What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Reading in Iceland

When I set the goal of reading 50 books in 2015 I had full intentions of doing a recap of the books I had read at the end of each month. Somehow though I have let almost 6 months go by without one recap of the books I have read. Oops. Better late than never though right?

I have read 22 books, a recap of all of them is just not happening, sorry. You can follow me on Goodreads to see the full list of what I have been reading. But I do want to share some of my favorite books that I have read so far in case your looking for some new reads.

Wreckage by Emily Bleeker – ★★★ – Two plane crash survivors spend almost two years on an island before they are rescued. What happened on the island continues to haunt them when they are brought back to their old lives and waiting families. This book totally sucked me in! One of those books that drops hints along the way and you spend the entire time trying to put the puzzle together to solve the mystery! My favorite kind of book.

Three Daughters – by Consuelo Saah Baehr – ★★★★★ – I loved this book! The storyline held my attention the entire time and I could not book the book down! From Goodreads, “Three Daughters is a historical saga that chronicles the lives, loves, and secrets of three generations of Palestinian Christian women.” Following the story and seeing how with each generation the way of life changed was so interesting to me, I am trying to get H to read the book so I can have someone to talk about it with. So if you read this, let me know!

Wild – by Cheryl Strayed – ★★★ – This was one of the first books I read this year and the main reason I picked it up was because I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. It took me a really long time to get into the story, but once I did I enjoyed following along and reading about how Cheryl Strayed changed on her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. Bonus, I loved reading about the parts when she was hiking through Oregon!

The Nightingale – by Kristin Hannah – ★★★★★ – I just finished this book last week and it more than earns its 4.5 stars out of 23,000 reviews on Goodreads! The story follows two French sisters in the 1940s as they do whatever they have to do to survive WWII. From Goodreads, “a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.” That is the perfect way to explain this book. I highly recommend it!

Big Little Lies – by Liane Moriarty – ★★★★ – If you haven’t read this book yet add this to your summer reading list, it is the perfect beach day book! The story of three moms and their children, schoolyard drama and scandal, it is ridiculously entertaining!

The Girl on the Train – by Paula Hawkins – ★★★★★ – Rachel takes the same train everyday and passes the time by creating lives for the families homes she passes, like the home of “Jess and Jason,” the happy couple who has the life she wanted. Jess and Jason’s life seems more than perfect, until one day when Rachel sees something that changes everything. I read this book in like two days, so ya, I kinda loved it. If you were a fan of Gone Girl this book is a must read!

Station Eleven – by Emily St. John Mandel – ★★★ – When a virus causes civilization as we know it to collapse the lives of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors intertwine into a story of loss, friendship and the beauty of the world as we know it. This book had a bit of a confusing storyline for me, but the main concept really makes you stop and think about your surroundings. An interesting read, but one that may not be for everyone. I am still trying to decide which side I am on, love it or hate it.

Yeah, Maybe – by Joey Hodges – ★★★★ – This book perfectly captures what it felt like to be in high school and the confusion of it all. Written by a fellow blogger I finished this book in one day! Thanks to Kristen from See You In A Porridge for recommending this book, it is one of my favorites I have read this year.

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The books above are all ones that I have enjoyed these past 6 months, but not every book I have read has been a gem. Here is just a quick recap of my not so favorite books.

Defending Jacob – by William Landay – ★★★ – This book still gets three stars because I did really like the story. The ending is what ruined it for me. It isn’t a bad ending, it just wasn’t what I wanted the ending to be. It sort of felt like a cope out ending to me. But I know the purpose was more to make the reader think and come to there own conclusions. Anyone else read this yet? What did you think of the ending?

My Sister’s Grave – by Robert Dugoni – ★- I love a good mystery but this book was just way to predictable. At times I thought maybe there would be a twist, but then nope, the ending was exactly what I guessed it would be in the first few chapters.

Maude – by by Donna Mabry – ★★★ – Based off a true story, this book had me feeling both happy to be a women in today’s society and incredible inspired by the strength of women in the early 1900s. This is not a story with a happy ending though and at times I got a bit frustrated and felt like it just couldn’t be possible to have so many bad things happen to one person. Still a great story, I just wish there could of been a dash of a happy ending.

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Next on my reading list, 1984, Bossypants and The Weight of Silence. If you have some recommendations I would love to hear them!

Question of the Day?
What books have you read lately?

The Search for the Orange Lighthouse // Grindavík, Iceland

Grinavik, Iceland

When you think of lighthouses what usually comes to mind? For me, it is beautiful tall white buildings and my great grandma.

Side story, my great grandma was, and forever will be, my favorite person ever. I was lucky and got to spend a lot of time with her growing up and one thing I will always remember about her (beside her sassy attitude which was just the best) was that she loved lighthouses. I will never forget her lighthouse clock that I thought was basically the coolest thing ever! All my wonderful memories of my grandma come to mind whenever I see a lighthouse, seeing them just makes me smile.

Back to the lighthouses.

In my mind they are always white with maybe some red or blue on the top part. So when I heard about the orange lighthouse in Grindavík I knew I had to see it!

And so, off H and I headed one sunny Saturday morning in search of the orange lighthouse. I am still wondering what my Grandma would of thought of the orange lighthouse? I know she would have loved the adventure of finding it!

Grinavik, IcelandGrinavik, IcelandGrinavik, Iceland

When we arrived to the charming fishing town of Grindavík H and I really had no idea where we needed to go to find the lighthouse. Naturally, I said left he said right. And as he was the driver we went right. I didn’t protest for to long though because around the corner these adorable creatures were waiting.

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While the baby lambs were adorable and made my day they were not the intended attraction so H made me say goodbye so we could continue on down the road. Aren’t they just the cutest though?

Now I am not going to say I told you so, but I told H over and over this was not the right way, and I really did try to hide my smirk when we came to the dead end turn around in the road. I almost didn’t say anything, but then “I told you so” came out of my mouth. I love being right :) At least H’s destination came with a pretty view, and a map.

Grinavik, IcelandGrinavik, IcelandGrinavik, IcelandGrinavik, Iceland

With the correct direction now settled on we headed towards Hópneshringur Circle, a gravel road that takes you back to the Grindavík lighthouse.

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I spy an orange lighthouse in the distance!

As you drive along the Hópneshringur Circle you will see the ruins of several shipwrecks. These are from old fishing boats that have wrecked just off the shores of the Reykjanes peninsula. At many of the shipwrecks you can get out and read the story behind it, an interesting, and sad, extra activity to do while heading back to the lighthouse.

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While I liked learning the history of the area I had my mind set on one thing and one thing only, the Grindavík lighthouse.

Grindavík lighthouse

Lighthouse I am coming for you!

Grindavík lighthouse

The Grindavík lighthouse might be small but I just love the pop of orange it brings to the area. I mean how often do you see an orange lighthouse?!

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I spy something orange

A photo posted by Kaelene (@kkiki10) on

A pretty lighthouse indeed.

As we made our way around the last part of the circle we had to make one more stop to get out and walk around. You just never know what you are going to find in Iceland and this walk led us to a small pond with an abandon building in the distance. We were not to sure what used to be in the building, H and I are guessing it was for fishing supplies, but it made for a picture perfect scenery.

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An adventure my Grandma most definitely would of loved.

Life by the sea is just the best! If you looking to visit an area full of Icelandic charm add Grindavík to your list!

Question of the Day?
Do you like visiting smaller towns when traveling or big cities?

An Update on My Goals for 2015

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2014 was the year of adjusting to life as an expat. It was a year of lots of ups and downs, but a year I survived and came out of a better person. When 2015 rolled around I was feeling much more settled into my life in Iceland and knew I wanted to set down some goals for the new year to keep me on my toes. I wanted to create goals that would challenge me in several ways and make me work hard at them, because what fun is it to go through life in that blur of routine!

With May quickly flying by and June approaching faster than the snow can melt here in Iceland I figured a little half way check in with my goals for 2015 were in order! So how have I been doing so far….

Not let my terrible Icelandic bring me down
Goal: Take another language class this Spring and actually use the vocabulary I have!

Update: So me and Icelandic are in a “its complicated” relationship at the moment. For the first part of the year I was taking class a few days a week that was open to the foreign faculty at my work. This was going really good, but then some not so pleasant encounters happened with people being not the most friendly towards us non-Icelandic speaking folks. When someone tells me I have to learn the language, or questions my skills based on how long I have been here, it makes me feel bullied into learning the language and I build this resentment towards it and completely avoided it.

So ya, that happened for a few months there but I am happy to report that I am coming back around to enjoying learning the language again. H has taken on role of teacher for now and I have class starting again after summer holiday. So I feel like this goal is slowly being accomplished, but I know I can do better, so I am marking it as in progress.

Take weekend road trips all over Iceland
Goal: Visit 10 new places and work on crossing places off my Icelandic bucket list!

Update: The weather made this goal a bit difficult but as soon as the snow was gone (which was in April!) H and I have been exploring all over. So far I have already crossed off two places on my 2015 wish list, and with mini road trips every weekend and a big one to the north of Iceland happening at the end of the month I think I am going to have no problem accomplishing my goal.

Road Trips in IcelandThe Secret LagoonBruarfossHvergerdi

Become a student again
Goal: Start a masters program (preferable online). At the least take graduate courses at the university I work at, I need to keep expanding my mind!

Update: I may be regretting this come fall but I officially will be a student again! I have signed up for a few graduate courses at the university where I work, thank you free tuition! I am viewing these courses as a test to see if I want to fully commit to a master program, stay tuned to see how that turns out!

Run my second full marathon
Goal: Beat my previous marathon time. I have my eyes set on running the New York City marathon. Fingers crossed I get chosen in the lottery entry drawing!

Update: I can’t believe this goal is going to be crossed off come November 1st! When I wrote this down I thought for sure I would need to update this to say run a marathon here in Iceland. The fact that I got into my bucket list marathon is just unbelievable, it still doesn’t feel like it is happening! Marathon training has just began but I am loving all the new trails I am discovering around Reykjavik. Check out my views lately.

Reykjavik, IcelandRunning in IcelandReykjavik, Iceland

Continue growing my blog and the community around it
Goal: Blog at least three times a week the entire year. Anymore than three posts a week and I know I am setting myself up for failure.

Update: I am so happy with the direction my blog is going and and with the community growing around it. My readers are just the best and I appreciate you all taking the time to read and comment! At times I have struggled to post frequently on here but I have stuck with my three times a week so far. Lets see how summer goes, I seem to struggle during the summer months the most.

Reignite my love for reading
Goal: Read 50 books this year. I am fully enjoying working hard towards this goal, bring on my cozy blanket and lazy afternoons spent reading.

Update: 22 books and counting! I am so happy I set this goal for myself. These past few months I have so enjoyed all the books I have read and taking the time for myself to indulge in a favorite hobby. Reading outside on a sunny day, that is just heaven to me!

Reading in Iceland

Throw our first party at our flat
Goal: Sure we have friends over for a drink or two but I am talking about a full blown themed party. I am thinking a St.Patrick’s Day bash is just the thing, bring on green everything!

Update: Umm ya, this hasn’t happened. Whenever we go to plan a party we remember we live in a tiny flat, duh. But with the weather getting nicer I view an outdoor party in the near future. I think our yard is bigger than the flat!

Travel to new places
Goal: Visit two new countries.

Update: When I wrote this goal H and I had no travel plans for the year other than a trip to Amsterdam for Easter. Then, in what felt like a few days time, we had trips booked every couple of months for the rest of the year! I will met my goal of two countries, and raise it one with trips to Amsterdam, Berlin and an upcoming trip to Prague. But we aren’t stopping there, we still have a trip back to Oregon and Hawaii this summer and a trip to the big apple this fall. I didn’t expect much travel wise this year but is has turned out to be a year packed full of amazing travels!

Eating Amsterdam Tour

Turn my love of writing into something more
Goal: Land my first paid freelance writing job

Update: In progress/still debating with myself how exactly I want to approach this goal. Something will be accomplished with this goal, just not sure what yet.

Improve my photography
Goal: Take a class on skillshare, read about photographer tips, practice with my camera every week, basically take in all the knowledge I can to take my photography to the next level!

Update: Does taking pictures constantly count as a class? I really do need to read up on at least the features of my camera, I am just the worst about this and no nothing ha. This goal needs to take priority in the next couple months I have lots of pretty places I am visiting and want to get the best pictures possible.

Blogger in Iceland

Every year I have always set some type of new years goals, but this is the first time I have actually written them down with set actions on how to accomplish them. I must say, having written these goals down has really helped push me, kind of like it is holding me accountable and I want to work hard to cross them all of my list. Half the year to go, wish me luck!

Question of the Day?
What goals are you working towards? Any suggestions on photography tutorials or classes?

Life Lately // The Deleted Scenes

Reykjanes Iceland

Note on Kiki: will jump and do tricks if taken on adventures.

After a LONG winter, that I may have mentioned once or twice, I am oh so happy to have sunny days again. Ever since the snow melted away I have been planning different adventures left and right. I told H he is going to have to wait until next winter to relax again, we need to make the most of the nice weather!

In the past couple of week I have visited some amazing places around Iceland, like the blue beauty Brúarfoss, steamy Secret Lagoon, and the always stunning Reykjadalur hiking trail, it has been a beautiful couple of weeks!

From these little adventures these past couple of weeks I have taken hundreds of pictures, I am putting my camera to good use that is for sure. And while I am tempted to have a photo explosion happen on the blog I like to pretend I have an organized manner about sharing my travels and chose pictures accordingly. But there are some real gems of places we have seen these past few weeks that I haven’t yet shared on the blog that deserve a little shout out before they get placed into a folder on the hard drive.

FernGully

FernGully

Okay I really need to find the name of this place but so far googling “awesome rocks by green/blue water” is not working out. So for now we are going to stick to calling it FernGully and leave it at that.

FernGully, IcelandFernGully, Iceland

This spot was discovered thanks to my tiny bladder (TMI, sorry). While on our way to the Secret Lagoon we saw a parking area that I made H stop over at so I could, well you know. H has a thing for taking pictures of interesting looking rocks so he got out as well to go explore the rock area while I did my business.

I am so glad he did because as soon as he arrived by the rocks he saw the beautiful green/blue water that had me rushing over with my camera. You really never know what you are going to find in Iceland!

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Gullfoss

Okay, Gullfoss is one of the most popular stops in Iceland so not quite a hidden gem, more like an amazing well known gem! Thanks so my terrible navigation skills H and I got to enjoy an unplanned visit to Gullfoss on our way to the Secret Lagoon a few weeks ago. The beauty of this place never gets old so I was more than happy for this pit stop!

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Bridge Between Continents

One of the best things about all of our adventuring lately, the new places H and I are learning about in our own backyard! The Reykjanes peninsula is less than an hour from Reykjavik and is full of gems I had no idea about. One such gem is the bridge between continents.

Bridge between Europe and North America on Reykjanes Peninsula

Fun fact, did you know that Iceland is drifting apart at almost 2 cm per year? Þingvellir National Park is a famous stop to view the drifting apart of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, but in the Reykjanes peninsula you can cross the bridge between the continents!

How cool does it sound to say you set foot in two different continents at the same time? I may or may not have joked to H that he had to stay on the European side of the bridge:) Thanks to the freezing wind picture taking was not a priority but a visit back to the bridge between Europe and North America on Reykjanes Peninsula is now a priority!

Bridge between Europe and North America on Reykjanes PeninsulaBridge between Europe and North America on Reykjanes Peninsula

Eldey and Reykjanes Lighthouse

About those gems in the Reykjanes pennisula, well here are two more for you! Through all the steam at Gunnuhver Geothermal area H and I spotted a lighthouse in the distance standing high on the hillside. Naturally we had to go explore the area more.

Here is a fun fact to tell your friends, the first lighthouse in Iceland was built in Reykjanes. Sadly, due to damage the first lighthouse was demolished and in 1908 a new lighthouse was built which is still standing today. Even if it is not the original the Reykjanes lighthouse is still one old pretty lighthouse!

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Driving past Reykjanes Lighthouse we discovered the second gem in this area, Eldey, a 77 meter high rock standing out of the sea.

Eldey

H and I decided to enjoy our lunch here, and with the Reykjanes Lighthouse, the sea and Eldey all in view it was one of my favorite stops of the day.

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You never know what you will stumble across when your out exploring! The perfect pit stops if you ask me!

Question of the Day?
Have a question about traveling to Iceland, what life in Iceland like, how to survive expat life, and anything else you may be interested in! Send your questions in here, looking forward to hear from you all!