Category Archives: review


The dinosaurs are back at the Minnesota Zoo and this year we decided to walk through with the kids. It costs extra, and I’m still not sure if it’s quite worth the extra cost. I think if it was just Josh and I we would have felt it had been a waste, but the kids seemed to enjoy it and watching their reactions was worth it.


Enzo was stoked when we saw the first dinosaurs, but then his focus became more about seeing a T-Rex and only a T-Rex. We had a hard time getting him to slow down and not skipping everything in between. Phoebe took some warming up. We had to convince her that the dinosaurs were not in fact real, but because they were animatronic she didn’t quite believe us at first.


If it hadn’t been for the baby dinosaurs, I think Josh might have had to carry her the whole way through, but as soon as I saw one, she scampered over and was all, “Ahhh, cute!”



There was Jurassic Park music in the background and various facts along the trail that we didn’t really have time to read because… kids, but it was fun to walk through and not overly crowded or hot thanks to shade here and there.


Once we finally made it to the T-Rex, Enzo was excited for about 5 seconds while Phoebe jumped into Josh’s arms and had to once again be convinced that she wasn’t going to get eaten or anything.


By far the kids favorite part of the dinosaur exhibit was the end wherein they got to crawl in big dinosaur eggs and we all got Icees because it was so hot out. So, all in all the kids gave the dinosaurs exhibit a thumbs up, but more so for the Icees.


The Last of the Soda

Well, we have officially finished off our last of the fun soda. I think it’s safe to say that I probably won’t be quite as adventurous in the future and will stick with more normal flavors and just assume that Ranch Dressing flavored soda will taste like poop.


Both the Blue Raspberry and Pineapple Whip were really good, which is probably no surprise. The perfect amount of sweetness and definitely good choices.


Is it really a surprise that Maple Syrup soda was disgusting?  I think the most disappointing part is that most of these strange flavors haven’t even tasted close to what they’re supposed to be mimicking. At no point did I think, “Wow, it tastes like breakfast.”  No. It tasted like bad. Really, really bad.


You really can’t go wrong with Root Beer, but it’s always fun to try different kinds. This one wasn’t my favorite, but it was still a pretty darn good Root Beer.


With a name like Corn Squeezin, you have to try it and despite it’s name it was actually citrus flavored and really refreshing and light.  The Peaches and Cream was also really tasty, though, it had kind of a funny aftertaste.



The Blueberry and Prickly Pear were both awesome. We actually had  a hard time deciding who would get which after trying them both, but in the end I grabbed the Blueberry because of it’s slight grape aftertaste and Josh is not a fan of grapes. I would buy both again, for sure.


You can’t go wrong with Vanilla Creme, but I admit I had high hopes for the Espresso Cola.  I probably should have looked at the ingredients, though. It was Spiced Espresso Cola and I think it would have been so much better without the added “Spice.”


There was just too much going on with the coffee and cinnamon bark and Cayenne and other unlisted spices.  It was unfortunately a really bad explosion of flavors in my mouth and I didn’t care for the combo at all. It was a bizarre sensation.


Thankfully I had a backup soda, though, in case the Espresso Cola didn’t work out. Spring grove usually has good sodas and we’ve tried their others in the past. Nothing better than a nice classic orange drink, am I right?

So… I guess now we either need to go buy more sodas or move onto the next weird thing.

Soda Roundup So Far…

We’re making our way through our case of sodas and while there have been mostly hits, there have also been some misses, which I guess shouldn’t be all that surprising.  So, a quick rundown.


I could do without Rowdy Roddy Piper’s Bubble Gum Soda.  It tasted exactly like medicine you get as a kid that you are told will taste good because it’s Bubble Gum, but it just tastes sweet and pink and also gross.  Josh wasn’t as disgusted as I was and finished it.


The Key Lime Pie only disappointed a little. It was really good – don’t get me wrong – it just didn’t have as much lime flavoring as I was hoping for.


If you assume that buying Bacon soda is just a bad idea, you are correct.  Maybe if it had tasted a tad more like bacon it wouldn’t have been as terrible as it was, but it really only vaguely tasted like bacon and one sip was all that I needed. Josh may have taken a few more sips before he poured this one down the drain.


This was a fabulous grape soda.  Even Josh who doesn’t like grape flavored beverages agreed that this was a good one. Definitely a favorite so far.


I don’t typically buy banana flavored anything, so this was Josh’s pick, but it was really good.  It tasted exactly like a banana flavored Runt and would be fabulous mixed with a little rum.


Another win, but we both thought it would have been better if the honey flavor was stronger. You could only just barely taste it, but it was creamy and delicious.


You can’t really go wrong with a plain old Vanilla Cream and this one was pretty tasty, although probably not the best vanilla cream I’ve had.


I really had high hopes for the Peanut Butter and Jelly.  Maybe that was foolish.  I’m not gonna lie, though, I think it was possibly worse than the bacon flavored soda and tasted nothing like PB&J… at all. I don’t know what exactly the taste was, but Josh’s face sums it up.


Soda Sampling

We decided to let the kids have their first taste of soda this weekend when we cracked open a couple of bottles from the Blue Sun Soda Shop.  We don’t really drink soda very often anymore (at least I don’t), but every so often it’s a fun sweet treat. We also figured it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we allowed the kids a couple sips of caffeine-free soda for the first time.


We started off with this amazingly yummy caramel cream root beer. So smooth and tasty. Enzo was a fan, but Phoebe was on the fence.




The next up was this orange soda that Josh picked out. Not surprisingly, he chose the Gamer soda, but we both found it kind of ironic that the Gamer soda was non-caffeinated.



Josh and I thought it was okay. The orange flavor was really light and it was very fizzy.  We’re pretty sure that’s why the kids gave it a thumbs down.




Granted, it didn’t stop Enzo from giving it a second chance.  He determined it was still yucky, though. Both kids were done with soda after our little taste test and had zero desire to try anymore the next day. I seem to have forgotten the photos of those, however, and therefore can’t even remember which one I chose.



I have a feeling the kids won’t be asking for soda anytime soon, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ha ha.

Oh!  Just remembered – the next day I tried a Key Lime Pie soda and Josh had a bubble gum flavored one. I’m going to try and post photos and keep track of all the flavors we try.

2015 Reading Stats

A slightly edited version of Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner’s End of Year Survey.

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read:  43
Number of Re-Reads:  2 (The last two Harry Potter books)
Genre You Read The Most From:  It looks like I did a lot of YA reading this year.  Even more so than I thought!

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

Did I mention I hate making decisions?   This is difficult because a few stuck out for me, so I’m going with that.

The Storied life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Hmm… this is a hard one. I suppose the only one that comes to mind is Shadows of the Workhouse (the second in the Call the Midwife series).  I knew there weren’t going to be as many midwifery stories, but there really weren’t any at all and while it’s still interesting I was a little disappointed at the lack of babies and birthing. It was really a depressing read when all is said and done.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill was certainly surprising in both good and bad ways. I always knew there were weird things about Scientology, but actually reading a firsthand account of just how cult-like and bizarre of a religion it is was fascinating, and there were aspects that did surprise me. Unfortunately I was also surprised at just how much it dragged and how dull it was at times.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Martian by Andy Weir. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I definitely recommend the book and keep pestering my husband to read it because he reminds me of Mark Watney (the main character).

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

I’m going to go with Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.  I have issues with a few things, and the first book was only okay, but overall I found them entertaining and I kept going back for more. I’m just finishing up Queen of Shadows and it’s grown on me. I can look past some of the more bothersome things that irk me thanks to some interesting (if mildly annoying) characters and decent writing.  As far as Series enders go… I didn’t really read any that I haven’t before (HP).

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Liane Moriarty. I will be reading the rest of her books in the upcoming year and hopefully won’t be disappointed. Her style of writing is right up my alley and I’m looking forward to more books in the future.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I read a lot of YA fiction this year, which is not typical for me, and one of the better books I read ended up being Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I was expecting something more saccharin after reading the synopsis, but it was in fact more bittersweet. Rowell has a way with words and I think nailed writing from a teenager’s perspective.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I’m going to say it was probably The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  I read this while traveling and didn’t want to put it down. The story was intriguing and I wanted to know what happened next and what twists and turns were around the corner.  I’m looking forward to seeing it turned into a film – I enjoyed it so much more than Gone Girl.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Possibly the Harry Potter ones if I do HP December next year, but that’s likely it as I have so many new books that I want to read.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple has a cover I really like, and I’m not even really sure why. Maybe it’s the bright palette and simplicity and air of mystery that makes you want to pick up the book and find out more about Bernadette.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

I loved Claire and James from Outlander and loved watching the first season of the show. I’m getting ready to start the second book and by far they are my favorite characters from this year. I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was beautifully written and lived up to the hype. I loved that with so many apocalyptic books out there, this one manages to still be unique.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  While I didn’t make as many changes as I meant to, I really have started looking at my belongings in a different way and plan on getting rid of a lot more next year. It’s much easier now to look at what surrounds me and if it doesn’t bring joy and isn’t useful… it doesn’t belong.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

This is going to sound redundant, but Outlander!  Despite being long, it was easy to read and I actually felt like the love story was more realistic than a lot of other romances I’ve read in recent years.  I thought it might be a tad cheesy with the whole time travel aspect, but I could not have been more wrong.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”
― Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven

“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on”
― Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

According to Goodreads:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was the longest (896 pp)


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (211 pp)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

I have really enjoyed Liane Moriarty this year and one of the best things about her books is how you can’t stop reading and how she loves to throw in a good plot twist or surprise.  I think with each of her books that I read I had moments where I stayed up later than I meant to because of some unexpected plot twist that I had to dive into further.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Is it really any surprise that I’m going to say Jamie and Clare from Outlander?

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The relationship between A.J. and his daughter, Maya in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Maya comes into A.J’s life unexpectedly and their relationship is very endearing.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I have been a Jodi Picoult fan for a long time, so I’m going to go with The Storyteller on this one. She is such a good writer and it’s hard not to become connected with her characters.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I started reading both the Selection series and Throne of Glass series based solely on blog recommendations. I read a lot of YA this year based on blog recommendations and I’m enjoying the change.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Either Jamie from Outlander or Rowan from Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows (Sarah. J. Mass).

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

The Girl on the Train. I think it was actually the only 2015 debut I read because I’m massively behind. This book got a lot of hype and for once, I agree. Much like the book Gone Girl, who it is often compared to, this book has a variety of characters that leave you with very mixed emotions.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Without a doubt Diana Gabaldon knows how to make you feel as though you’ve actually stepped back in time. Sure, some details may be a bit unnecessary as her books are very long already, but I find the historical tidbits to be interesting nonetheless and like I’m better able to imagine life in the 18th century.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

As You Wish by Cary Elwes was an amusing look behind the scenes of one of the best movies of all time, The Princess Bride.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a fun read that may not have been hidden, but didn’t get as much attention as I think it should have. It was a fun, cute read with a quirky and socially awkward genetics professor who hasn’t much luck dating. He starts The Wife Project and ends up meeting Rosie who is the exact opposite of everything that would make a good wife.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. It was incredibly difficult to read such graphic depictions of life in a Concentration camp and the treatment of those trapped under Nazi regime. It took me longer than usual to read just because there were many times I had to set it aside because of just how much it made me want to cry.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

The most unique book was a YA novel from the 50’s called Donna Parker, Special Agent. It was a quick and easy read and made me laugh a lot thanks to typical 50’s stereotypes and just how much things have changed in 60 years.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I’m going to say The Ghost Boy By Martin Pistorius, but only because I was so disgusted by how he was treated at times. I can’t imagine being trapped inside your own body and being so disregarded and misused by people who are supposed to look after you. It was a really inspiring and fascinating story, though.

Your Bookish/Blogging Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

Super Space Chick

Perpetual Page Turner

2. Best Bookish Discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? – I’m expecting my first order soon!

3.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I set a Goodreads Reading Challenge for myself this past year to read 26 books and ended up reading 42, so apparently I need to set a higher goal for myself this coming year.

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

There are a few, but I do want to check out Sarah J. Maas some more and read A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, especially because the second season of Outlander will also be coming out in 2016 and I have to read the book first!

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I’m looking forward to checking out The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. I’m apparently a sucker for time travel and this one sounds promising.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

I am looking forward to reading the next Sarah J. Maas book in the Throne of Glass series. I’m really interested in seeing what happens with a few of the characters introduced in the last two books, particularly Manon.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

I definitely plan on reading more books in 2016.  I haven’t decided on a goal yet, but I want to push myself next year now that the kids are older and it’s easier to find time to read.  I also want to try and review more books next year – I always find them helpful to read when others write them.