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

Books of the Month: November 2020

One more month left of 2020 and 5 more books to read. I feel like the books of this month were all about discovering your inner voice and following your own path? I liked most of these books this month, I don’t think you could go wrong with reading any of them!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was such a great story. It was a unique tale about Addie selling her soul to live forever, the only consequence being that no one can remember her. I loved it so much; however, I am a big historical fiction fan and I feel like the author could have delved more into the story of Addie doing exciting things, like being a spy in WWII, versus just mentioning it in passing? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the author probably didn’t want to spend time researching history? Regardless, still would recommend the book!

A Woman is No Man might have been my favorite book of this month? It was a story about 3 generations of women within an Palestinian- American family and how their desires are quelled by their culture. I’ve seen some backlash on this book as it portrays a commonality of domestic abuse within Arab culture; this is a culture I am unfamiliar with personally, so I’m not sure, but as someone unfamiliar with Arab culture, it did give me the impression of domestic abuse being common? Just something to keep in mind . The central theme of the story is about women finding their voices, and finding the courage to follow that voice which I love!

The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany was a cute story about a family whose second born daughters have been cursed from finding love. A woman, her cousin and aunt set off for Italy to break the curse, uncovering family secrets along the way. It’s very much a story about learning to listen to your own heart and following your heart for your own path. Would be a cute Hallmark movie!

This Time Next Year was another cute, would be Hallmark movie. Minnie and Quinn were both born on New Year’s Day in the same hospital. They meet as adults and through flashbacks discover their paths have been intertwined their whole lives. Another story about learning to listen to your own heart and following your heart for your own path. Very cute, very fluff, quick read!

Anxious People was another knock out by Fredrik Backman, who also wrote, A Man Called Ove. This was another heartwarming story, this time about idiots. And a bank robbery turned hostage situation. Backman has this really unique ability to write about honesty of the human condition? It makes his books highly relatable and enjoyable, at least in my opinion.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

A Woman Is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Overall, I would recommend Anxious People or A Woman is No Man from this month’s pile!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: October 2020

Holy moley, it’s November! Clocking in at 50 books, I’m only 10 (TEN!) away from 60 and around 60 days to finish (lol 60 days til this year is OVER, whew). I’m pretty sure I can do this, thank you for all supporting me along the way. Feel free to send me book suggestions, I’m open to all genres! Here are the books I read this month:

Unmarriageable was a retelling of Pride & Prejudice set in Pakistan. I enjoyed it, mostly because I love P&P, but also it was interesting to learn about the Pakistani culture AND loved how Alys (Elizabeth Bennett) was a strong feminist and tried to teach her students to see their options beyond getting married and being a housewife. Would recommend if you’re into P&P!

Clap When You Land was another story by the same author as Poet X. I love how she tells the story through poetry; this one was about 2 girls with the same father who don’t know of the other’s existence; one lives in NYC and one lives in the DR. When their father dies, they learn of each other and their stories entwine. Very quick read!

Wild Game was… wild. Set in Cape Cod, a young girl is let in on her mother’s secret, she’s having an affair with her step-father’s best friend. This true story told over decades of time, discusses the effects of lying and secrets and how they impacted the girl for most of her life. It also touches on the mother and daughter’s relationship which was an essential theme for the girl in understanding herself and her mother.

Daisy Jones and the Six was really good, I think I mostly liked it because of the interview style format the book was set up in? Made it a quick read with interesting storylines. Another good one by Taylor Jenkins Reid about a band’s formation, rise in the music scene, and swift downfall.

Praying For Emily was a beautiful story of the first child to receive an experimental T cell treatment that cured her leukemia. It’s a story of both science and faith that helped Emily survive. The Whiteheads are actually distant family of mine here in Pennsylvania, and I followed Emily’s journey on her mom’s blog/Facebook back in 2012 when it was happening. It’s so amazing to read about her journey and a large collective group across the world was praying for her to survive. Get some tissues if you read this one.

Summer of ’69 was a good beach read (not that I read it on the beach, but rather in an airport). A story about an American family during the summer of ’69, with their son off to serve in the Vietnam war. Would recommend if you need a quick, good story.

Unmarriageable: A Novel by Soniah Kamal

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Praying for Emily: The Faith, Science, and Miracles that Saved Our Daughter by Emily Whitehead, Kari Whitehead, and Tom Whitehead

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

I’m currently reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab that I got for my October Book of the Month club pick. It’s really good so far, can’t wait to share more about it!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

P.s. Seriously, drop book recs in the comments…

Sincerely Seven: Week 40

Happy Sunday All! Hope everyone had a lovely week! My week was nice, work wasn’t bad, I finished a book and starting packing for my trip back East that’s coming up this week. I am sadly trying to pack 45 sweaters to wear over a 2 week period and alas, I don’t think I can fit them all in my carry on. LE SIGH, but you better believe I’m going to be watching YouTube videos for sweater packing for the rest of today. Here are 7 other things that got me through this week…

  1. My favorite thing to happen this week… #ProudBoys means LOVE not hate, delighted to see Gay Love taking over this hashtag on Twitter, makes my heart SMILE.
  2. If you know me, you know I am all about Harry Potter and also fall themed cocktails, so loved these Harry Potter cocktail recipes! I want to try the Golden Snitch and The Deathly Hallows.
  3. I spent the weekend watching The Duchess and Emily in Paris, would recommend both, especially The Duchess, which is hilarious. Emily in Paris was very apparently made by the same creator as Sex and the City, but Emily kind of came off as an obnoxious American in France IMO? That being said, I do like Lily Collins (can we talk about her cute new engagement ring?) and the show’s wardrobe is très magnifique!
  4. I love love love chocolate chip cookies, a virtue that was born from being raised on grocery store cookies. I found this ranking of grocery store cookies, I personally was obsessed with the Chip’s Ahoy, Chewy cookies as a child tbh. Not a big fan of Tate’s, but I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like (just kidding, oatmeal raisin cookies can just stop).
  5. Speaking of cookies, this week was biscuit week on GBBO and these Quarantine Florentines sound delicious. Perhaps when I’m not living that bi-coastal life, I’ll try to make these.
  6. Here’s a list of books coming out in October, and there are quite a few that sound really good (THIS is why my TBR pile never stops growing). I got The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab in my BOTM box, which again, would highly recommend for book lovers!
  7. Are you ready for a safe Halloween? As we learned this week, no one is invincible when it comes to COVID and we should all take this seriously, so make sure to wear your masks for spooky season! But seriously, buying the Wednesday Addams one ASAP.

Here’s to a great week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

P.S. ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE? 30 days ppl.

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 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