Books of the Month: September 2020

Yinz, how is it almost OCTOBER? I really can’t handle how fast this year is slipping by, is it just me? I’ve managed to read 44 books, which is still insane to me, having initially set my reading goal at 30 books for the entire year. Can I make it to 60? We’ll see! Here are the books I read this month:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was…okay? I had heard from several people that it was a good read, but it did not do that much for me. It was slow to read and the story was…okay? It was about a New York man who becomes wrapped up in the lives of many people in Savannah, GA, one of whom ends up on trial for murder. I was expecting some shocking twist, but nothing ever came. Would pass.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier was another home run from Abbi Waxman. This book made me want to hug my mom. It’s about a relationship between a forty something mom and her teenage daughter, as they go on a college tour trip on the east coast. I really liked that one of the main tones was that college isn’t for everyone, and it’s a rat race to get into a good college, followed by a rat race to make money until you die, which is SO TRUE and no one talks about it.

A Man Called Ove made my heart burst with joy and tears. It’s really a roller coaster of emotions, but Ove reminded me of my grandfather, a man a few words and fewer emotions. It also makes you think about how you don’t know what other people around you are truly going through and not to judge a book by it’s cover (not literally here). Would recommend ASAP.

Parable of the Sower, was OOF. Octavia Butler kills it again. A dystopian novel about 2024-2027, written in 1993, the United States are divided, climate change is mostly to cause, and it’s everyone for themselves. Water is scarce, and costs more per gallon than gasoline. Lauren, the main character, is trying to survive and make her way to safety she hopes to find in the north. It’s a crazy tale, but I could see it becoming a reality if we continue to ignore climate change and its effects on our world. It was a slow read, but worthwhile.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was a ugly and wonderful novel. Wavy is a young girl when she befriends Kellen, one of her father’s (adult) drug thugs. They grow close and as she gets older, they become more than friends. It made me uncomfortable since it skittered around pedophilia, but the way the story was written made me root for Wavy and Kellan’s relationship. I think, while the nature of their relationship, was, er, unconventional, they really cared for one another, and Kellan tried hard to not cross any lines until Wavy was of age.

If I had to tell you to read one book from this month, it would be A Man Called Ove. It was a wonderful story about people and connecting and made me laugh and cry. Absolute gem. I’m currently reading Pachinko, and hope to read Anxious People and A Woman is No Man in October. What are you reading?

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 39

I’ve really be struggling this week with the news and the country and all that jazz, so trying to share happy things that got me through this week.

can you imagine having a cat this cute?
  1. It’s been a week since her death and while Republican leadership has been quick to get over her death, RBG has been on my mind all week. I found this piece she wrote for the NYT in 2016 very comforting, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living.
  2. GBBO is back! Very curious how they’re handling COVID with the new season but I’m so happy it’s back. My favorite bake this week was the pineapple upside cakes, a dessert we made a lot in my family growing up (though ours were from a box…). Here is Paul Hollywood’s recipe!
  3. Loved this more personal piece about Kamala Harris, it was encouraging to hear about where she was at 28 and that she loves cooking as a stress reliever! SAME.
  4. Is it ethical to bring a child into this dying world? I found this article to be a really interesting perspective on a question I hadn’t much thought of. I think I found it most interesting that it was important to consider that a child would more than likely take on the kind of life its parents lived, so the core idea is that it matters more how you’re reacting to climate change and altering your lifestyle to help to Earth. Which is something we ALL need to be doing.
  5. AD toured Hilary Duff’s LA home, and I LOVE her kitchen. Also love her decor style throughout the house, and honestly, just love her overall.
  6. Yay David Yay! Schitt’s Creek swept the Emmy’s last weekend and to say I was over the moon is an understatement. So happy for all the folks from the show who won; it was well deserved for bringing a show together focused on acceptance and love, which is something we all need to focus a bit more on.
  7. Any musical fans out there? I recently discovered the show, Hadestown and I am OBSESSED with the soundtrack. I would love to the see the show in person, but obviously not sure when that will happen. For now, I’ll just keep rewatching the cast’s Tiny Desk Concert. “Come Home With Me” makes my heart want to burst, tbh.

Happy week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 38

It was a good week (until Friday of course), but we’ve been trying to make plans for coming back to the East Coast for the holidays. Should we only come for ~2 weeks at Christmas, and board our cat, OR fly in before Thanksgiving and stay through Christmas, bringing our cat with us on the plane? I know these are things people do all the time (mainly flying with cats), I just feel SO bad at the thought of putting her through all that stress. It is nice that we could both work anywhere, AND it would be great to see family and friends. Though who knows how bad COVID will be come the holidays, so who knows how much we could even see our family and friends. *sigh. So much to decide (and if you know me, I hate decisions, I get anxious that I haven’t made a decision which makes it even harder).

These cookies are SO tasty!
  1. To say I was devastated when I heard about the passing of RBG is an understatement. Ruth, thank you for everything you did to fight for gender equality and for working tirelessly to ensure this democracy was one of fairness and equality for all. You deserve the rest.
  2. If you can, please consider donating in honor of RBG to Amy McGrath who is up for election against Mitch McConnell. On Friday, McConnell announced the Senate would push forward with trying to elect a new justice this year, only hours after it was announced RBG had passed, and that her dying wish was that her seat would be replaced under the new president. But Mitch, what happened to your stance 4 years ago?
  3. This past week was Mexican Independence Day. For those of you who aren’t clear, there’s a difference between Mexican Independence Day and Cinco De Mayo. I honestly didn’t know the difference either, since we only covered important white people events in my education, so this article was very insightful.
  4. Converse came out with their ¡Mi Gente! Collection and a friend/old co-worker of mine was one of the Latina designers who came up the concept and designed a shoe style. Love seeing her work and culture showcased in this way!
  5. These Neapolitan Cookies are delicious, also see how cute they look above! I got the recipe from 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer, but Hummingbird High posted an adapted recipe and I had to share!
  6. Did anyone see this coming? Paris Hilton revealed her real voice, and that she was playing a character for the last several years. I am shocked, but also sad she felt the need to do that? As a blonde, I’ve also purposely played dumb at certain times, though I hate to admit it. I also heard her documentary, The Real Story of Paris Hilton, is really good, but haven’t had time to watch.
  7. It’s the first day of fall this coming week! And what better way to celebrate than a trip to Trader Joe’s to get all the fall foods! The pumpkin waffles, pumpkin bread mix and spiced cider are some of my TJ fall favs!

Wishing everyone a beautiful week ahead and happy Fall!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 37

Another week gone by, stuck inside, this time due to wildfires and unsafe air. We did go for a beach walk today even though we probably should have stayed inside, but lung damage be damned. I haven’t been in the best space mentally from all this staying inside so it was well worth it. I love California but it’s getting a bit tiresome, one thing after another and being forced to stay inside. We did try Persian food this weekend, which was really good and I finished another book (A Man Called Ove, love!). Still trying to see the positives…

Pumpkin Swirl Muffins (FALL)
  1. Like I mentioned (don’t know how you wouldn’t have heard), wildfires are raging in California, here are ways you can help. The most important way you can help is by voting come November for elected officials who care about climate change.
  2. 9/11 was this past week, which marked 19 years since a very tragic day in American History; however, the tragic events of 9/11 will forever overshadow how the event itself fueled Islamophobia in this country, making it hell for thousands of Muslim Americans for many years to come.
  3. Stuck with student loans? Same. Worried about whether you should be paying your loans (that may have had payments paused), or saving for a possible layoff or illness? Same! I found this guide interesting and somewhat helpful in navigating how to handle this strange time.
  4. Any Great British Baking fans out there? The show is returning at the end of the month in the UK, but it has not been reported when the US fan will get to see the season. I recently discovered Portrait Artist of the Year, where 9 artists compete by painting portraits of British celebs. I used to figure draw, so it’s mollifying me until GBBO returns (give me all the British television!!).
  5. It’s almost fall ya’ll (in this house, we start 9/1)! The best way to celebrate is with PUMPKIN and BAKING. Here’s my favorite muffin recipe from Sweet and Simple Kitchen. The swirls of Nutella are optional, but why wouldn’t you add it? See above.
  6. Speaking of fall, this foliage map of the country is my new favorite thing! I love being home in Pennsylvania and seeing the beautiful hues of trees on the mountains. I’m SO excited I’ll be home in October during prime foliage time!
  7. I spent some of the weekend watching Get Organized with The Home Edit and I’m obsessed. I spent the rest of the weekend on the Container Store’s website trying to order things to get my closet in order. Also, can we talk about how they got to see and hold ALL of Reese’s movie memorabilia, especially from Legally Blonde? DED.

Happy thoughts for you this week, loves!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 36

Three-day weekends are my absolute favorite. Why is that may you ask? Because you get a weekend that’s three days (duh) AND the following work week is only four days. Double whammy of joy. Not to say I did anything exciting in this three-day weekend. It’s boiling hot here again in LA. My boyfriend and have gotten up early to do things outside, only to return inside by mid-morning to hide out in the AC. I wanted to go to the beach, but with it being a holiday, I knew it would be busy. I think I’ll try to go next weekend…

Pillsbury biscuits, fried at 350F, dipped in sugar/pumpkin pie spice. Easy and YUMMY!
  1. This week Selena Gomez came up with her make-up line, Rare Beauty. She discusses how the main mission was to create a community around mental health. All of the products have positive names, like Bliss and Inspire, and one percent of the proceeds go to a charity that funds mental health services in underserved communities. I’ve watched a few dozen YouTube beauty reviews of the whole line, and it seems like the liquid blush and lipstick are really great products. While I am trying to shift more to clean beauty, I do appreciate a brand that is committed to bringing mental health into the conversation (and it’s affordable).
  2. Remember the hot Dalgona Coffee trend that swept through Instagram and Tik Tok in early quarantine? Well it’s back and it’s pumpkin flavored *raising hands emoji* and would go so well with those pumpkin spice sugar donuts I mentioned above.
  3. Also in beauty news, this week Glossier invested $500,000 in 16 black owned beauty businesses. I love seeing this from a well established brand like Glossier helping out a smaller business get off the ground. More companies should follow this line of thinking. Check out the 16 brands in this link and support if you can!
  4. I don’t know why I’m all about beauty this week, but Tata Harper sat down with Sophia Bush on Work in Progress to discuss her farm-to-face beauty line and all of the horrible things found in make-up and skincare these days. Like I said, I’m trying to shift more into clean beauty so this episode was really interesting, definitely worth a listen!
  5. I think I spent an hour of my life watching all of Shuba’s TikToks this weekend, impersonating other celebrities singing “Savage” and like how does she nail every single one of them? The Celine Dion ones had me cracking up. Overall, she’s incredibly talented and you should give her a follow on TikTok.
  6. Here’s a list of virtual books events happening this week like SIGN ME UP MEOW. Do these happen every week? How can I get this list all the time? Buzzfeed, I need answers.
  7. If you’re like me and run out of things to watch on all the streaming services, you might want to check out ‘Earth to Ned‘ on Disney+. It’s a new show from Jim Henson studios, featuring an alien who hosts a late night show and interviews celebrities. It’s not like the greatest show in the world, BUT it is cute and actually kind of funny. I was forced to watch it via my boyfriend but I did enjoy it especially since I basically have watched everything else…

I hope you’re enjoying your three day weekend (if you have one) and have a lovely (short) week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Folklore Book Tag

As you know, I’m a bit of a Taylor Swift fan and am still shocked she dropped a surprise album last month. When I saw this book challenge, naturally I had to jump on it. No one tagged me (and I’m not tagging anyone), like the rules state, but who cares, it’s folklore and books, which are currently my TOP 2 favorite things!

RULES

  • Link to the original creator: Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink
  • Declare the rules and list of prompts in your post
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their post.
source: taylor swift

The 1 – name a book character you would change the ending for

Désirée from The Queen’s Fortune. I loved this story and I wish the real life Désirée wouldn’t have been left out of the history books, unlike Napoleon and her husband, Bernadotte. She seemed to be a somewhat instrumental part of much of history, but no one remembers her or even knows her name, though her descendants still sit on European thrones to this day.

Cardigan – an old favourite that you always come back to

Harry Potter Series, of course. I think I’ve read like 4-5 times through? Will come back to this series, Always (sobs).

The Last Great American Dynasty – a book with a fascinating and well-told story

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a fascinating story and the first thing I thought of when I heard this song, tbh.

Exile – a book you wish you hadn’t read

Valentine, it did nothing for me, wish I could take it back.

source: taylor swift

My Tears Ricochet – a book that made you cry uncontrollably 

The Last Song. I read it for the first time in like 11th grade and I can still remember *sobbing* in my bedroom when her dad dies.

Mirrorball – a book that feels like it was written just for you

Butter: A Rich History. Butter is my love language.

Seven – a childhood book that makes you feel nostalgic

Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse was my favorite book when I was a kid. If I have to buy a book for a baby shower or a kid’s book drive, it’s always that one.

August – a book that reminds you of summer

Weirdly, Along for the Ride. I used to *love* reading Sarah Dessen books when I was in high school. If I’m remembering correctly, Along for the Ride takes place on the beach, over the summer, which I probably why I think of it? I also used to read Sarah Dessen books all summer as a teen, so maybe it’s partly that too?

This Is Me Trying – a book that deals with loneliness & sadness 

Educated, because that girl went to hell and back throughout her life, and for a long time, wouldn’t admit all the her family had put her through.

Illicit Affairs – a book that gave you a book hangover

Oona Out of Order, I wish it hadn’t ended. I wanted the story of her whole life, not just the snippet!!! It was such a fresh and new story, I could have read it forever.

Invisible String – a book that came into your life at the exact right time

Untamed, I think I could read that book once a month for the next 5 years and find something new that would speak to me each time.

Mad Woman – a book with a female character you adore

Emma from Emma, I love her character and how she means well with setting up her friends, but is flawed as she doesn’t see that her meddling is impacting people’s lives.

source: taylor swift

Epiphany – a book that was haunting

December Park left me shivering under the covers, very dark and haunting.

Betty – a book couple that fills you with yearning

This was hard, I’m a hopeless romantic and there are a lot of book couples I love. Most recently, I would say I loved the couple from The Kiss Quotient, Stella and Michael were so perfect for each other, and they had quite the, uh, steamy romance. I will also eternally love Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Peace – a book character you’d die for because you love them so much

Luna Lovegood, HP Series, no contest. She’s so unique and kind and lovely. The best character.

Hoax – a book that you thought you were going to love but didn’t

Normal People, there was so much hype around this book and I was SO excited to read, but I really didn’t it love it that much?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann