Books of the Month: April 2020

I cannot be tamed! I have been flying through books, you guys, bringing my year total to 18? 19? Who knows.  I would like to thank COVID for allowing me this time at home with nothing else to do that would prevent me from reading. But in all seriousness, I have become obsessed with reading. In the last month, I’ve bought 6 books, which is the most I’ve bought in years! I also read 6 books, which is kind of insane! See my April reads recap below.

Mrs. Everything was about the lives of two sisters, from childhood to seniorhood; it touched on the expectations placed on women, LBGTQ+ rights and family relationships. It was fascinating to read about the lives of these two women and how their attitudes and ideals morphed over decades of time, neither ending up where I thought they would. The Queen’s Fortune was a book club choice and I’m mad I waited so long to read it. It’s a historical fiction novel about Napoleon’s first fianceé, Desiree Clary, and her life, woven into Napoleon’s triumphs and surviving France during the revolution.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was such a wonderful way to escape during these crazy times. Set in Larchmont, a neighborhood in LA, you’ll read about a millenial named Nina and her love of books. It deals with handling anxiety and putting yourself out there to try all kinds of new relationships. Before We Were Strangers was a classic love story, boy meets girl, they fall in love in college but fall apart afterward, re-connecting 15 years later through a Craigslist ‘Missed Connection’ ad. I finished in about 2 days, it was a very easy read, plus it was only $2.99 on Kindle. I read apart of Readheads Book Club (would recommend this podcast!)

Kiss Quotient was a (very) steamy read, but the main couple had great chemistry. I loved that the main character had autism and a lot of the story showcased her struggle of wanting to connect with someone romantically but not being able to connect in the usual socially acceptable ways. Dear Edward was a coming of age story about a young boy in a plane crash with his family, where he is the sole survivor. The chapters go back and forth between the events that happen on the plane and Edward’s life post crash, and his learning to live with the tragedy. Talk about needing tissues!

I was very into feel-good love stories this month; I think because during these crazy times, we all need a feel-good, pick-me-up, and these books provided that for the most part. If I could only read one, I would read (and this is very hard because these books were so good) The Queen’s Fortune, mostly because I learned things while reading it so I felt like I was multi-tasking. If you need a feel good page turner to lighten your mood, please read Before We Were Strangers or The Kiss Quotient; neither will disappoint.

Mrs. Everything: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by Renée Carlino
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki

I can’t decide whether to start Untamed by Glennon Doyle Melton or Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore next. Here’s to May reading and hopefully being allowed to leave my apartment a bit more!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

BOOKS OF THE MONTH: March 2020

Can I just say, since the start of the year, I’ve already read 14 books. I’m really proud of myself for sticking to my goals for the year, and I really feel like I’m expanding my reading horizons. Let’s also be honest in that I wouldn’t have read nearly as many books if it were not for a global pandemic forcing me to remain indoors all the time.

Bad Blood was absolutely insane. I knew the name, Elizabeth Holmes, but I had no idea what the story of her company truly was. I would highly recommend this book, there will be moments when my jaw was on the floor and I couldn’t fathom that these things actually HAPPENED. Like I don’t think the best fictional writers of our generation could write the things that went down at Theranos. I did find some parts slow (I started in January), just because I don’t understand medicine or blood testing, but for the most part, it was engaging and they simplified most things where they could.

The Ship of Brides was a cute romcom with side notes of female friendship as well as the expectation of women’s behavior in the 50’s (which was very infuriating). I loved how it started in the present and went back to World War II. Would read on the beach. Dear Girls was cute and funny, but definitely tame by Ali Wong’s standards. I loved that she wrote it for her daughters and I especially loved the afterward her husband wrote (also a letter to their daughters). Overall, would listen to this on audiobook if given the chance again, but would really recommend, especially if you’re an Ali Wong fan or enjoy celeb autobiographies!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was fantastic, it was an engaging story where an Old Hollywood star retells her life story to a young journalist. The two are connected but you don’t learn how until the end. I couldn’t put it down! Oona Out of Order was another one I would highly recommend, about a young girl who time travels to a different age of her life with every passing birthday, at random. I think I liked it because it’s a very different and creative type of story. In Five Years was for book club; here, the main character travels in time 5 years into the future for just an hour. This seems like it’ll be a love story, but it ends up being about friendship. It was cute!

Overall, time seemed to be a theme of the books I read this month. It’s also interesting because I’m so much more aware of time now, since I’ve been locked indoors all day, every day. If you can only read one book from this list, I would say Seven Husbands or Oona Out of Order; really though, you can’t go wrong with any of these books.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
What books did you read last month? Anything worth checking out? Feel free to send recommendations my way, I’d love to read them!
Sincerely,
Sara Ann

Books of the Month: February 2020

Another month, another three books. I decided at the start of the month to make a conscience effort to read books by Black authors for this month, all in the name of continuing to broaden my reading horizons as well as celebrating and learning more from Black voices.

New People was crazy; it has a touch of the Netflix show, You, to give some context. I found the plot to be mesmerizing, finishing the book in a matter of a day. I think it was so interesting because the main character was so blatantly flawed and possibly dealing with some mental health issues? I absolutely hate how it ended, please, if you’ve read this, can we discuss?

Queenie is about a mid-twenties woman living in London, trying to recover from heartbreak. It talks a lot about dealing mental health, focusing on yourself, and the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a really good read, especially if you’re a fan of Bridget Jones, though I felt this one touched on a bit more serious theme than Bridget’s escapades.

Finally, I read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and I have to say, it was very eye opening. It made me aware of how ignorant white people, including myself, can be, as well as made me better understand the privilege in whiteness that can allow one to see the violent history of the world with rose colored glasses, or rather, disregard it entirely.  It mainly discussed black history in Britain, and I’m going to be totally honest that I had no idea Britain even had a past as heavy with slaves and racism as the US. It really made me think of Chelsea Handler’s documentary, Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea, and how important it is for all people to engage (whites and blacks alike) on black history, racism, and white privilege, even if it’s uncomfortable or awkward.

I also want to include the book, An American Marriage, in this post; although, I read it a few months ago. It’s a heart wrenching story about a young black couple and how they deal with the husband’s wrongful incarceration. It very much makes you face the real horrors of how a person’s life can be ruined, something I have never much thought about as a white person.

New People by Danzy Senna

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Bonus: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Overall, I’m glad I focused on Black authors this month; I learned a lot and felt that these books really challenged me to think about white privilege and to see the world through another lens. I hope more people take time to do the same, and have conversations with friends, family, etc to discuss and celebrate black history, not only in the US, but the world.

What were your reads of the month? Anything I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: January 2020

So far I have read 5 books in the month of January, and I tried fairly hard to differentiate the selection as best I could. I was most surprised by the latest, The Friend. It was recommended to me by my hairdresser and while it’s a bit unconventional of a book, I really found it enjoyable, tackling some tough issues like love and loss. I also really loved reading, Save Me the Plums. It was an insightful book into the editorial food world and I want to try all the recipes that Ruth sprinkled throughout the book.

Royal Holiday was cute, in a Hallmark-esque movie way and Conviction was interesting, but I did find it tough to get through. I mostly liked it because the central book storyline revolved around a crime podcast, but other than that, I felt the story was a little dull. It did touch on the criticism that women receive when they come out as a victim of sexual assault, which is SO important and I’m glad they made it a point to make that a central part of the storyline as well.

Finally, I was really moved by When Breath Becomes Air, but wow, was it a heavy read. Hearing Paul’s story was heartbreaking but I would recommend reading this book at some point, when you’re in the right headspace. I did like that they tried to keep it positive, discussing his life and his impact on others, but woof, it was rough to listen to his final days, as told by his wife, Lucy.

Full list is below for anyone who needs a new read; if you can only try one, I think I would suggest Save Me the Plums; unless you’re not into food whatsoever, try reading The Friend!

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Conviction by Denise Mina

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

What are you reading now, or have you read anything great in the last few months? Feel free to suggest in the comments below. I love getting suggestions from all genres!

Best,

Sara

Paris Letters: Book Review

Have you ever wished you could quit your job and move to Paris to live the life you’ve always wanted? Well, in Paris Letters, Janice Macleod does just that and takes the reader along for the ride. Her story is inspiring and to be honest, it made me yearn for the world beyond my cubicle…and I’m only just into my work life. The best part of this book is that it isn’t fiction, this story is Macleod’s real life, proving that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

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Paris Letters, Janice Macleod, Buy on Amazon

I picked up this book when I was traveling to Florida; I needed something to leaf through while I was stuck in airport terminals and this was the perfect read. I quickly dove into Janice’s world and I could feel her frustrations with her job. I was inspired by her bold move to Paris, leaving behind the entire life she worked to build. Then, her whirlwind perfect Paris love story made me want to jump on a plane and write my own story. I almost thought this book was fiction, then I found Janice’s blog and realized she was, in fact, real and so was her story.

If you want an inspirational read about grabbing a hold of your life, pick up Eat Pray Love, Wild, or Paris Letters. It will take you to places you dream about and make you want to follow those dreams. Plus, you can check out Macleod’s Etsy Shop and order some Paris Letters for yourself!

Book Review! Adulting: How to Become A Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps

Reader, are you a twenty something who has always wished for a handbook to the world of adulthood? Or maybe you are past the twenties, still wishing you had a guidebook to flip through when going about your life?

Well, I’ve found that guidebook to being an adult, thank God that someone finally wrote it.

Guide to Life.

Adulting: How to Become A Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps is a guide to navigating the world of being an adult. Kelly Williams Brown, a true hero of our generation, articulately describes dozens of topics, including finances, relationships, and jobs, step by step in one book that you can keep on your shelf for years to check for reference. She has many wonderful ideas about these topics, some things that I knew, some that I had never even thought of.  It’s a light read and has some humor dabbled throughout making it not only helpful, but also an overall good read. She also touches on a few behavioral things, like respect and how to be just a generally nice to be around human. I liked the chapter when she made the reader self-actualize and realize they were not a ‘special snowflake.’

Great use of a flowchart, Kel.

I read it and reflected back on a few times in college when it would have been useful to have. For instance, when I was touring apartments to live in, I wish I had known to check the water pressure, or bring along my cell phone charger to check outlets. Right?!

Now, Reader, you may have known to do those things, but as a young twenty-something, the thought never even crossed my mind. I also gave the book as a present to my best friend, who is moving to another town to begin her career. She has informed me that it was the best gift ever and she felt the need to put Post-It’s on several pages to mark for later reference.

accurate. KWB for Pres.

Adulting is a book for yourself, for your friends, for your relatives, or anyone who hasn’t the slightest clue how to be an adult. I plan on giving it as a gift for the next few friend’s birthdays because I want them to have the guidance that nobody even knew was out there.

Reader, would you read Adulting? Or have you already read it and received the wonderful guidance through adulthood? Let me know in the comments!

Love, B.