Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Recap

Am I down to only every-other-month recaps?  I hope not...

Let's talk about what I read this month:

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith. In this, an 18-year-old girl, who has been dealt a bad hand at life, buys a lottery ticket for her best friend (secret love) and he wins millions. Millions and millions of dollars. I really enjoyed this one. It's definitely a quintessential coming-of-age YA story where everything works out in the end, but sometimes we need lighthearted fun books. Especially in summer. Don't let the lighthearted nature fool you though; I definitely cried more than I thought I would.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. I was killing the YA game in July. I loved this one. This is the story of Maddy, the girl who was allergic to the world, and Olly, the mysterious boy who moved in next door. I loved Maddy. I loved Olly. I loved Carla. I want to play phonetic scrabble. And I was so so surprised by the twist - I legit never saw it coming. That's the best kind of twist, right? Also - top notch flirting in this one. Perfect for summer.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. You guys! This. Was. Perfection. Listen to it on audio, if you can. There's a full cast production, complete with music, which is so important to the story. Echo tells the story of three children growing up during World War II all over the world, mysteriously linked together by a magical harmonica. It was a Newberry Honor for a reason.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Yet another twist that I did not see coming. I flew threw this one in a matter of hours. Who is Evelyn Hugo? Why was she married seven times? (I would have given up long before number seven.) Any why on earth does she want Monique Grant, virtually unknown writer, to tell her story?

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin. I heard about this one from Hannah at So Obsessed With. See her review here. I would never have picked this book up on my own, even though it's set during WWII, my favorite era. And is a WWII alternate history telling, another fave. The motorcycle race that is the center of the story would have thrown me off. I'm so so glad I took Hannah's recommendation and listened to this on audible anyway. The narration is fantastic. The story moves at a frantic clip. There are so many twists and turns that I audibly gasped at several points in the story. If that's not enough to sell you, I'll leave with this - I am counting down the days until my next audible credit so I can get the sequel (only nine more to go).

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson. A little back story - I've only read one of Joshilyn Jackson book prior to Someone Else's Love Story, and that was Gods in Alabama. I listened to it on audio, but being from the south, I had a really hard time with the affected southern accent given to the characters. But Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy and What Should I Read Next? Podcast) always raves about her, so I hadn't written her entirely off yet. I just wasn't in a hurry to binge all of her book. But then, several months later, I saw an essay by her in the AJC about her work teaching creative writing to inmates in the women's maximum security prison in Atlanta. Hold up... She's Atlanta based? And does such a good deed on a regular basis? Perhaps it's time to give it another shot. So I read the essay and loved her writing; much more than I loved listening to it. I decided to try out her other book I hear about most from Anne Bogel, Someone Else's Love Story. It was delightful. So cute. I loved Shandi, her son Natty, and Will. And I loved that the story was wrapped up in the tidiest of tidy bows. No loose ends. Sometimes you just need that, right? Needless to say, I picked up The Almost Sisters (her latest) this weekend and am strongly considering joining the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club just to hear her author talk. AND while I was browsing the bookstore, The Almost Sisters in hand, this woman came up to me to talk about it and said that Joshilyn Jackson went to high school with her husband and she just loves her books so much and that her name is pronounced JOSSilyn, not JOSHilyn. (We also talked about Fredrik Backman, so we're basically best friends now).

Life things to recap:

I visited a winery for the first time and did a wine tasting and it was so. much. fun.  I left spending $75 on three bottles of wine, which I'm sure is revealing to you all how uncultured I am, but whatever. I usually go for the $5-$10 bottle of Barefoot Moscato at the grocery store on the rare occasion that I do buy wine, so this was a pretty serious upgrade.

So where did I go?  I went to Chateau Elan, a winery here outside of Atlanta. The statue lady pictured above is a grape stomping woman from the winery.  I didn't realize how close it was to my house (not super close - about an hour and a half away); I always thought it was up in North Georgia somewhere and would take me like four hours to get there.  I took my mom as a belated 50th birthday present.  I wanted to do something special for her last year for her 50th, but I was too broke then.  As soon as I could afford it, I booked the room and the wine tasting.

We also hit up the Mall of Georgia, where I kept my spending very on-brand and bought clothes for Isla and books for us both.  :-)

Also in July, my little family took a trip to the beach for a weekend.  One last getaway before Pre-K.  We went to Destin, FL and had the best time even though we were only there for a weekend and all got sunburned despite my diligent sunscreen application/reapplication.  (Those little footprints slay me.)

Other than that, I've been listening to lots of great podcasts (post forthcoming), watching lots of Doctor Who, and I saw Dunkirk.


Congratulations if you made it to the end of this super long post. Perhaps I should post more, so I'll have less to say in one sitting.

Anyway, tell me about your July!  What did you read/watch/do?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Big Reads: May(ish) Recap

Hi guys! I'm back! I can't believe it's been so long since my last post. I feel like I've forgotten how to do everything. It makes sense though... I started a new job in March (which I love), but things have definitely been different. For starters, I fell down the Outlander rabbit hole and didn't think I would ever emerge. I've been reading a ton, but haven't had (made) much time for blogging and instagramming.

Let's dive back in with the best books I've read lately. All in May, except for Outlander. Hence the May(ish) update.

Exit West by Moshin Hamid. Can a roller coaster be slow moving? Or is that just hills? Either way, that's how this book felt to me. It was very interesting - I love Nadia and Saeed and the journey they took. I loved how strong and fierce Nadia was. Saeed was ok. I didn't love him as much as Nadia.  Even though this had some fantastical elements (just one really - doorways that become portals to different parts of the world,) it's pretty much a refugee story. One that is pretty timely and eye opening.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. The title is misleading. It's actually a book van. Apparently this is the U.S. title, but the U.K. title is the name of the book van, The Little Shop of Happily Ever After. Granted, the U.S. title is a better title, but the U.K. one makes more sense with the story.

The Dry by Jane Harper. There has been so much buzz surrounding this book! I thought it was pretty good. The whodunnit twist caught me entirely by surprise. I really likes Falk, though I had a hard time picturing him as he's described. (White blonde hair, blue eyes, super pale skin - I feel like he wouldn't survive in the Australian outback. Wouldn't he just be one giant sunburn?) The atmosphere in this book though - made me hot and thirsty just reading it. This is the first in a series and I can't wait to see where it goes.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I didn't want to like this book. I definitely had no intention of ever reading it, even though readers I love highly recommended it. But then it was a kindle daily deal, and I just can't resist those. I frickin loved it. I think I read it in one sitting, it was so engaging. It's the story of Emma Blair who marries her high school sweetheart and they live happily ever after. At least until just before their first anniversary, when his helicopter goes down over the Pacific ocean and he's presumed dead. A few years later, Emma has moved on and is engaged again when she gets a phone call from her husband saying that he's alive and he's coming home. Cue gasp. I loved this story so much. I though the bookshop was fantastic. I loved the evolution of her relationship with her sister was wonderful. I loved her parents and both of these wonderful men in her life. I loved Emma and her growth and change as a person from a young newlywed to a woman who has experienced the hard things life has given her and come through not just in tact, but stronger than before. Plus there was some top notch flirting in this book. Just a wonderful read. Also, the only reason I picked The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as one of the Book of the Month picks for June. I must read more Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. What is there to say about Outlander that hasn't already been said. If, like me, you've been holding out on reading these books for whatever reason, just read them already. They're endlessly entertaining. They're funny and dramatic and romantic and suspenseful and Jamie Fraser is the best fictional man that has ever been written. The show is ok - the books are way way better. I especially loved the ending of the latest book.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Big Reads: February Recap

February was a... challenging... reading month for me. It certainly didn't help that I started off the month with what will probably be the best book I read all year.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You guys. This book. I don't have enough wonderful things to say about it. And it it beloved by many. My Instagram post about it got the most likes and comments I think any of my posts have ever gotten. I checked Guernsey out from the library, but I'll definitely by buying a copy soon so that I can re-read it forever. I loved Juliet and how spunky and smart and funny and quick witted she was. And Dawsey? Easily the best book boyfriend there has ever been. Read this one ASAP.

Big Little Lies was my book club's February pick and I loved it. I hurried to read it before the HBO series started and it was an absolute roller coaster. I did not see the ending coming (who died or who killed them) but I loved all the characters and I'm really enjoying the show as well. Have you read this one? Are you watching the show?

Gods In Alabama was very "meh" for me. This was recommended on the What Should I Read Next? podcast, and while Anne Bogel's recommendations are usually spot on for me, this one was not. I should have known to stay away because I don't really like the "southern fiction" sub genre, but the audio was a daily deal, and well... you know how that goes. I didn't love the accents (too over the top) and I was a little uncomfortable hearing the f word so often from that syrupy sweet southern voice, even though I have no problems with the f word in general (as long as it isn't being said in front of my daughter.) I didn't hate it though. I was surprised by the ending. I really liked Burr. And them love scenes tho... Also, the palmetto bug scene had me looking over my shoulder for rest of the day. My southern peeps know what I'm talking about. Those things are no joke.

I did not like The Girl Before. The further I get away from reading it, the more I dislike it. It was definitely a page turner, but that's where the good stuff ends. This story is told from the perspective of two women who lived in the same house at different points in time. The girl from the past died in the house and the current resident tries to find out why. I'm pretty sure that every single character was insane. That plus the authors use of "I'm like" and "she goes" to describe conversations killed the atmosphere for me.

What Alice Forgot had a very interesting premise. Alice, age 39, falls of her stationary bike, hits her head, and doesn't remember anything from the past ten years. The last thing she remembers is being pregnant with her first child and happily married, but when she wakes up, she has three kids and is in the middle of a divorce. I enjoyed this one. I read it quickly, but of the two Liane Moriarty books I've read now, I would recommend Big Little Lies.

And I also read the Checkmate Duo - This Is War and This Is Love and they were trashy romance novels that I read in a day each. Just to keep it real and you guys don't think I'm above such reading. I'm not and they're a good way to get out of a slump - anything you can power through and keep up reading momentum.

Man, if only I approached fitness the way I do reading...

What did you read in February that I need to add to my TBR for March?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Edit no. 6

It's Friday! And my last full week at my current job! I'm working three days next week, and then moving on to a new job the following Monday. I have a lot to be excited about.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Linky loves this week:
  • Love this post from Andrea at Born Read Chicago about Developing a Reading Habit
  • This Buy the Book from So Obsessed With is fantastic.
  • I'm hungry and this looks amazing.
  • I'm making these power muffins this weekend to have for breakfast all week. They look delish.
  • As someone who suffers from adult acne, this is fascinating.
It's also my anniversary tomorrow! How are my husband and I celebrating? We're painting our bedroom like the cool kids we are. But it's date night tonight! And I'm going to try to see La La Land tomorrow night.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Books That Are Just Plain Fun

You all were sooo encouraging on my post earlier this week about being in a reading slump! I gave up on Anna Karenina. For now, at least. Maybe I'll try again another time. But for me right now? I'm done.

The day after that post went live, I was listening to one of my new favorite podcasts, Awesome with Alison. In Episode 3, she talked about how important having fun is. A lightbulb went off, guys. That's why I read. That's my fun activity. So without further ado, here are 10 books that are just plain fun to read (plus the one I'm reading to get me out of my slump.)

The Harry Potter series. Can you talk about reading for fun without mentioning Harry Potter? I certainly can't. I absolutely love these books. Especially on audio. I've mentioned them on the blog several times, but Jim Dale's narration of these books is magical and utterly without fault. I just finished listening to Deathly Hallows and I'm strongly considering starting back over at the beginning.

Shades of Grey - no, not that one. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Jasper Fforde is better known for his Thursday Next series, which I haven't read, but Shades of Grey? It's fantastic. Society is divided up into a cast system based on what colors you can see, and there's a hierarchy based on those colors. Eddie Russet (a red) wants to move up in the hierarchy, but his plans to marry into a powerful family are derailed after meeting a grey named Jane. This book is fun and fast paced and I want more, but there hasn't been any news about the previously promised sequels in a long time.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. These books are hilarious. I love Mindy. I thought she was brilliant as Kelly Kapoor on The Office (only my favorite show of all time) and I love her new show The Mindy Project. She's so funny and so smart and so talented, and I basically wish we were best friends. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is more memoir while Why Not Me? is a series of essays about life in Hollywood. Both amazing. Both hilarious. And you should read (or listen - read by Mindy herself!) to both of these books.

Contrary to the contents of this list, I don't read a ton of chick lit or romance novels, but Agnes and the Hitman is one of the few books I have read multiple times. What do you get when you put together a food critic, an actual hitman, a dognapper, and a big southern wedding? Zany is the best way to describe it. Zany, funny, and fun.

The Assistants takes a crazy premise and makes it almost believable. Tina Fontana is a thirty something executive assistant to the CEO of a multinational media conglomorate. One day after seeing said CEO spend the entire balance of her student loans on a single flight, she accidentally double submits his expense report and pays off her loans. This quickly spirals out of control as more people find out about it, but what a ride we take along with Tina. Can you imagine being able to pay off your student loans in one fell swoop?

Dark Matter - talk about a page turner! This was probably the most fun and exciting book I read last year. Jason Dessen is walking home from a bar one night when someone whacks him over the head. When he comes to, a familiar voice asks him, "Are you happy with your life?" Then he wakes up in an entirely different world. Completely insane. Super fast paced. It left me breathless until the last page.

The Stephanie Plum series. This series has a lot of books in it. A lot. 23 at last count (plus 4 holiday books, I think) I haven't read all of them, I think I've read through 18 or 19 of them. But you guys, they are so so funny. No one gets in so much trouble as Stephanie and Lula. These are fun and funny and each one revolves around a single mystery. They're quick, easy reads and the main dudes are delish. (Team Ranger forever.)

The Royal We by the Fug Girls (Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan) is a basically Prince William/Kate Middleton fan fiction. And I loved it. This was one of the first books I checked out when I discovered my local library (it took me too long.) I'm not super into the royals, so I don't think you have to be to enjoy this story. Will and Kate are instead Nick and Bex and Bex is American. There's a Pippa (Bex's twin sister) and a Harry too (called Freddie here.) This book was fun and funny and was everything that a good romance novel should be.

Another series - The Raven Cycle. YA, mystery, fantasy, magic, ghosts, psychics, cute boys, and badass girls. What's not to love?

And finally, the current front runner for favorite book of the year (I know it's only February, but it's going to be hard to top this one.) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. When I first heard about this book, I was very hesitant. I like quirky, but that title seemed just a little too quirky to me. I didn't know much about it and I think that made all the difference in my ultimate love for it, so I'm not going to talk about the plot. I will tell you only this: this story was so heartwarming and charmingly told that when I finished it, I wanted to go right back to page one and start it all over.

So what am I reading now to get out of my slump? I'm so glad you asked! My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella.  I'm not too far into it, but it's light and fun and just what I needed to revive my reading life.

Tell me about your last reading slump and how you got over it.