Writing Prompt #179: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 14)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 14 – Your favorite kiss

Ellie and Carl Fredericksen, Up (2009)

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I’m already tearing up. The first 10 minutes of Up evoke so many emotions!

It’s clear Ellie and Carl were meant for each other. I smile when I think of their wedding day and this kiss, because it’s a sweet, wonderful moment of happiness and pure joy.

I won’t spoil it for those who may not have seen it, but you’ve been warned. Have tissues ready.


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #175: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 11)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 11 – Your favorite love song

“Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King (1994)

Image result for can you feel the love tonight

I’m pretty sure this is one of the first songs I memorized from a Disney movie. My parents still have The Lion King soundtrack on CD, and I have fond memories of listening to it and singing along with my mom in the car.

This is one of those songs that gives me chills at the start. I’m pretty sure I learned to play it in orchestra class at one point, too. It’s hard to believe this year is the 25th Anniversary of the movie!


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #17: Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks

Image Credit: NewInBooks

Nicholas Sparks was my absolute go-to for romance novels for a long time. I own nearly every one of his books, and he was a defining author for me for several years.

In fact, I did my college senior thesis on his books. I studied the perceptions of love and romance from female readers. I would like to eventually publish it!

Born on New Year’s Eve 1965, Sparks was the second of three children. The family moved frequently while his father was pursuing graduate studies in Minnesota and California. Eventually, they settled in California after his father became a professor. On a track and field scholarship, Sparks majored in business finance at Notre Dame.

He married Cathy Cote in 1989, and they have had five children, three sons and twin daughters. He started writing in his early college years. His first publication was as a co-author in 1990. The book was titled Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding.

While selling pharmaceuticals in the early 1990s, Sparks wrote The Notebook. Literary agent Theresa Parks offered to represent him after finding it in her agency’s slush pile and liking it. She secured a $1 million advance from Time Warner Book Group in 1995. After its publication in October 1996, it made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week.

He lives in New Bern, North Carolina, where he donated $9 million to New Bern High School for an all-weather tartan track. He and his wife amicably separated in 2015, and subsequently divorced.

As of October 2018, he has published 22 books. He has published one book nearly every year since 1996, with two books being released in 2003, as well as 2005. Eleven books have been New York Times best-sellers. His most recent book is Every Breath.


A Walk to Remember (1999)

A Walk to Remember (Hardcover).jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I honestly can’t remember if this was truly the first Sparks book I read. But, I loved it, and the movie adaptation (2002) was very good. It was also incorporated into some of our Sunday School classes and youth group activities.

The Notebook (1996)

The Notebook Cover.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I think I read this after the movie adaptation (2004) came out, but this is one of Sparks’s books that I treasure and re-read frequently. The movie adaptation is one of the best that’s ever been made, hands down.

Nights in Rodanthe (2002)

Nights in Rodanthe.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I felt a special connection with this book, since Rodanthe, North Carolina, is only about two hours south of where I live!

I wanted to love the movie adaptation (2008) so badly, especially since I’ve visited the house that’s featured in it multiple times, but it wasn’t that great.

Safe Haven (2010)

Safe Haven Cover.png

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This book was a hard read for me. I myself was a part of an abusive relationship for several years, and this book brought back several memories. Thankfully, by the time I actually read it, I was several years into dating Al.

I’m pretty sure we watched the movie adaptation (2013) together. I liked it a lot, despite the subject matter.

The Last Song (2009)

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Image Credit: Goodreads

I waited for what seemed like FOREVER to get my hands on a copy of this from the library! I devoured it on a car trip either to or from Florida.

Most people hated / loathed the movie adaptation (2010), but I liked it.


What about you? Have you read or seen any of Nicholas Sparks’ work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #64: “Forgetting My Way Back to You” (ARC Review)

Forgetting My Way Back To You

Image Credit: Amazon

Karina Bartow asked me months ago to be a part of her blog tour, and I happily agreed! I chose to review her new book Forgetting My Way Back To You.

Here’s the link to her release /announcement blog post: “Forgetting My Way Back To You” Release: Twelve Years in the Making

Here are my thoughts!


It was just released yesterday – October 15th – but Karina was nice enough to send me a PDF to read in advance. Thanks, Karina!

Many of you know that I prefer physical copies of books to e-books, but I made an exception in this case. My eyes were a bit blurry once I finished, but I enjoyed the story.

It’s not a super-long book – The PDF was roughly 218 pages. However, it has been a LONG time since I’ve touched a book that was a love story / romance.

I liked Charlee from the beginning. I recognized several themes from the first few pages – Perseverance, determination, and grit. She’s been through a lot in a few short years, between her own struggles, and her family dealing with a serious illness / setback.

I was very skeptical about Hunter. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him, or not. I think other characters had that vibe, too. However, I feel like the skepticism was a benefit to the story. It kept me interested. Considering I flew through the first 17 pages in less than 20 minutes, and then I read pages 17-58 in just thirty minutes during one of my lunch breaks, Barlow’s writing kept me engaged and interested. My husband thinks I broke a speed record with how fast I read this book!

The one plot point I had a significant issue with (no spoilers, I promise) was integral to the story, but it definitely made me roll my eyes and groan a little. Having that situation happen to Charlee was a bit cheesy, I’ll admit. I told my husband what happened in the story – I was reading next to him on my iPad while we were relaxing one night after work – and he had a similar reaction.

Despite the slight cheesiness, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and their interactions. The dialogue was well-written, and it was really easy to follow along and lose myself in a book for a while. The Pennsylvania setting was picturesque, and she captured it so well!

I look forward to reading more of Bartow’s work!

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #140: Welcome Home, Pablo!

Greyhound Love

Image Credit: Pinterest

It’s been a minute since I posted. Mainly because we welcomed a new family member to our home on September 10th. Welcome home, Pablo!

We’ve had him for nearly a month. It’s been exciting, but also challenging.

We’re taking it day by day, but we have a good routine set now. It’s like we had a kid, but he has fur. We love him, though. And he’s super sweet!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #139: Eight Years

Love Quote - BrainyQuote

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I love writing these “dating anniversary” posts every year!


Today, Al and I celebrate eight years together!

Here are eight photos that are special to me.

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling

September 2010: This was the very first photo that was taken of us!

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, outdoor

January 2015: Spending the weekend with friends in Richmond.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, wedding, tree and outdoor

November 2015: One of the best days of my life!

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

October 2017: One of my favorite photos of all time. This was at the start of Nick and Savy’s wedding reception at the farm.

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, people standing

October 2017: Dancing the night away!

Image may contain: Al Vardaro and Laura Beth Vardaro, people smiling, beard, closeup and outdoor

April 2018: We took this at The Main in Norfolk!

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April 2018: This was part of the “Love Gallery” at LanternAsia, the amazing display at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

 

Image may contain: 3 people, including Al Vardaro and Laura Beth Vardaro, people smiling, closeup

August 2018: This was the Norfolk Tides game on my birthday!

Happy Anniversary, Al. I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #57: First Date Book Tag

First Date Book Tag

Image Credit: Pinterest

Thrice Read does some of the best book tags! Here’s another one!

Here’s the link to their original post:


The awkward first date – A book where something felt off. It wasn’t a bad book, but lacked that spark for you.

Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee.

I wanted to like this book so much. But, it felt weird almost the whole time I was reading it. However, I can’t rate it higher than a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

The cheap first date – A book that turned out less than you expected.

This Is Where It Ends, Marieke Nijkamp.

This is one of those books where I was really intrigued by the synopsis, but ended up being let down. It didn’t help that the main plot coincided with a real-life national tragedy, either.

Well-prepared first date – A book that was better than expected.

The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware.

I’d heard good things for a while, before Al bought me my own copy for Christmas. But, this book knocked it out of the park. One of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read so far. Give me more!

Hot but dumb – A pretty book, not so hot on the inside.

Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer.

Vampires aren’t for me.

 

Blind date – A book you picked up not knowing anything about it.

The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

I found this book purely by chance during a Barnes & Noble expedition. Completely worth it!

Speed dating – A book you read super fast.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.

I was writing the Book Review just two days after starting it. I couldn’t put it down! I think that’s nearly a record for me.

The rebound – A book you read too soon after a book hangover and it kind of ruined the book for you.

Camino Island, John Grisham.

I ended up in a two-week reading slump right after starting it, and once I picked it up again, I knew I needed to set it aside. It’s back on my nightstand after several months, and I look forward to reading it all the way through very soon.

Overly enthusiastic date – A book that felt like it was trying too hard.

Allegiant, Veronica Roth.

See my review of the trilogy for more.

The perfect first date – A book that did everything right for you.

Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide, Patrice Banks.

I loved this book. She offers excellent advice, tips, and experience. Be a #shecanic like Patrice and I!

Humiliating first date – A book you’re embarrassed to admit you liked / embarrassed to see reading in public for whatever reason.

I’ve read quite a few of the Gossip Girl books.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂