January was the month of reading like a mofo

I started my 2015 Reading Challenge by reading two books in two days. How did I do that, you ask? Well, I stopped drinking alcohol, spent three weeks at home visiting my parents in the dead of winter, and basically just found myself with way too much time on my hands.

It was glorious.

I read a total of SEVEN BOOKS in one month. But as per usual, life kinda got away from me once I started living the best life ever in Hawaii. Beers on the beach and unlimited sun (and suspicious bug bites all over my shoulders) will do that to a person.

But anyway! Here’s what I read.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day – Matt Kenes

How to travel the world on 50 day

Quick summary

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day reveals Nomadic Matt’s tips, tricks, and secrets to comfortable budget travel based on his experience traveling the world without giving up the sushi meals and comfortable beds he enjoys. Offering a blend of advice ranging from travel hacking to smart banking, you’ll learn how to:

* Avoid paying bank fees anywhere in the world
* Earn thousands of free frequent flyer points
* Find discount travel cards that can save on hostels, tours, and transportation
* Get cheap (or free) plane tickets

Three-line review

I’m dumb about certain travel stuff, especially when it comes to banking and exchange rates, cuz I’m just no good at that shiz. Just take into consideration that everything in this book is written from Matt’s experience, and he really knows his stuff. But experiences may vary.

You can read my full review here.


This covers “book published this year.”

Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand


Quick summary

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Three-line review

THIS WAS AMAZING. I literally binge-read this entire thing in two days. One of the most incredible stories I’ve ever read. I’m completely baffled by how little I knew about the POW deaths in Japan during World War II. I had no idea. Hillenbrand MASTERS a compelling read.


Covered under “A book your mom loves.”

Dancing Lessons – Olive Senior


Quick summary

When her house in the Jamaican countryside is damaged by a hurricane, Gertrude Samphire is sent to by her estranged daughter Celia to Ellesmere Lodge, an assisted living centre. Gertrude is unimpressed with her new wealthy neighbours, and spends most of her time alone. It is only through writing that she finds her voice, and she begins to record her life in a notebook: memories of her gothic childhood, impetuous marriage, and struggles with raising a family. Gertrude slowly comes out of her shell, establishing and mending the relationships she has beenmissing for so long “and comes to realize she may not be as alone as she once felt.

Three-line review

LOVED living inside Mrs. G’s head for a week, even if she was often INFURIATING beyond belief. One of the most endearing, enraging characters I’ve come across in awhile. A heartbreaking story.


Filed under “A book by a female author.”

Every Little Thing – Chad Pelley

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 4.42.54 AM

Quick summary

In Every Little Thing, Cohen Davies’ life is shaped by the butterfly effect of a bad decision gone wrong. After a shocking family tragedy, Cohen is wracked with guilt and sorrow, and feeling numb to everything but the allure of his enigmatic new neighbor, Allie Crosbie. He sees in her the perfect place to bury his troubles. But when Allie’s father asks an unfathomable favour, Cohen’s decision to help him sets off a chain reaction of irrevocable events that starts with one man’s untimely death, and ends in Cohen’s incarceration. His guilt or innocence is left up to the reader to judge. In the aftermath of his actions, Allie will reveal a secret of her own.

Three-line review

I MUCH preferred this book to Pelley’s first. Much! The plot was exciting. I loved the descriptive writing. The only thing I didn’t love was Cohen. He was just so damned sad and mopey, like the main character in the first book. I couldn’t relate to him at all. And Allie just sucked as a person.


Read for “A book that you own but have never read.”

Swept: Love With a Chance of Drowning – Torre DeRoche

Love With a Chance

Quick summary

A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific aboard a leaky sailboat &- total crew of two &- struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat.

But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has to face a hard decision: watch the man she’s in love with sail away forever, or head off on the watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins her lover on a year-long voyage across the Pacific.

Three-line review

What a fun, light-hearted, hilarious, romantic-but-not-cheesy read. I wanna sail the world now. Maybe I’ll find a rugged sailor and we’ll hug like turtles.


Read for “A funny book.”

Chance Encounters – Janna Graber

Chance Encounters

Quick summary

Travel never goes quite like we expect. Planes are late, maps are misread and detours are made. When this happens, the twisting roads of travel can lead to adventures we never imagined — and lessons we never expected to learn. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we cross paths with people who show us life from a different angle or provide kindness when it’s needed most. Those we meet while traveling can change our journey, our experiences or even our lives. Come along with some of the world’s top travel writers as they share their stories from around the globe.

Three-line review

Fun, light-hearted, wanderlust-sparking stories! This book got me psyched up for Hawaii. Some of the stories I found dull, but others were great.


I read this for “The book at the bottom of your reading list.” (Not because I didn’t wanna read it, just because I forgot I ordered it.)

Serafim and Claire – Mark Lavarato

Serafim and Claire

Quick summary

Claire Audette is a dancer whose reputation in the vaudeville houses of 1920s Montreal is rapidly on the rise. Serafim Vieria is a photographer and lonely immigrant, wandering the streets of the same city haunted by memories of a lost love in his native Portugal. Around them, the Twenties are roaring, and the metropolis is simmering: corrupt politicians, the burgeoning of jazz, the emerging suffragette movement, trouble in the Red Light, fascism in the Italian community, with the English/French divide cleaving through it all. And as Serafim and Claire’s lives begin to intertwine, a dangerous plot forms that could boost both their fortunes. Can their naïve yet cunning plan succeed? Can they make their own luck?

Three-line review

I liked this book a lot but felt like the story took FOREVER to get started. FOREVER. And then it was all excitement for like 50 pages and then…nothing again. I have mixed feelings I guess.


Covered this book for “A book a friend recommended.” Thanks Maggie!

That’s “it”! WHAT A MONTH. Excuse me while I go drink Mai Tais on my balcony. What did you read this month?

  • February 06 2015

    Holy you read like a boss last month. Unbroken looks like a great book and if I have time this year I might have to try and read it. In January, I read 6 books, but they were all pretty easy reads (imo). I’m starting February out with something a bit more substantial, so we’ll see how this month goes.

    • February 09 2015


      and OMG 6 books is nothing to sneer at!

  • February 07 2015

    I used to read A LOT!
    But just like you, life can be extremely busy sometimes, and I never get around to read the stack of books on my shelves.
    Although, when I do start reading a really good book, I can easily finish it over a weekend.

    • February 09 2015

      Same! I just need the time to do it. I still read a lot, but last year only pulled off 30 books as opposed to 52 the year before

  • February 08 2015
    Adelaide Haynes

    Wow! This is incredibly inspiring to read! I’ve got a pile of books I want to get through but don’t dedicate enough time to it! I just finished a book called ‘Men on the Menu’ which was light hearted and fun but I want something a bit more challenging. Looking in to reading some Oscar Wilde next!
    I hope you keep it up! :)

    • February 09 2015

      Thanks Adelaide! I pulled off the 52-book challenge two years ago but I wasn’t travelling so often back then, haha. This will be hard!

  • February 10 2015
    City Bitches Abroad

    Wow, impressed by your reading skillz! I’ve been reading Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. After hearing so much about the insane drought that is happening here in California and comparisons to the Dust Bowl, I decided it was time. I’m enjoying it a lot more than when I had to read it in high school. Good luck with the rest of your challenge!

    • February 11 2015

      I read that one aaages ago and can’t remember if I liked it or hated it, hahaha. Also, love the blog name. ;)

      • February 11 2015
        City Bitches Abroad

        Thanks Candice! :)

  • February 11 2015

    Your head must be in a fog from all that reading! I’m supposed to be reading a book club selection, but I’m finishing up Getting Stoned with Savages (J. Marteen Troust)- makes me rethink Fiji!

    • February 20 2015

      How did you enjoy that one? Love the title! Lol. I actually think reading more (like I did in Jan) makes me a better writer. Really slacked off during Hawaii though. It’s taking me all month to get through Lolita…I’m thoroughly disturbed and enthralled.

      • February 21 2015

        Troost- spelled his name wrong! (he wrote Getting Naked with Cannibals also.) I enjoyed it (Stoned with Savages), makes me yearn for island life again, but Fiji sounded like a dump compared to his other homes. The book took a long time as I’ve been reading other things & joined a book club and have those selections too! Troost’s titles certainly garner conversation openers! And reading more does help with writing :) Good luck with Lolita!

  • February 20 2015

    I just finished Eleanor and Park and my cheeks are still wet with tears. You have to put this one at the top of your reading list. It’s beautiful, funny and completely heart wrenching. Plus it’s a quick read. Added bonus: the main character is an inspiring ginger. Read it and tell everyone you know to read it too.

    • February 20 2015

      I just looked up it up on Goodreads. Oh, I’m definitely reading this

  • February 26 2015

    So funny to hear you say you’re dumb at some travel stuff like banking fees, etc. WE FEEL THE SAME WAY! Like damn, we promote ourselves as travel bloggers/vloggers but yet we barely know the basics of some things hehehe. Hey, I guess you can’t know it all.

    Anyway, THANK YOU FOR DOING THESE BOOK POSTS. It not only gives us inspiration to read a damn book, but it takes the stress out of finding a book we’ll like.

    • March 03 2015

      Hahahaha I am legit the WORST. And there will be a new book post coming soon. ;)