A Weekend in Branson, MO, and a Review of Instructions for Dancing

For our anniversary weekend, my husband Michael and I drove up to Branson, Missouri. I had never visited this area of Missouri before, and Michael was excited to spend time at Silver Dollar City, a theme park by the creators of Dollywood.

Accommodation: Chateau on the Lake

We stayed at Chateau on the Lake, a very nice hotel and spa that has an interior like that of many Embassy Suites. It sits atop a hill so you can’t miss it. I believe it has 10 floors. Our mountain-view room was on the 9th floor and had a king-sized bed with a nice bathroom. The hotel features a large pool, a spa, a sweet shop that offers baked goods and coffee, a restaurant, a tennis court, and a boat dock for those looking to spend some time out on the lake. The hotel staff were all very friendly and accommodating. I would definitely stay here again!

Entertainment and Eats

The first night there, we walked around the Branson Landing outdoor shopping plaza and ate dinner at Black Oak Grill, a casual-dining American cuisine restaurant. The food was good, the service was excellent, and the meal was affordable.

At Silver Dollar City, on the Wildfire roller coaster observation deck.

The next day, we went to Silver Dollar City, one of Branson’s main attractions. It was a pleasant surprise. I’m honestly not big on western-country type theme parks, but it was a very beautiful park with lots of shade and natural beauty. This family-friendly park had something for people of all ages, with rides for small children to coasters for teens and adults. There also were quite a few shops and entertainment shows, and the park was very clean. I can’t recall seeing one piece of litter or overflowing trash bin. (Feel free to check out our video of our time at Silver Dollar City on YouTube.)

For dinner, we ate at an Italian restaurant called Florentina’s Ristorante Italiano. It was pretty reasonably priced and the food was very good! We did have to wait about 45 minutes before being seated, but it was a Friday, so I’m sure that’s why it was so busy. I’m not sure if it was authentic Italian, but it was much more authentic than an Olive Garden! I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a nicer dinner at an affordable price.

After dinner, we decided to get a little bit of exercise playing mini golf at Pirate’s Cove. I was pleasantly surprised with this mini golf park. It was very well themed and had some nice lighting, perfect for a little date night! My husband and I haven’t really had a date night in a while due to COVID-19 and a lot of places being closed or limiting their indoor seating.

The following day, we planned to go to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk but were disappointed that they did not have tickets available for us until late afternoon. So we decided to go to Tanger Outlets, which had a lot of my favorite shops.

Featured Bookstore: Book Warehouse at Tanger Outlets

I managed to buy three books from the bookstore Book Warehouse, where there was a 3-for-$20 (three $7.99 books) deal. They also had a 4-for-$20 (four $5.99 books) deal, but I couldn’t find four books I wanted to read.

Afterwards, we had lunch at Heroes Tastes and Taps restaurant, a very affordable casual dining eatery, perfect for lunch. Once it was finally time to head to the aquarium, we were disappointed at what it actually was. Rather than an aquarium, Aquarium at the Boardwalk was more like a kiddie experience geared toward smaller children. The cost was $35 per adult, and $19 per child, if I remember correctly, and it took us maybe 30 minutes to walk through the entire thing. You might like this little event if you have children, but otherwise, don’t waste your money.

Other than that, we had a great time! Branson is a town that I could see us visiting again in the future, especially once we have children. At every place we went to, the service was friendly and excellent, especially at our hotel.

Now onto the book review!

Book Overview

Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

My Verdict: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon is a Must Read

I received this book for my June Book of the Month. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon is a book I was very excited to read, having loved Yoon’s other novels Everything Everything and The Sun is Also a Star. I’m giving this book 5 stars, as it thoroughly kept me entertained and laughing.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 stars)

– 💖 Romance
– 😢 Emotional
– 👩‍👧‍👧 Family Drama

I especially liked the main character Evie, as I could relate to her a lot. The book begins with her throwing out her romance novels, having lost her love of them while dealing with her parents’ divorce. Although this book definitely has some romance in it, it is also about friendship, family, and loss. Evie must navigate it all while also discovering her new ability to see a couple’s future after seeing them kiss. (If this part sounds a little too sci-fi for you, I promise, this book is not about a teenage girl discovering her supernatural powers.)

Evie’s new ability leads her to the dance studio where she learns to ballroom dance with X. I really liked the character X. Being sensitive and passionate, he balances out Evie’s skeptical personality. I enjoyed reading them fall for each other.

I don’t have many critiques for this book other than that I had so many questions regarding the ending. I won’t go into detail about it as that would ruin it for you, but I very much wanted the story to continue. I also felt that there could have been more scenes detailing the dance competition and the dance lessons, since the name of the book is called Instructions for Dancing. Most of the book focused on Evie and X’s romance and Evie’s family and friendships.

If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, you’ll probably like this book. Other similar novels include: Better Together by Christina Riccio, Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, and Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton.

I really appreciate you reading/listening! If you have read this book, please let me know what you thought of it! I love reading your comments. Until then, see you next time.

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