Books of the Month: January 2021

Happy new year of reading! I promised to read 45 books this year and, I’m already 6 down (hehe)! My love for reading clearly hasn’t ceased and I have fully recovered from my end of 2020 reading burnout. I have 5 books ready for pick up at the library and I cannot wait to get them this week! In the meantime, here are quick reviews of the 6 books I read in January.

It feels like ages since I read Whisper Man; a thriller based in a small town where a serial killer is preying on local children, a dad and his son move into a new home unaware of the local happenings. There are a few twists I didn’t see coming and this book literally kept me on my toes as we made our way through the investigation, and inevitable occurrence of the son becoming prey and hearing the whispers of the whisper man. This book was a solid story and wrapped up nicely.

The House in the Cerulean Sea was big far my most favorite book of the month. It made my heart burst at its seams. Linus is a case worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth that reviews cases of magical youth in orphanages. He is selected for a special mission to evaluate an orphanage with very special magical youths and little does he know, it’s an assignment that will change his life and bring him home (this was truly the part of the story that melted my heart). It really a wonderful story that you need to read ASAP.

The Girl in the Mirror was a meh book in regards to plot, but the end twist left me SHOOK. I’m still trying to find someone to discuss this with because I just can’t get past it. It’s a story of identical twin sisters in a race to get their inheritance. During a boating trip, one twin gets lost at sea and the other assumes her identity. I personally thought the premise for them getting the inheritance was weird and random as hell? I can’t decide if I’m recommending you read this, but it is a quick read and the twist is 100% something you won’t see coming.

Of course, after watching the show, I had to dive into the Bridgerton book series. I started, of course, with the The Duke and I, and can I just say, I think I like the show better? The book on it’s own is good; however, after watching the show, the book left me wanting so much more. The book focuses only on Daphne and Simon’s love story which is pretty wonderful, but I missed the plots of the other characters as well. I guess, all the siblings get a book, so I’ll have to keep reading!

The Last Story of Mina Lee was…okay? The book tells the story of Margot and her mother, Mina Lee, whom Margot finds dead in Mina’s apartment upon returning home around Christmas. Margot then searches for information about her Korean immigrant mother and discovers a woman she never got to know. I say this book is okay, because there was a bit of an investigation/suspense plot that I found odd? It felt forced and unrealistic? I loved the story of Mina, and all the struggles she had to overcome, or never did overcome from being a Korean immigrant in the US. I honestly would have taken a whole book just about Mina’s life, save the murder mystery plot that was less than desirable.

The Viscount Who Loved Me (#2 in Bridgerton series) was cute? Again, I wish more of the ton was featured in the book, but as Anthony is my least favorite Bridgerton, I assumed I would hate the book and I nearly did, but his love story ended up being cute. Even though his character has quite the anger issue, his devotion for the woman he marries is quite sweet. On to Benedict!

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 4

Hard to believe it’s the last day of January already! I know some that felt the month lasted 10 years, but I felt it went rather quickly. Tomorrow starts my birthday month (woohoo!), and even harder to believe, one month closer to it being a year since this pandemic officially started in the US. I finally get to come out of quarantine this week, after traveling back in LA, and to say I’m excited to simply go on a walk outside is an understatement.

Here’s what got me through the week:

  1. I spent this week watching Bling Empire, and I have thoughts. Baby G and Anna are my absolute favs, while Christine is bleh, and Andrew needs to run swiftly off a cliff. Ahem. Some of you might think that’s mean, but you *clearly* haven’t seen the show and met Andrew, aka the OG red Power Ranger. Also, Anna is fantastic and how can I be her?
  2. I am so happy to be back home and in my own kitchen. I baked this flourless chocolate cake today (see her beauty above), trying to bake more in this new year!
  3. In very important political news, now that there are dogs back in the White House, we must ask ourselves, does Joe take them out to the front lawn at 6 AM? Does Jill take them for a walk to the dog park? These are serious questions that need answered and thankfully the Washington post has done just that.
  4. When I wasn’t watching Bling Empire, I was researching curly hair refreshers. I found this list that highlights the pros and cons of popular products to make curls fresh and new and I think I’m going to try Ouidad? Or Davines? Anyone have tips for taking care of curls?
  5. Blake Lively spoke out this week about how hard it was to find clothing brands that would fit her body post-baby. I love that she spoke out about this as a woman in a position of power/celebrity. I personally haven’t had to deal with this issue, but I know a lot of women who have and I can’t imagine having to care about something trivial like that after having gone through giving birth.
  6. Anyone else still obsessed with Bridgerton? Just me? Fine. Since I’ve watched the show (twice) I’ve started reading the books, which follow the love lives in succession down the line of Bridgerton children. Here’s a quick recap if you’re curious. I’m reading through Anthony’s story today.
  7. I loved this week’s episode of the Skinny Confidential, about being more productive in 2021. I thought they gave a lot of good ideas, especially how to factor in more creative time and reduce multi-tasking to be more productive overall. I wish I could say I scheduled every part of my day, but I don’t think I’ll ever be that person, if I’m being honest?

Here’s to a happy start to a new week and a new month!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 3

This week, we finally journeyed back to the West Coast and I am so happy to be back. I am not happy to unpack, however. Why is unpacking the actual worst? And why don’t I have any open closet space from the things I took on my trip? I clearly need to go through my clothes and get rid of some things but that’s even more work, which is why I don’t want to start unpacking. What I really want is a bigger apartment, but LA why you so expensive, huh?

Here’s the things that got me through this (great) week:

  1. The Inauguration happened this week and my serotonin is back at levels I wasn’t sure would ever be possible again. I was obsessed with all the women’s outfits, especially those of Michelle Obama (that outfit literally slayed), Dr. Jill Biden, and Meena Harris. But, my favorite moment was the swearing in of VP, Kamala Harris; what her position means for women everywhere, especially women of color, I cannot even contain how incredible it was to witness that moment of history.
  2. Also on the topic of Inauguration, can we discuss how amazing Amanda Gorman is? That poem was incredible, her coat and accessories were incredible, I can’t wait to see more from her. I loved her Vogue interview as well, she has a sense of confidence that I cannot even fathom having when I was 22, let alone 27.
  3. Since COVID has started, the world has had to adjust in dozens of ways, many of which I can’t even begin to know about. I found this article about COVID compliance officers on movie sets very interesting. That job sounds incredibly difficult and stressful, I certainly don’t think I could do it.
  4. This week, I watched Pretend It’s a City and fell in love with Fran Lebowitz. I do feel like some of the content would have been funnier if I were living in NY and experiencing a lot of the things she discusses, but I really love her spirit, her general hate of just about anything, and hearing about her life and experiences.
  5. I also spent this week cackling over TikTok videos, specifically CaseyisCrazy, which turned Disney Princesses into the Real Housewives and it is so funny, I want (need) MORE. I also loved justme.rod who chronicled the drama of Olivia Rodrigo, et al. Like he just gets my FEELINGS about this situation, you know?
  6. After eating many, many Midwest meals (ahem, no offense), I am ready to eat healthier and cleaner. This recipe for a Kale Caesar salad with sweet potato fries caught my eye, along with these veggie enchiladas!
  7. Finally, perhap the greatest thing to emerge from the Internet this week, The Bernie Sanders Meme. I have died cackling at these since Wednesday, here are some of my favorites.

Have a lovely week ahead folks!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 2

Praise the Lord for three-day weekends and snow. I am very ready to be back in LA, but I’m also enjoying January in the mid-west while I have it. A snow day is a perfect excuse to lay around and do nothing (you know, outside of a pandemic). My Dyson Airwrap finally came in so I spent a lot of time watching how to videos and taking it for a spin. Here’s what else got me through the week:

Lovely hair and cozy robe 👏🏻
  1. You all know I’m utterly fascinated by Bridgerton. This week I read the first book (which of course I’ll recap in my monthly book post) and discovered this video of a Regency tailor explaining all the men’s fashion in Bridgerton, and whether or not it was historically accurate for the time. It’s SO interesting, especially since I’m a historical costume nerd. He gets a little long winded in some places, but I thoroughly enjoy how passionate he is about regency era fashion. Also, the part about the boot literally made me LOL. Patiently waiting for him to post a Bridgerton women’s fashion one…
  2. Also senseless things that aren’t important but I have THOUGHTS: Olivia Rodrigo (and all the drama from HSMTMTS). I bopped to ‘Driver’s License’ basically every minute of this week and was so in my feelings about it I thought I was seriously going through a break up? Even though I’m happily still in a relationship? Power of music, y’all. Also, spent too much time this week reading about the love lives of 3 teens, because what else can we do during a pandemic when you’re in isolation?
  3. Another story that held my interest for way too long this week– Ivanka and Jared don’t let their secret service detail use any of the 6 bathrooms in their DC home…. what? Flabbergasted on this one? Makes me think of the movie, The Help, and yes I would bet all my money that if placed back in the 1960’s, Jared and Ivanka would not let their help use an indoor bathroom, or provide anything other than an outhouse.
  4. I am happily out of COVID-ville, although I still complete a more than moderate workout without feeling exhausted. I guess doing more yoga wouldn’t be the worst thing for me. This is one of my favorite, Deep Stretch from Yoga with Adrienne.
  5. I really want to bake since I’m finally getting my taste back. I’m currently thinking about making Ina Garten’s chocolate cake. It looks and sounds heavenly. Has anyone attempted?
  6. Speaking of taste and smell, losing it was…weird? I found this article fascinating, about someone who has anosmia, which is the loss of smell. Like I was suffering for the 4 days when I completely lost it; now it’s somewhat back, I feel like I can taste whispers of things, if that makes sense? I can’t imagine not having it at all…
  7. Tomorrow is MLK Jr. day and I think we all should take 20 minutes and read MLK Jr.’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail.‘ It’s a powerful reminder of of the suffering of persons of color and how not much has changed in the 58 years since he penned it.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 1

The first week of 2021 was….a disaster, if you ask me. Dozens of things happened in America, including a failed coupe organized by the president, and on top of that, I think I got COVID (pending results), but 2 people in my household have it, so I think it’s safe to assume that my cough, congestion and fever aren’t random happenstance. I also think I’m coming onto the other side of it now, but I’m so ready to feel normal again. And by normal I mean not have a stuffy nose and random bouts of tiredness throughout the day. Part of me is glad I got it though, I don’t have to be a paranoid hypochondriac for the next 3 months.

Aurora + Grogu

Here’s what got me through the week:

  1. Simon Basset from Bridgerton. I binged the show this week whilst lying on the couch and damn, that man puts all of Jane Austen’s leading men to shame. Need to read the books ASAP and see if Quinn’s character is truly so suave and charming.
  2. Also regarding Bridgerton, you know how much I love costume design, I devoured this interview with Bridgerton costume designer,  Ellen Mirojnick. I love how they continue to tell more of the story through costumes, especially in these historical pieces.
  3. I’m sure we’re all still shaken from the events that happened this week, I know I am. I’m also wondering when we’ll no longer have to live through these national historical moments (sometimes multiple at a time) AND be expected to keep working (#captialism). I really liked this article about coping during these hard times, especially at work. I’ve been told multiple times to limit media exposure to a certain amount of time as to not overwhelm, but haven’t been very good about it. I definitely need to try this more often in the new year.
  4. In some good news from this week, the democrats flipped the senate after Warnock and Ossoff won their races in Georgia. Good riddance to senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, literally no one will miss you.
  5. I spent a lot of time this week watching HGTV, and just home reno things in general. I went down a rabbit hole looking on AD and dwell, and fell in love with this Malibu mid century home. Really loved how the laundry and powder room are hidden off the kitchen, plus that shower is to die for.
  6. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good robe. My current robe is from FabFitFun’s brand, Summer and Rose, from the Winter 2020 box. It’s SO cozy (and needs washed after I lived it in this week). I also want to buy all the robes off this list, especially the barefoot dreams robe.
  7. Sick with COVID? Living in the cold? Here’s a quick and easy chicken noodle soup recipe that that kept me alive this week.

I hope the second week of 2021 is better than the first. And reader, don’t forget to wash your hands and wear a damn mask.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: December 2020

December was rough. After reading 55 books for the last 11 months, I was pretty burned out and almost gave up for the month; I did not start reading until 12/7 when I decided I should at least try, and several friends recommended some quick reads. I made it to my goal of 60 which was incredibly exciting…and I’ll never do that again! Here are my December reads:

The Queen’s Gambit was….alright. I watched the show twice and was obsessed, but I felt the book didn’t measure up? I felt the characters had more of a story arc within the show, and in the book the characters, especially Beth, fell a little flat. Had I read the book before watching the show, I would have enjoyed it, I think. I still smiled with a warm feeling when the book ended, so was still worth it. For those who haven’t seen the show, “The Queen’s Gambit” is about a young prodigy’s rise to fame in the chess world; would recommend the show over the book.

Girls on Fire was a very good thriller story? It was easy to piece together what happened, but essentially it’s a story about a mouse-y teen and the angst-y friend she makes at school that leads her down some interesting paths. It begs the question, can anyone make you do something or are all your actions of your own will?

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love was fantastic, even for those unfamiliar with “Queer Eye.” It made me laugh out loud, many times, but it also made me break down and cry. JVN regales the tales of life, basically from birth to present day, and that queen went through it, multiple times. Like how JVN came out on the other side as this self assured and badass queen, like I can’t even fathom after hearing this journey. This needs to be listened to on audiobook so JVN can tell you the story, I don’t see any other way to read this.

The Midnight Library was a delightful story, well sort of. The main character decides to take her own life and ends up in a library full of books that tell the stories of her parallel lives she could have had. I really liked the theme of the book and how Nora learns to love her current life, even though it’s not “perfect” or how other people wanted her to live.

Transcendent Kingdom was a quick read and a good story, about a Ghanaian family and their trials through separation, addiction and grief. It touches a lot on the tug of war between science and faith. I would really like to read Gyasi’s first book, Homecoming, as I quite enjoyed her writing style.

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I did manage to read 60 books by the end of 2020 (huzzah!). I think my favorite book this month might have been The Midnight Library, or Over the Top, honestly would recommend both! As for 2021, I’m setting my goal at 45 books, although after watching Bridgerton, I guess I have at least 9 books on my to be read list…

Sincerely,

Sara Ann