children along for the ride and look forward to doing so in the not too distant future.  But I don’t think that we will be staying in the Chalets that are fully hooked into the world. No, we will be experiencing it how it’s meant to be in the basic but adequate cabins with no noise but the waves crashing below…  and hopefully a large group of people chatting and playing games together.

Family vacation

I survived the weekend of M family reunion PEI goodness.

Actually, it was much better than last year.

I think it is because I know everyone better.  And I better understand family dynamics and that I am not obligated to do every single thing with everybody every minute of the day.  I learned to take a break and sit on the deck alone with my book and read.  And go to bed when I am tired, not when everyone else does.  And… It helped that the weather on Saturday was the worst they had all week, so we had the beach almost to ourselves for a few hours… A nice break.

The rows of picnic table for the whole lot of them to eat together at.

I left the weekend feeling a pleasant level of tired.  And a minimal level of overwhelmed.

In fact, I told Patrick that next year, I could even try to get my vacation during that week so we could go for the whole time… Or at least more of it.

I can’t fully explain the turn of events.  But whatever happened, it worked for me.  And for him.  He was thrilled I had fun this year.

The M family event is something of epic proportions.  Aside from them going out full force to the drive in (bonus was that we somehow made it in time for Ice Age despite us leaving after work), they have all kinds of other group traditions, including a game/treasure hunt and a games night…  Not to be confused with one another.

The game/treasure hunt is a themed series of games/treasure hunt for all of the kids in the family.  Many people play some sort of role in the game and almost everyone comes out to watch.  I missed the game last year.  I have to say, it was crazy… In an awesome way.  It was ninja themed.  So, the kids went through ninja camp with various stations, including boxing, knife throwing (butter knives at watermelons), stealth walking (on bubble wrap), blindfolded person detection and sumo wrestling.  It was a riot complete with costumes.

Knife throwing.

Learning to kickbox.

Sibling rivalry.

The key to walking quietly on bubble wrap… Not applying any pressure on your feet.

Sumo wrestling!

Games night is a time when everyone piles into the “big house” and plays games with a fervor I have yet to see repeated.  I came in second in a rendition of “mess your neighbor” (a card game).  I vacated to bed, but apparently I missed an extremely vicious game of spoons.

We ate a bunch of seafood, including lobster.  In fact, I got given a whole stash of lobster eggs… YUM!  And BBQ was involved.

My favorite part, however is the beach.  I love beach.  Who doesn’t love beach.  The weather may not have been the sunniest on Saturday, but we still hit the water, played in the sand and then the water some more.  Bonus was that it was sunny, so my SPF 45 held out nicely (though, it failed me on the drive home today).  Everyone else left the beach because it was cold and getting darker and the “game” was going to start in an hour.  Patrick and I stayed and we won… The waves suddenly got bigger, but the jellyfish went away.  We even went back to the beach this morning for another walk before we left. 

The beach.

It was a great weekend.  Including the family portion of it all.  I am so happy we had decent weather, great waves and lovely people to share it with.  I am actually looking forward to next year.