Book Review #62: “The Casual Vacancy”

The Casual Vacancy

Image Credit:

It took me quite a while to read this book. I purchased it at Barnes & Noble at least two years ago, if not longer than that. I think I had a gift card to spend, because the paperback had the bargain price of $5.98.

I’ve been interested in this book since it was published in 2012. Having been a massive Harry Potter fan, and this being her first novel for adults, I had full confidence that I would enjoy this book just as much.

Poor Al. He’s heard me gripe and complain and whine about this book for weeks! But, I finally finished the book earlier this week after he went to sleep. It took way too long for me to finish 503 pages, but I DID IT!

Rowling is still one of my favorite authors, by the way. But, this book doesn’t make my list of favorites.

It’s not a bad book, but it’s really dense. There are SO MANY characters. It made my head spin initially. I get it – She’s focusing on multiple families, all who are involved in some way with the parish council. Also, the book could have been condensed. In my opinion, 503 pages for this book was too long. She could have certainly told this particular story in 300-400 pages.

As an American, I’ve been fascinated with England, British life, and so on for several years. Getting this fictional perspective of a parish council, different communities, and challenging decisions was really interesting. Overall, the cast of characters were diverse, and interesting. There was a lot more drama than I was expecting, but it wasn’t too distracting.

The book dragged quite a bit through the first half. I almost gave up – I was struggling with the characters, and it was a lot of mundane exposition.

However, around Part Five or Part Six, the action increased, and I actually started to enjoy it. Toward the very end, I was on the edge of my seat – The last 75 pages or so were really exciting. Definitely dramatic, and more than a bit of tragedy, but it felt like a thriller at that point. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I was slightly sad when I got to the last page.

Again, not my favorite book by Rowling, but I was happy I plowed through to finish.

3 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Tag #63: 3-2-1 Quote Me! – “Food, Glorious Food”

I love Rory’s quote challenges! He’s the author of A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! He tagged me to complete this one.

Thanks for picking me, Rory!

Here’s the link to the post where I was tagged/challenged:

Rules: 3.2.1 Quote Me!

  • Thank the Selector
  • Post 2 quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day.
  • Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’

Note: Although this is the topic for today there is no specific deadline to it, meaning you can answer as and when.

Topic: “Food Glorious Food”

If music be the food of love, play on. - William Shakespeare

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

Let's face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me. - Audrey Hepburn

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

Tag – You’re It!

  • Jenna – Bookmark Your Thoughts
  • Laurie – Work, Play, and Chardonnay
  • Bibi – Bibi’s Book Blog

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #115: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter A)

Image Credit: The Book Raven

I found this awesome book challenge through Tiana, who writes for The Book Raven! Tiana writes some of the most in-depth, intriguing book reviews. Check her out!

My goal is to post about one letter every week!

Here’s the link to her original post:

Memorable titles that start with the letter “A”:

A Girl Named Rosa

A Girl Named Hillary

A Girl Named Rosa: The True Story of Rosa Parks

A Girl Named Hillary: The True Story of Hillary Clinton

  • I was immediately intrigued by this new series of books from American Girl. They’re designed for younger readers, but I still like reading them.

A Stand for Independence

A Stand for Independence: A Felicity Classic 2

  • Despite not having the original, beautiful illustrations, I love the historical books from American Girl. Felicity is one character that is close to my heart, because her story is set in Colonial Williamsburg!

A Winning Spirit

A Winning Spirit: A Molly Classic 1

  • Molly has always been my favorite American Girl.

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

  • I struggled to read this book in middle school, but eventually re-read it in college. I think it’s time to read it again.

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American Wife

  • This is my favorite Curtis Sittenfeld book. I re-read it three times over the course of one summer.


Angels & Demons

  • As much as I despised the ending, I love Robert Langdon’s character!

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Angela’s Ashes

  • Another good book that I read when I was in college.

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Animal Farm

  • I think I read this in high school? Orwell’s fiction feels closer to the truth now. *shudders*

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

  • I’ve always loved Judy Blume.

Books starting with “A” that I wish to read:

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Accident: A Day’s News

  • I stumbled upon this book recently whilst scanning Goodreads. I haven’t read a lot of fiction about Chernobyl, so I’ll seek this out at my local library.

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All the Missing Girls

  • Al bought me this book for Christmas. I started it, fell into a reading slump, and stopped. Now, I’m ready to start fresh.

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All the President’s Men

  • Having seen the movie multiple times, I’m long overdue to read the book about the events that thrust Woodward and Bernstein into the spotlight.

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All the Rage

  • I just learned about this book from another blogger – Destiny, I think. Hopefully my library will have it.

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American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst

  • This book is in the stack on my nightstand!

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Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1)

  • This book is on the top of my nightstand stack. This will probably be the next book I review.

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And Then There Were None

  • I love Agatha Christie, so I hope my library has a copy.

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Anna and the French Kiss

  • Several bloggers have read this book, so I need to satisfy my curiosity.

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Anne of Green Gables

  • I tried reading Montgomery’s books as a kid, but was never able to get into it. I think my mom has the whole series!

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  • Several bloggers have been raving about this book, so I’m adding this one to my list. Plus, I love the synopsis.

I love this challenge so far!

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter A? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #129: July Goals

BeautyBeyondBones 11

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

Hello, July!

Al recently reminded me that Christmas is less than six months away. It’s wild. Every year gets faster!

Here are my goals for the month of July:

  1. See Ant-Man and the Wasp.
  2. Curb my spending.
  3. See Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
  4. Submit our adoption application to Old Dominion Greyhound Adoption.
  5. See Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
  6. Spend at least two hours cleaning the garage.
  7. Make sure the Household Bills Spreadsheet is updated before the end of the month.
  8. Spend at least three hours working within Evernote.
  9. Meal plan as much as possible for the month.
  10. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2018.
  11. Update my TBR.
  12. Start another writing challenge.
  13. Plan a special challenge for the month of August!

Here’s the breakdown:

See Ant-Man and the Wasp.

  • We can’t wait to see this! Hopefully next weekend.

Curb my spending.

  • I went a bit overboard during the month of June, so I’m placing similar spending restrictions on myself like I did during the month of May. This will give me time to go through my closet again, my bookshelves, and our garage!
  • Goals: (1) No more new clothes, (2) no more new books, and (3) no more American Girl items.

See Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

  • I’m looking forward to taking my mom to see this one!

Submit our adoption application to Old Dominion Greyhound Adoption.

  • Now that our HVAC work is complete, we’re ready to submit our application! We’re excited to add a furry member to our family.

See Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

  • This is a tradition of ours – We’ve seen almost Mission: Impossible movie in the theaters since we’ve been dating.

Spend at least two hours cleaning the garage.

  • There are still way too many boxes in our attached garage, mostly my stuff! It’s high time to go through as much of it as I can.

Make sure the Household Bills Spreadsheet is updated before the end of the month.

  • I’m determined to keep up with this spreadsheet on a monthly basis.

Spend at least three hours working within Evernote.

  • I really liked my introduction to Evernote last month, so I’m determined to spend more time with it and get more comfortable with it.

Meal plan as much as possible for the month.

  • I have several recipes that I want to try this month!

Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2018.

  • After my rousing success with my first Camp in April, I’m so excited to be participating in Camp again!
  • Look for another Camp NaNoWriMo recap at the beginning of August!

Update my TBR.

  • It’s that time again! Look for my updated TBR post very soon.

Start another writing challenge.

  • I’m hoping to have the first post ready tomorrow!

Plan a special challenge for the month of August!

  • I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m partnering with a special blogger friend to make a fun challenge for August!

Do you have any goals for the month of July?

If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #128: June Goals Recap

Concrete road

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

June was quite busy, but less hectic than some other months! The biggest news is we FINALLY have proper ductwork, and two new HVAC units! Perfect timing for the typical summer heat waves!!

Here’s the link to my June Goals post:


Here we go!

  1. Attend P.E.O. State Convention. — Accomplished!
  2. See Incredibles 2. — Accomplished!
  3. See Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. — Accomplished!
  4. Work on a goals list with Al for the remainder of 2018. — Did not accomplish.
  5. Update the Household Bills spreadsheet. — Semi-Achieved.
  6. Write at least 1,000 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo endeavor. — Accomplished!
  7. Download Evernote. — Accomplished!
  8. Host a “vacationing doll” from Ohio! — Accomplished!

Here’s the breakdown:

Attend P.E.O. State Convention. — Accomplished!

See Incredibles 2. — Accomplished!

  • Al and I went to see it on Saturday, June 15th.
  • It wasn’t necessarily better than the original movie. However, it was worth the 14-year wait.
  • If you’re a fan of the original movie, it’s worth seeing it in the theaters. We also liked the short that preceded the movie.

See Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. — Accomplished!

  • We saw the movie on Sunday, June 24th with our friends Mike and Shana.
  • Despite some of the criticism, I really like what they did with this movie. I shut my eyes a few times – Some of it was pretty scary!
  • I personally recommend seeing it. I love the franchise!

Work on a goals list with Al for the remainder of 2018. — Did not accomplish.

  • This didn’t happen. Oh well!

Update the Household Bills spreadsheet. — Semi-Achieved.

  • I started playing catch-up last weekend, and will hopefully bring it to conclusion this weekend. Long overdue!

Write at least 1,000 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo endeavor. — Accomplished!

  • Word count, as of May 2nd: 33,507
  • June 16th: Added 623 words
  • Word count, as of June 16th: 34,130
  • June 23rd: Added 339 words
  • Word count, as of June 23rd: 34,469
  • June 29th: Added 250 words
  • Word count, as of June 30th: 34,719
  • Total words written: 1,212 words!

Download Evernote. — Accomplished!

  • I signed up for the website during the weekend of June 15th. I didn’t download anything, for now. But, I really like it so far! I love the layout, and I can see myself using it as another helpful tool with my writing.
  • Here’s the link to my latest Writing Adventures post: Writing Adventures #2: Discovering Evernote

Host a “vacationing doll” from Ohio! — Accomplished!

Final Thoughts

  • I was able to put Accomplished next to six out of eight goals. Awesome! I’m so excited, and proud of myself.
  • The one goal that was Semi-Achieved: I made progress, and I’m happy with it!
  • The one goal that I did not accomplish: This wasn’t a huge priority. I like the idea of it, but it may not happen for 2018. No worries!

What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of June?

Come back tomorrow to see my July Goals!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #62: Spring Cleaning Book Tag

Spring Cleaning Book Tag

Image Credit: Fiction No Chaser

I was tagged by Teagan and Jess, of Fiction No Chaser, to do this hilarious book tag! I laughed so hard while reading their post, I nearly cried.

Here’s the link to the post where I was tagged:


  • Please link back to Daniel @ Page to Page
  • Respond to the scenarios
  • Tag 5 people (or however many you like)

Spring Cleaning Tag

It’s time to make your bed, but you’re going to have some friends over later and want to pick the perfect book to place on your nightstand for them all to see that you’re “reading”. Which book do you choose?

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Image Credit: Goodreads

  • Camino Island by John Grisham. Most of my friends know that I love Grisham’s books.

Oh no! The house needs dusting, but you just can’t put that book you’re reading down! What book would you buy on audio just so you could continue the story while cleaning?

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  • I’m with Jess. I’ll choose podcasts over audiobooks any day. I love true crime podcasts, as well as several from NPR (Fresh Air, This American Life, Ask Me Another, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!Suspect Convictions).

Darn it! The ceiling is leaking! Turns out Mass-Market Paperbacks are the best things to soak water up! Which popular book do you use to soak up the water?

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Image Credit: Amazon

  • The entire Twilight series.

Bathrooms need a good scrubbing, and your 2007 Cosmos are a little outdated and need replacing. What book do you place in the bathroom for some light reading for when people need to take care of business?

  • I agree with Jess, again. I don’t read in my own bathroom.

Family is coming over, but you have no idea what to make for dinner! You read somewhere that tearing up the last chapter of a book whose ending you hated and sprinkling it in a casserole dish makes for the perfect meal! Which book do you choose?

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Image Credit: Amazon

  • Jess and I are kindred spirits, apparently! I would totally shred Allegiant, in a heartbeat.

Organization is key, right? When it comes time to organize your bookshelf, you realize you have enough room (and money) to get three new books! Which books do you buy?

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Image Credit: Barnes & Noble

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Image Credit: Amazon

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Image Credit: Amazon

  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Finally, some peace and quiet! But, before you can relax, you realize you forgot to send your Aunt a thank you gift for the lovely “ADULT LIFE FOR DUMMIES” book she gave you for Christmas (maybe she’s trying to tell you something?). What book do you send to her to show her how much (this is sarcasm) you appreciate her gift?

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Image Credit: Amazon

  • Hehe, I love Teagan’s answer! The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.

Tag- You’re It!

I loved this tag, so much! I laughed so hard as I was writing this post.

Thanks again for tagging me, Teagan and Jess!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 5 – Norfolk Tides Baseball Game)

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Image Credit: Ticketmaster

The Norfolk Tides are our home baseball team!

The Tides’ home, Harbor Park, opened on April 14, 1993. This year is it’s 25th anniversary!

The Tides are a minor league team in the Triple-A International League. Prior to 2007, the Tides were affiliated with the New York Mets for 38 years. For the last 11 years, the Tides have been a farm team for the Baltimore Orioles. Harbor Park can hold 11,856 people!

The long-time mascot is Rip Tide. He’s hilarious!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

And, yes, he has a baseball for a nose.

Not too long ago, the Tides changed their color scheme to green, black, orange, gray, and sea foam, and added a seahorse mascot.

For more information, check out this link: Norfolk Tides

On Tuesday night, we enjoyed a night of good food, a few drinks, great conversation, and the game with several of Al’s work colleagues, and the law firm that his company has on retainer. The law firm has one of the boxes at the park, and they offer tickets to any employees who are interested around once a year. Al scored an extra ticket, and asked if I wanted to go!

I can’t remember the last time I went to a Tides game. I think it was with Al, and I know we weren’t in a box! I felt super fancy.

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This was the Tides’ long-standing image/marketing. Image Credit: SevenVenues

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An aerial view of Harbor Park, which sits next to the Elizabeth River. Image Credit: The Virginian-Pilot

We left the game in the eighth inning, mainly because we knew the traffic would be bad once the game ended. The score was 3-2, with the Tides leading, when we left. I checked the final score yesterday, and that’s where the score remained! Go, Tides!

Do you follow baseball?

What are some of your favorite summer pastimes?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂