Top Ten Tuesdays – Books to Movies

I’ve recently become intrigued by Internet memes. And, although I vow not to turn my blog into a high-school era Xanga page, with quizzes and surveys galore, I came across Top Ten Tuesdays, and thought it’d be fun to try. Created by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly special in which bloggers can share their book-themed lists.

Although I can’t guarantee I’ll participate every week (you all know I’m not necessarily consistent when it comes to posting regularly), I will when the topics strike my fancy.

So, for my very first Top Ten Tuesday…. Here are… (drumroll, please)…

Katie’s Top Ten Books that I’d Like to See Made Into Movies

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Yes, this is the sci-fi novel that fooled me. Full of cyborgs, Lunars, and androids, I even predicted in my blog post review that this to-be-published series would be the Next Big Thing, and would eventually be made into a movie.

2. Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, Four to Score, and any/all Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich

I loved the first one, and want to see more!

3. Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

I just love Meg Cabot. Her Princess Diaries books were made into very successful movies, so let’s try another one!

4. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Okay, I repeat, I just love Meg Cabot. But this would be a totally different movie than Queen of Babble, because the Heather Wells series is a mystery series about a great character who we can all relate to.

5. something by Kate White

I admit, I’m currently a little obsessed. But, honestly, I think it could be exciting. I’d like to see them start with the first Bailey Weggins novel, or maybe The Sixes.

6. How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long

I don’t often blog about my work life, but this is one of my favorite kids’ books. It so imaginative, and the illustrations are great. I’d love to see the idea expanded into a movie.

7. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

The only Jennifer Weiner book that’s been made into a movie is In Her Shoes. It was a hit, and Good in Bed is my favorite Weiner book, so I’d love to see it made.

8. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I googled this one to see if it had been made into a movie, and got an unofficial IMDB saying it might be released in 2013?? However, there was not any recent information, so I’m thinking this might be false information… However, this was one of my favorite reads in late elementary/junior high. (Surprisingly, another sci-fi!) I’m actually surprised it hasn’t been made into a movie already since it’s on so many required reading lists.

9. The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser

My book club read this one in the fall. It’s an interesting work of non-fiction about a theft from a Boston art museum that is yet unsolved. I can see the story of the guys who have devoted years of their life attempting to find the answer to this crime being very interesting on the screen.

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Told from the perspective of a teenaged boy on the autism spectrum, this is a powerful book, and a good story. It’s relevant to today’s current events with the focus on autism awareness.

Welp, that’s it, folks. What do you think of Top Ten Tuesdays? This one was pretty thrown together last minute–I look forward to putting more thought into future Top Tens.

What books am I missing off my list? What book would YOU like to see made into a movie?

 

 

My New Author Obsession: Kate White

Before our honeymoon, I hit up Half Price Books to stock up on some cheap, light reads, perfect for the Hawaiian beaches. I ended up picking up If Looks Could Kill by Kate White. It was an author I hadn’t heard of, but from the blurb on the back cover, I thought it would meet the requirements I was looking for in a good honeymoon read. One of about seven novels I read that week, this one did not disappoint. It happens to be the first in a series of mysteries about the same character: Bailey Weggins.

Bailey Weggins is a true-crime writer for a women’s fashion magazine. She becomes wrapped in up some amateur detective work when he high-profile boss’s nanny is found dead in the town house basement. The story is ripe with murder, sex, fashion, suspense, catty women, and everything that makes a perfect summertime read.

Impressed with my first Kate White experience, I did some research to see what else she’d written. In my research, I discovered that Kate White is actually the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. (I knew her name sounded familiar!) She’s actually written six Bailey Weggins novels, two stand-alone thrillers, and a career book entitled Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead… But Gutsy Girls Do. So, to sum up, Kate White manages to run what is arguably the sexiest, most well-known women’s magazine, publish at least one novel each year, and be a mom to two children. (Talk about “the seemingly impossible“!)

My next Kate White novels were A Body to Die For, Over Her Dead Body, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part–all members of the Bailey Weggins series. Over spring break, I broke out and read one of her other novels, Hush. I enjoyed reading about a new character, although I found the plotline to be very similar to a Bailey novel. Although her novels all follow the same basic pattern, which leads them to being fairly predictable, the characters are relatable, and the story details are different enough that I still find myself captivated. Kate always manages to capture her reader in the first few pages. The story gets moving quickly, and there’s little tip-toeing around with introductions, setting the scene, etc. at the beginning. Instead, you get to know the characters’ back stories through their interactions with each other, and the ties they make through their discoveries about the crime.

Now I’ve just finished listening to The Sixes, and was pleased to see Kate break the mold a little bit on this one by changing the setting from the city to a small college town.

Kate follows the advice of “writing about what you know”, as her characters write for fashion magazines, are celebrity novelists, or work in public relations. I have yet to find a novel by White about a first-grade teacher in the Midwest, yet I still find the characters relatable in their life experiences and inner dialogue.

I am running to the end of my Kate White reading list, and plan to save Lethally Blond and So Pretty It Hurts for pool time this summer. It’s fun to have found an author I really enjoy all on my own, and I look forward to reading anything Kate White publishes in the future! (I’m also thinking about picking up my Cosmo subscription again. My own modesty led me not to renew it last time, as I found myself quickly turning pages at the gym to avoid embarrassment when other exercisers glanced at my reading material.)

Do you have an author that you can count on for writing enjoyable novels, or whose publications you always look forward to? What authors have you discovered recently?

The Seemingly Impossible

This past Friday, I left my first-graders with a substitute and headed up to Kirksville, MO to attend a conference at my alma mater, Truman State University. It was a wonderful excuse to take a day off of work, make my grand return to K-ville, and engage in 24 hours of girl talk with my good friend, Molly, all while learning applicable strategies for how to be a better reading teacher.

While meandering around campus, reminiscing over past classes, professors, events, and boyfriends, I picked up a copy of the campus newspaper, The Index. After writing for The Index my first semester of college (in pursuit of my short-lived journalistic dream), I always had a soft spot in my heart for the publication. In the hotel room that night, I read through the issue, catching up on the campus’ current events. One particular story caught my eye: “Students Hike Home“*.

For those of you who chose not to click that link, the article details two students’ plans to walk home at the end of the semester, from Kirksville to St. Louis. The distance measures 188 miles. This will be a second attempt–last semester, Daniel got to 100 miles in five days, but became exhausted and called on his parents to rescue him from New London, MO. This time, Daniel claims, will be different. He’s been running a few times a week, and planned a couple of long hikes beforehand. He has a cohort this time–a female student named Elizabeth. Daniel and Elizabeth plan to carry food, first aid supplies, and sleeping bags. Last time, Daniel just dozed off in his sleeping bag in public areas along his path–the article doesn’t mention whether these plans have changed this time.

Why?? you may ask yourself. Well, he plans to collect donations for the Sierra Club. But, what caught my eye was the comment that “the trek will test his ability to achieve the ‘seemingly impossible,’ a notion he said he is always trying to challenge.”

After reading this article–to myself, and then out loud to Molly–I thought to myself about how I could never do this. Then, no, I thought, that’s not true. It’s that I would never want to do this. Then I began to wonder: Why?? Why would I never want to do this? Here are the reasons I came up with off the top of my head:

1. I hate sleeping outdoors.

2. I don’t like being dirty.

3. It would mess with my running plans.

4. It doesn’t seem safe.

5. It doesn’t seem necessary.

Then, I began to feel a little down on myself. How come I never have these sorts of adventures? Will I one day look back on life and feel regretful that I didn’t try to walk 188 miles? What fun, crazy things have I ever done? Nothing! Am I boring? Am I just a total conformist? Why don’t I feel the need to tackle the “seemingly impossible”? These thoughts haunted me for a few days. (Well, okay, that was just Thursday night, so maybe just one day. But still.)

On my run this morning, I pondered those words: “seemingly impossible”. And here’s what I decided:

We each have our own definition of the “seemingly impossible”. These are things that seem out of reach, would require some sort of major lifestyle change, and would benefit us in some way. For me, walking 188 miles isn’t necessarily “seemingly impossible”. It does seem out of reach, it would require me to change my lifestyle, but I don’t really see what benefit it would have to me.

I felt a little better about myself when I thought about the “seemingly impossible things” I have accomplished in my life.

1. Losing weight.

2. Running a half-marathon.

3. Running a half-marathon in under two hours.

4. Meeting someone, falling in love, and getting married.

What‘s “seemingly impossible” for me right now?

1. Getting 21 first graders to grade level in reading and math.

2. Living an anxiety-free life.

3. Buying a house.

Although these things seem scary and over-whelming, (and, well, impossible) looking at the list of “seemingly impossible things” that I have accomplished leads me to believe that I can accomplish these things. But, just like I had to set goals, make changes, follow through, and hold myself accountable for my attained goals, I have to do those same things for my current goals.

Here’s my question to you. I encourage you to comment below and let me know what you think. What “seemingly impossible things” have you accomplished in the past? What “seemingly impossible things” are you currently tackling? What “seemingly impossible things” seem truly impossible to you? How can we help each other to further our accomplishments?

*Kudos to Scott Henson, IndexStaff Reporter, for writing an intriguing article

Squashing the Body Bashing

Working in a predominantly-female workplace, and just being female in general, I am amazed by how often I hear women talk badly about their bodies. Not that I am not to blame, as well. I’ve been known to complain about “fat days” or make a face in the mirror at a specific body area. As women, we know how important it is to love our bodies and appreciate the strength and health that allow us to do awesome things like carry 15 grocery bags at once, sit on the floor to play a board game, or even run a half-marathon. But, sometimes it feels like it’s in our DNA to point out the “bad”–which is usually something no one else would ever notice! I think this problem is rooted in the need to constantly compare ourselves to other women.

Anyway, this quick rant is a way to introduce you to one of my newest weekly obsessions: No Fat Talk Tuesday. Espresso and Cream, written by Madison, a 24-year-old Midwesterner (okay, maybe there’s a reason I identify with this woman…), is primarily a food blog. Madison features “simple food made with quality ingredients, and a whole lot of yum.” While I have yet to try one of the recipes, I was drawn to this blog because of the weekly feature on a woman’s story about body image. Each story is the tale of a different woman’s journey–her struggles and victories when it comes to achieving a healthy body image. It’s empowering, as a woman, to hear another woman sharing some of the same thoughts and experiences.

I’m sharing this with you today because yesterday, being Tuesday, yet another inspirational story was shared. I urge you to read through a few of the women’s stories, and then to pledge yourself Fat Talk Free–and not just on Tuesdays!

Hamburger Salad

I haven’t posted many recipes recently because, to be honest, the new ones we’ve tried in the past few weeks have been mostly “meh.”

We tried a Sloppy Joe recipe that used ground turkey in the Crockpot and it was… fine.

I found a Peachy Pork & Rice recipe that used taco seasoning, salsa, and peach preserves to flavor pork served over brown rice. It sounded good, but basically just tasted like pork, salsa and rice.

Plus, we’ve been awfully busy recently, and have really only been eating 1-2 dinners together each week.

But, I thought I’d pass along one of my own tried-and-true, go-to recipes. This recipe is loosely based on this Hungry Girl recipe that I read a couple of years ago. This is the meal I choose when I want something protein-packed, filling, BIG, and low-cal. Here it is:

Katie’s HamburgerSalad

1 Boca Burger (I use original)

2% shredded cheese (I like cheddar)

Dill pickles

Tomato (Roma or grape)

Spinach

Fat Free or Light Dressing

Croutons

Mushrooms

Heat the Boca Burger in a small pan on the stovetop. Using your spatula, break the burger into 1-in cubes. If you like your mushrooms a little bit cooked, add them to the pan at the end. In the meantime, put as much spinach as you want in the bowl. Cut up the tomato and add it. Add some pickle slices, the cheese, and the dressing. Then, dump the burger and mushrooms on top. Add some croutons, and voila! A filling salad for around 200-250 calories, dependent on the dressing, the amount of cheese you use, and how honest you are about the crouton serving size.

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo

My claim to fame is being the first student at my high school to earn a score of 1 on the AP History test. Before you congratulate me, you should know that the scale is 1-5: 5 being the best. I’m pretty sure my 1 was cemented by the grader when I completely invented my own war to write about for the second essay…

Social studies has always been a challenging subject for me. The thing is: I’m interested in the subject. I really am! I would listen to my AP History teacher (in my opinion the best teacher at my high school) and become completely enraptured by the story. I listened, participated, and nodded in agreement, copying down every inch of his flowcharts. I’d host study parties where we’d pour over our notes, and summarize Mr. Richards’ lectures day by day. But sitting down to take the test, it was like a completely different subject. I just couldn’t remember the ins and outs of each act, who passed it, and in what year. I couldn’t explain the ramifications of a particular war on a particular population; the terms and details just slipped my mind.

I used to talk online with this guy from London (don’t ask… we somehow played a game of online Pictionary together late at night once, and an e-friendship began). It was just plain embarrassing how much more American history he knew than I did. Then, when he asked what year of high school Americans took British history, I felt like such a doofus…

My sophomore year of college, I took another history class. This one also featured essay tests, and I pulled many late nights studying pile after pile of flashcards. I managed a B in that class (one of three B’s I got in college).

I think the issue is that I just have no retention for this stuff. I swear, every time I hear about a historical event, it’s like the first time. But, I’ve realized in my adult life, that one of the best ways for me to learn about history is through literature. When I read a historical novel, and tie the events to characters and plotlines, it makes the story more real to me. In college, after reading Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, I ended up researching and writing a whole paper on the Chinese traditions of foot-binding. My Faith Club just finished reading A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers, which was PERFECT for me, because it told the stories of the five women in the lineage of Christ in five novellas.

For this reason, I’m making more of an effort to read about history. I think it’s important, and I look forward to learning more about becoming a more educated American citizen. And, all of this brings me to my review of the title:

This past month, for my book group, we read Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo. This is really Algeo’s memoir of his re-creation of Harry and Bess Truman’s cross-country trip from Independence, MO to Washington, D.C. and New York the year after Harry’s presidency culminated. Harry thought that he and Bess could travel, by car, with zero security, and achieve anonymity. Well, he was wrong. But Algeo tells the story of how the Trumans tried. Algeo has received some flack for this text; people saying it wasn’t necessary to stay in every hotel, eat every meal, and drive every road identical to Harry’s trip.

However, I thought it was kinda cute. Here’s Matt Algeo, total history geek–I’ll bet he did well on the AP test–following in the footsteps of one of his historical icons, Harry Truman. (I picture Algeo being like the tour guide I had in London, who seemed to be so interested in Jack the Ripper, that maybe he thought he really was Jack the Ripper.)

Algeo intersperses a triad of details from his own trip, from the Trumans’ trip, and historical context of the 1950s. The three facets keep the story moving, and kept me interested. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was like: “McCarthyism?? That happened at the same time as Truman, what????” I told you. It’s pathetic.)

As a Midwesterner, I enjoyed hearing about Algeo and Truman’s experiences driving across Highway 36, a journey I know well from traveling back and forth from Kirksville to KC for many years. I also identified with Truman’s Midwestern values, and enjoyed the details about the Truman home and library that I’ve visited many (oh, so many) times over the years.

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure is a worthy read, and Algeo has convinced me to read a second of his books: The President is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Villifies the Courageous Newspaperman who Dared Expose the Truth.

Was Jesus a Yogi?

All week, I’ve been pondering an interesting development in my understanding of Yoga and its relationship to my faith. This past week in church, on the second Sunday of Easter, our pastor gave an interesting sermon on the Resurrection. It struck my interest so quickly, that I began taking notes. From my rough outline, penciled in the margins of my bulletin, here’s a quick recap:

(This is by no means a direct quote… Rather my summary of what was said!)

There are twelve appearances of the resurrected Jesus in the gospel. Interestingly, 12 is the Biblical number for “completeness” or “perfection”. Although there are rumors of other appearances, not penned or included in the holy word, these twelve hold the substance and the meaning behind the Resurrection.

One of the appearances (according to John 20:1-22) occurred the evening of that very first Easter. The disciples (all twelve of them) had gathered together to comfort one another in the sorrow they were feeling upon the crucifixion of their leader. They’d heard rumors all day–women around town were saying the tomb was empty and that Jesus had been raised from the dead, however, they were skeptical. They didn’t dare to believe this was true.

But then, in the midst of their gathering, Jesus appeared and said to them: “Peace be with you.” In these words is the meaning of Easter. With these words, Jesus transforms the pain and loss of his death into joy and peace. In the depths of despair, Jesus sheds light, bringing life from death.

He repeats these words, adding “as God has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). It is with these words that Jesus issues a charge for what will become the Church. It is with these words that we are called to respond to the resurrection, to share grace and peace with one another.

The next verse reads: “And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22 NIV). Through the breath, Jesus says, we are able to do everything that God calls us to do. Through the breath, we find grace, peace, and forgiveness.

As I contemplated the last part of this sermon, and Jesus’ use of the word breath, I drew a parallel between what Jesus said and did, and what I’ve lately been experiencing in my Yoga practice. The sense of peace that Jesus brought to the disciples when they learned of his Resurrection, the peace felt through the Holy Spirit, is the peace that I feel in Yoga. It’s through the movement of Yoga that I feel connected to God. And what guides movement in Yoga? Breath.

I had a brief, but impactful, conversation with my Dad on Easter Sunday. He’d read my most recent post on Yoga and explained to me that it mirrored the benefits he gets from Meditation. He told me that, over the years as he’s practiced Meditation, he’s begun to believe that Jesus taught people to achieve actualization through something similar to Yoga or Meditation. He even drew a parallel between Buddha and Jesus.

Sunday afternoon, as I surrendered deeply into Pigeon Pose, which has become my most contemplative position, I thought more about these connections. I’m convinced that the breath–which is with us always, filling us deeply from head to toe with oxygen that we so truly need–is a constant reminder of the peace God wants us to find in the Resurrection.

I’m comfortable with assuming that you breathe on a regular basis. So, I encourage you to add to that experience. Whether Meditation is your thing, or the movement of Yoga brings you to that point of centeredness, allow your breath to be transformative. Allow your breath to be that bridge between you and God.

How I Rocked the Parkway

Over the past few months, I’ve shared bits and pieces of my training for Rock the Parkway, a rather large, springtime Kansas City half-marathon. After my last half-marathon in October, I’d struggled with some disheartening ITBS issues, but after much … Continue reading

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Dream Come True

I’ve recently had a dream come true.

Last year, I admitted to my extreme obsession with all things Harry Potter in this post. That’s when we took our Harry Potter dorkitude to a whole new level, making matching Gryffindor Quidditch Team shirts, and attended a HP-themed birthday party as Katie Bell and Oliver Wood.

Well, those shirts made a second appearance last week, when B and I got the chance to visit Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure over Spring Break.

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Sporting our awesome shirts in front of the Hogwarts Express.

Truly, the entire experience was like stepping into a dream. As I would explain to my first graders, when I read Harry Potter, I “create mental images” in my mind. Visiting HP World was like jumping into my own mental image.

The sights…

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The streets of Hogsmeade

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Hogwarts

The tastes…

Hog's Head

Mmm, butterbeer!

Honeyduke's

And the sounds…

Zonko's Joke Shop

Although HP World itself is absolutely fabulous and wonderful, the Islands of Adventure park left much to be desired. Since we were lucky enough (and sneaky enough) to bypass most of the lines at HP World, waiting only for the Forbidden Journey ride, we were done with the park in a little under three hours. After paying the Disney prices, we felt a little like… well, like we could’ve used more HP. Although, I’ll admit, I probably would have paid the prices just to stand in the Forbidden Journey line:

In the Hogwart's Herbatorium
(Did I make that word up?? B says I did.)

About to go inside Hogwarts

Dumbledore's Office
(Hard to get a good picture as I didn't want to stop in the line and risk having my head bit off by eager HP fans.)

The Sorting Hat

Portraits

At the end of the day, we decided not to think about the high cost of the experience, and just the experience itself. And, seeing it that way, HP World was AWESOME!! I highly suggest it to any HP fan out there. Oh, and don’t pass up the Butterbeer. Sure, $25 for two is a lot (hey, we splurged on the souvenir mug), but the creamy-marshmallowy-goodness is seriously to-die-for.

Surrender. Let go. Release.

Tomorrow, being Easter, marks the end of my commitment to practice Yoga twice a week. However, it will not mark the end of this practice in my life. The experience of regularly incorporating Yoga into my life for the past forty days has truly been transformative. The benefits are numerous. Yoga is:

  1. a great stretch for tight running muscles
  2. a release for my tension-filled back
  3. increasing my flexibility
  4. a time to slow down and breathe deeply
  5. a time to think
  6. a time not to think

Every time I leave a Yoga class, I do so feeling calm, and peaceful. Yoga clears my mind, makes me a more patient and grateful person.

I struggle with an anxiety disorder, and the past few weeks were getting pretty tough. Whenever I’m having an anxiety “flare up,” I become very inflexible when it comes to any changes or anything unexpected. I tend to back away from things I cannot control, and end up ostracizing myself.

But something a Yoga instructor said during class a few weeks ago really stuck with me, and it’s a mantra I’m now trying to incorporate into my every day life. As we were finding Pigeon pose (a great stretch for my sore IT band, but also one that tends to be a little uncomfortable). I was feeling a little antsy in class that day, and my hip was killing me as I tried to find a comfortable position. But, she explained that this pose is about letting go. She encourage us, with each breath, to release our muscles and surrender to the posture. On my next exhale, I mindfully released the tightness in my hip, and sure enough, I sank closer to the floor. I let my forehead settle onto my stacked palms on the mat in front of me. Breathing deeply, I listened as she suggested:

“What would happen if you applied this practice to your life? What would your life be like if you surrendered? If you just let go?… If you just released control?”

Her words have stuck with me. After that class, I was able to break out of my anxious “slump” and have embraced the idea of living in the moment, and of just letting life happen. So far, allowing things to slip a little out of my control hasn’t produced any terrible results. As a matter of fact, I’m learning that some of the best moments are surrendered moments. And when times get tough, or I feel my mind slipping back into its old pattern, I say to myself (sometimes even out loud):

Surrender…

Let go…

Release…

Just try it.