Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe. A romantic and charming YA debut perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.
I’m not 100% sure what it was about this book, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Possibly the first issue I found with it was the boy on the cover did not match the description of the boy in the novel (I don’t see any curly hair on our cover model…) I don’t know who that boy on the cover is, but it definitely was not Sam.
And I was constantly annoyed with Aubree… or is she Elizabeth…. or Lizzie? I felt like she let the lie of who she was go on for way too long and she had so many opportunities to tell the truth.
The old folk were probably the best part of this book, especially Mr. Fenton and Bento. I have no idea what Bento was saying in Spanish, but I think that’s what made me like him so much.
I didn’t start to enjoy this book until 75% of the way through. I think that’s when we start to see Aubree begin to mature. Part of me could relate to her, being terrified of going to a new country and eating new food, but I also thought she was being a tad overdramatic most of the time.
The rating I gave this book was probably the lowest of any book I read this year, but I think that’s only due to the content being for the younger crowd. I could see someone in their early teens really enjoying this book, but as a 27 year old, it wasn’t up to my standards of what makes a YA book good.
With that said, I think Malone did do a good job of describing the European cities that Aubree ventured through, that was the one thing that saved this book from getting a one star (other than the Mr. Fenton plot, loved his character).
So a few months back, I spit in a little plastic tube and mailed it off to some scientists to figure out where I came from. Let me just say, I was so excited and kept checking my email everyday in the hopes of receiving my results.
It took awhile, about two or three months to get them back. And what I found out, wasn’t a huge surprise. It was when I dived deeper, that I found out some cool stuff.
Growing up, my granny always told me I was Irish and Cherokee, she even tried to teach me how to do an Irish jig. I believed her, figuring everyone had a little bit of Irish in them.
SO, I got the results back and I’m honestly not too surprised! Between my grandma insisting for years that we were Irish and a assignment in middle school where we needed to figure out our heritage, the results were pretty on point.
Here’s the breakdown:
I did find out that I have a tiny percentage (2%) that’s from a small area of Germany. I actually visited it last summer when I went with my husband and in-laws. That was pretty cool to learn. Though if I had knew this when I visited, it would have been an even cooler experience.
I also find it funny that once my ancestors migrated from Europe, they pretty much stayed put in the Midwest. Literally, if you were to look at a map, they didn’t go much further than Kentucky.
I’m pretty pleased with my Ancestry experience. It’s cool to find out where I came from. I recently went to a Ren Fair and even bought a Scottish Pride kilt since I’m mostly from there. I’m so excited to be able to even say that I’m a little bit Irish this St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve watched more Outlander and everything because of these results. 🙂
If you haven’t checked out part 1 of this post, you can find it here. Once we returned from Germany, we had about a two week break before flying out to Seattle for our (late) honeymoon. We flew out first class and had a morning screwdriver on the airplane just because it was first class! Duh!
When we landed in Seattle, of course we did some Pokémon hunting at the Sea-Tac airport!
Once we got our luggage, we got to play the game of finding an uber (this was the first time we ever used uber and we were in a place we had never been to). It took us about 30 minutes to actually find the Uber, but luckily he was nice enough to wait on us and talk us through how to find him. By the way, if you haven’t used Uber before, and you live in a big city or you’re traveling. Here’s a code you can use for a cheap ride (breannat697ue)! We spent under $50 by using Uber instead of calling a taxi. Seriously, our ride from the airport to the airb&b was only $5!
We stayed at a little apartment/condo place about 20 minutes from Pike Place Market. It was okay, but I wish we had found a cheap hotel closer to all of the cool things Seattle has to offer. Once we dropped our bags off, we got an uber downtown and went to get dinner at a super cozy bar. We walked about the town, headed for Pike Place Market. Pike Place isn’t as cool as I was led to believe. It was super crowded! We did get a glimpse of a fish being thrown and bought some really good doughnuts though.
Once we gorged ourselves with doughnuts, we battled the crowd and went searching for the Space Needle. We only had one afternoon in Seattle, so we wanted to do everything possible. Well… everything except visit the first Starbucks, ain’t nobody got time for that.
The space needle was about a 45 minute walk from Pike Place, and then we got there, it was packed. We had planned on going up but they were booked until nine that night and we didn’t feel like coming back because it was all the way across town. We did buy a really cool pepper shaker in the gift shop though! We checked out the parks surrounding the needle and found some really cool stuff. Stu actually had to help a street performer/magician too! And of course, like all good tourists, we got our picture in front of the space needle.
The next day we woke up to a rainy Seattle and called an uber to take us to the dock where our cruise ship terminal was. We got there about an hour early, and that was a mistake. The ship had just docked and there were already hundreds of people de-boarding and waiting on taxi’s. We were really confused on where to go, but eventually figured it out and got through security. We ended up because one of the first families on the ship! Which was super cool! Our room wasn’t going to be ready for about six hours so we went up to the Windjammer (place where we had breakfast and lunch everyday.) We also explored the ship a bit, played a game of put-put and had a drink at one of the bars (it eventually became our favorite bar on the ship).
The next day we spent all day on the ship, which called for more food gorging and hot tub time. We also didn’t realize how cold it was going to be, so we had to do some on-board shopping and buy some coats. This was the best time ever because we got free hot chocolate on the top deck! We also saw a really good comedian that night!
Our first stop was in Juneau, we scheduled a hike to see the Mendenhall Glacier. Our tour guide was super nice (and he have the same name) and knew a ton about the area. The second we stepped foot on the trail, we encountered a bear. It was fishing for salmon, you can’t get anymore Alaska than that! On the trail, we had the opportunity to eat some fresh berries. But beware! Don’t go picking just any berries in Alaska! There’s one berry that will make you really sick! The hike was about 3-4 hours long, and a bit treacherous for me because I’m so short. I was pretty much climbing the mountain, while my husband was taking a calm walk. On the hike, I managed to pick up a cool rock (it’s the one thing my dad wanted me to bring him back). It rained the whole hike, but honestly we had the best time ever.
I believe the next day we had a full sea day, but then stopped in Skagway. We had a dog sled excursion scheduled here. Skagway was probably my favorite town because it was so tiny and wasn’t full of too much tourism. Our dog sled guy is actually running in the Iditarod in a few years, you can follow him here. We were driven up the side of the mountain in a military truck and then hopped on some training sleds for a little ride! Afterwards, we got to meet some adorable puppies that will one day be sled dogs! Once that was over, we went back in town and had some pub food. The food was amazing on the trip!
Here’s some more random pictures from the cruise, the next day and a half were spent as sea days. Most of the time we were either at the bar, eating, napping or swimming. 🙂
Our final port day was in Canada, probably our least favorite stop because there wasn’t too much to do here. Most of the excursions offered were just tours of gardens. We decided to walk through town on our own, mainly because I had never been to Canada and I just wanted to check it off my list. We found a really cool marina where some seals were hanging out. And then we just headed back to the boat because we wanted to chill out on our second to last day of the honeymoon. This was also the HOTTEST day and we hate the heat. This was the only day we actually got in the pool because it was so hot.
On the very last day, we stopped to see another big glacier from the boat but it was still a sea day.
That’s about it! It was the best trip I’ve ever taken in my life! If you’ve never been on a cruise, go for it! The entire staff was fantastic, food was awesome, views were breathtaking and it was just a fun time. We went through Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas. If you want to check out my video, go here. You’ll see the bear walking through the water, some dogsledding and hiking!
Oh, wait. I don’t have summer vacations anymore! Well, I at least went on two wild adventures to new places and I thought I would do a fun little blog on my trips this year. I hope you enjoy! I’ll have a book blog up next week, I promise! I just really wanted to post about these trips.
My first trip led me to Germany, it was a spur of the moment trip (thanks to my wonderful in-laws), one of those living-in-the-moment times. I managed to get out of work for 11 days (unpaid, boooo) and hop on a plane to venture out of the US for the first time ever. My husband was over there for a week prior to this with some of his students and he had no clue that I was coming over. We discussed me ditching work though, and how much fun it would be for him to show me the country but never thought it would actually happen. My in-laws were already planning on going over and offered to bring me with them, so I packed my bags and joined them.
We flew out over night and I didn’t sleep at all on the plane (not even after I took a sleeping pill) because I was too excited. I’m also not a great flyer unless I have a window seat, and lucky me got stuck in the very center of the plane, so I couldn’t even get up to use the restroom because I didn’t want to wake up the people next to me.
When we landed in Frankfurt at 9AM their time, and it was already overwhelming. We had to go buy a train ticket (I actually saved some money by being under the age of 26) and then hop on the train to the town of Hannover where my husband was staying with some of the in-laws friends, at this point he still didn’t know I was coming. I sent him a few texts talking about how I really wanted to come over there and he was so bummed that I wasn’t.
I loved passing through all the small little towns while on the train. It was about a three hour ride and I still hadn’t slept because of all the adrenaline. I also had it in my head that I would never see those sights again, so I wanted to spend the least amount of time sleeping.
As our train pulled into the station, I thought I was going to get sick from excitement. You know how dogs work themselves up after missing their human for a long time and then proceed to vomit? Yeah, I’m the dog in that situation. I could see Stu waiting on the platform, but he couldn’t see me. My in-laws got off first, and then me, I’m pretty sure my husband still didn’t believe it was me when I got off the train. We hugged and he kept asking how I managed to get there, and so on.
Hannover was beautiful! The food was amazing too (this was one thing I was worried about because I’m a picky eater). I even found a beer that I liked, sadly, I never got the name of it. If I had to pick a city to live in over there, it would be Hannover. Though everyone having security shutters was a bit unsettling. While in Hannover, we went to a few cool places just outside the city. We visited a castle (not old, it was built for show) and went to the town of Hamel where one of the German fairy tales originated (boom, tying this post into my book blogging), and saw some really cool churches. This town tied for my favorite city we visited there.
After we left Hannover, we jumped on a train to Berlin. I had huge expectations for Berlin! I ended up not liking this town that much because it didn’t really feel safe, but I’m used to living in a country where most people have concealed carry and know how to protect. If you go to Berlin, two days is plenty if you don’t like cities. Go see the Brandenburg Gate (it will only take five minutes, not as cool as you think), go to the Wall and take a boat tour.
After a few days in Berlin, we headed to Erfert (I thought it was called the airport and didn’t know why we were going back to the airport). This was another one of my favorite cities and I wish we had explored here longer. We had a great view from our room, food was fantastic and the city was amazing. We took a Luther tour where the guide wore a monk outfit and told us Luther facts from the town and showed us key places in his life. We had a fantastic dinner at a outdoor cafe and almost saw Flogging Molly!
We then went to visit Wittenberg where Martin Luther preached and lived. We managed to tour his house and see the main church. You can say we spent 90% of the trip checking out churches, but of course being Lutherans we had to spend a day or two in his town. This was something I was really excited about seeing. If you plan on going, be sure to check what time the main church is open to the public and be sure not to carry your suitcases with you. They’re currently redoing the train stop for next years anniversary so we had to drag out bags about a mile and rent a locker at the Luther House.
The final leg of our trip led to a smaller town where we met up with some more family friends. Here, we pretty much relaxed and hung out. We did tour the Rothenburg ob der Tauber which was a old walled city that had tons of shops and yes, more churches. I can’t even tell you the names of some of the other places we checked out. We just hopped in the car and visited a ton of places that looked cool, this was one of my favorite pictures from that portion of the trip. Below us, is our group and a small farmers market.
If you ever get the chance to see another country, do it! Don’t let nerves or anything get in the way! I knew I would regret letting this opportunity pass me by and I’m so glad I went!
I just got back from my surprise Germany trip on Sunday, so I thought that I would do a fun travel themed book tag this week. I searched and surprisingly couldn’t find many book tags with a travel theme so I figured I would do my own.
(If you would like to see my pictures from Germany in a post, let me know!)
For this tag, I’ll list a handful of countries and then you can pick out a book for each one that reminds you of that country whether it’s the setting, heritage, atmosphere, whatever. I hope you enjoy! If you do this tag, let me know!
1.) United States of America:
Pretty much any summer time contemporary romance reminds me of the US (where I’m from!) I’ll go with Dear John by Nicholas Sparks for this, it’s a lovely story of a girl who loves a boy who is fighting for his country.
This one is a toughy because I don’t recall reading anything set in Germany. So I’ll go non-fiction for this one and choose the Diary of Anne Frank. If you haven’t read this, you should!
3.) United Kingdom:
Harry Potter of course!
Why I Let My Hair Grow Out is set in Ireland, when Morgan’s boyfriend dumps her, her parents decide a change of scenery would be best. They send her to Ireland for a bike ride across the country where she finally can do some growing up. I read this book way back, it’s very short, but so cute.
To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, sticks out to me for this one because it’s one of the only books where I remember culture sticking out to me. Our main character talks about how her mother was Asian but her father is not, yet he still manages to keep the girls Asian heritage prominent in their lives even though their mother is deceased.
Zac and Mia takes place in an Australian hospital where our two characters are handling their cancer diagnoses. This is by far one of my favorite books, if you enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) TFIOS by John Green, you’ll enjoy this one. I think it’s way better!
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, I honestly wasn’t sure what to use for this so I just went to Google and typed in ‘YA books based in Canada’ and it gave me a link to Goodreads list of Canada books. Was this actually based in Canada? I can’t remember! But the book is super spooky and a good read!
This one is easy, of course I’ll go with Anna and the French Kiss for obvious reasons. I don’t remember much of this plot, but I did enjoy the book.
I’ve stumped myself, do you know of any good YA books set in Spain?
I’ll go with New Moon because a portion of this novel happens in Italy. When I think of Italy, I immediately imagine Bella running through the festival there to prevent Edward from exposing the vampires in an attempt of vampire suicide.