Books of the Month: July 2020

Can you believe it’s August? Summer is basically over, Christmas is basically here, and it’s much closer to the end of 2020 than the start. I’m not mad about this year going quickly, it’s a bit insufferable, if I’m being honest.

I started this month reading Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and I will be up front with you, I just couldn’t get into it. I loved the first section where Gay describes her time in becoming a professor; I really like her writing style and found many things interesting in what she had to say. The next section about Gender, was weird? She only recapped and reviewed books, mostly on gender, but I don’t know what I was supposed to get from that? I skipped around the book a bit more, but just couldn’t keep going with it. I did find her reviews of the movies, The Help and Django Unchained extremely insightful as to why they weren’t great movies for explaining the history of racism. Has anyone else read this book? I’m curious for other reviews.

Next, I read The Last Flight, which was a great book. It’s about 2 women, both on the run, who cross paths at an airport and trade tickets for each other’s flights. It’s a strong female novel, touching on domestic violence and women standing up to take down powerful men. Huzzah!

I then read The Vanishing Half, and you all need to run out and find this book. It’s 5 stars, an excellent story across multiple generations, with well developed characters. It tackles issues of race, gender, class and so much more. It was such a well written book, I immediately sought out Bennett’s other book, The Mothers. The Mothers was a great book touching on all types of relationships, lovers, friends, father/child, mother/child, and so on. The ending was sort of left unwritten which I typically am frustrated by but in this book, I liked it.

Next, I read Such a Fun Age. It was a story about a twenty something black woman being accused of kidnapping the white child she was nannying. The story was interesting, especially the character and backstory of the white mother. I feel like she had white savior tones, but it was the point of the story; overall, I thought it was well written and made you think. Finally, I read Educated and I can’t even begin to describe how quickly you need to go out and find this book to read it yourself. It’s such an incredible coming of age story, detailing the insane life and family of Tara Westover. It makes me want to hug my parents and honestly cry for all the things she went through. I’m also amazed at the person she turned into, after suffering all that?

I would most recommend The Vanishing Half and Educated, without a doubt. Actually, make sure you read both of them ASAP!

The Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark

The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett

The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Educated by Tara Westover

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

I didn’t get to read Poet X this month like I mentioned in last month’s post, there is a very long hold for it on my Libby app. Maybe next month! Has anyone read anything good this month? I would love to hear the recommendation!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: June 2020

Wow, SIX months of reading and I am SO close to my goal for the entire YEAR (My goal was 30 books total and I’m already at 28). I did not think I read as much this month, as I was taking 2 online courses that were job related but I guess I did read 5 books which is still on par. I cheated though, some of these were very quick reads! I am proud of all I accomplished this month in my life, since I stopped using social media for the month.

Godshot was a very heavy book that took me longer than expected to finish; set in a small California town going through a drought, this book details the coming of age story of Lacey May. It deals with a religious cult leader, female friendships, family and motherhood.

The Guest List was a classic ‘Who Done It’ murder involving a wedding party and the guests during a wedding set on an eerie island in off the coast Ireland. Interesting read, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird was a sweet book; Josie Silver stole my heart with One Day in December, and this one was no different. Lydia’s fiance, Freddie, dies in a freak accident and while she grieves his death, she finds a parallel life in her sleep where Freddie is still alive. A good option if you need a quick feel good.

Normal People was…okay? I’m not sure why there is so much hype around this book. It was good, but definitely not my favorite. No one in my book club liked it either, so I would say to pass on this if you’ve been thinking about it (I’m going to watch the Hulu show, I’ll keep you posted how it compares).

The Garden of Small Beginnings was a favorite. Years after Lili’s husband suddenly passes, she is starting to feel a sense of normalcy with her two kids, but she has to attend a gardening class for her job and everything turns upside down. There are also gardening tips throughout the book in between chapters, which are so cute. If you haven’t read Abbi Waxman (I also read Bookish Life of Nina Hill in April), I would really recommend!

Godshot: A Novel by Chelsea Bieker
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Overall for this month, I would recommend that you read The Garden of Small Beginnings, without a doubt, but if you can handle a heavier topic book, check out Godshot as well!
Next month, I’m planning to read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and The Last Flight by Julie Clark. Feel free to join me reading either if you can, would love to hear your thoughts!
Sincerely,
Sara Ann
*I have linked all books through a local LA bookstore, Eso Won Books, that is black and veteran owned. I believe they ship nationwide, but I would encourage you to research black owned bookstores in your area to purchase

Sincerely Seven: Week 27

It was so nice having a three day weekend this past week, even though we sat around our apartment for most of it. I really have been thinking about trying to book some kind of trip so I can take a vacation, but with COVID on the rise again, I am too afraid to go anywhere, especially coming from Los Angeles. I also don’t want to take a week off work to sit around my apartment because who knows when it’ll be safe to go anywhere again.

On that somewhat depressing note, here are seven things that got me through this week, also including this very tasty patriotic donut.

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USA Donut from the always delicious, SK Donuts
  1. This 4 Cheese and Mushroom Lasagna might be my favorite recipe of all time. I also love most of the recipes from The Modern Proper, so would recommend checking out their blog!
  2. Who would you consider to be the most influential president? If you said Abe Lincoln, like literally everyone, you might want to watch this video, The Legacy of Abe Lincoln. It’s a bit long but very informative, looking at the way that history is written by the victors, not the losers, so often, half of the story isn’t told.
  3. I got to pick my Book of the Month book this week, I chose The Beauty in the Breaking by Michele Harper. Check out Book of the Month here, I would really recommend it if you’re a big reader! You get to choose from 5 books to select your book of the month for $14.99 and can choose add ons as well. I am a big fan, if you can’t tell.
  4. I LOVED this The Dissenters podcast episode with Sophia Bush. If you’re short on time, start around 27 minutes in, but I would encourage listening to the whole thing!
  5. I’ve been watching Padma Lakshmi’s new show, Taste The Nation, on Hulu and I would really recommend. It’s interesting to learn the origins of foods, and how American culture around food was formed.
  6. Here is an interesting article about politicizing the wearing of face masks which is creating a large problem and dehumanizing the issue at hand.
  7. Did anyone else spend their weekend watching Hamilton on Disney+? It was my first time ever seeing/hearing the songs and it was so great! Here is a great history fact guide that lets you know what did and didn’t really happen in Alexander Hamilton’s life that was interesting.

I hope your week went well and that you were able to safely celebrate the Fourth! Wear your masks and stay well this week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: May 2020

Another month stuck in the Q, another 5 books read. I can hardly believe we’ve been social distancing this long and frankly, still alive and possibly thriving on some levels. I mean, I’ve read 14 books since the start, and that’s pretty awesome if you ask me!

Untamed was incredible, I want so many quotes tattooed directly on my face. I also want her to write a whole book on religion, as well as white women + racism (not by herself, of course, but with activists of color who can help shape the conversation); I think it’s important to discuss and be aware of as many white women dance around the conversation as well as the importance of it, especially in today’s climate. I’m also low key obsessed with Glennon and Abby’s relationship, like where is the Lifetime movie of their romance?! I encourage everyone to read it!

One True Loves was another good page turner/romance book. Basically, the main woman’s husband dies, she grieves and then finds love again + gets engaged, only to find out her husband has been lost at sea and is coming home. I was very torn on who I wanted her to end up with, but it had a wonderful ending, tied neatly with a bow; would recommend for a quick read! Valentine was a book set in the 70’s in West Texas, about a young Mexican girl who is raped by a white young man and of course, everyone in the town blames her for being a slut and ruining his life (EYE ROLL). It was slow and hard to get through at times, I don’t regret reading it, but I don’t think I would tell you to add to your list?

The Bride Test was another great story from Helen Hoang, about an autistic main character, who struggles to make a connection. Would recommend as a quick read/feel good! Finally, Big Summer was a murder mystery that was a little cliche at times and I felt bored in some places; I’m sad because I was really looking forward to this one as a Jennifer Weiner fan. I think this was the author’s first time delving into mysteries? It was not terribly thrilling, but highlighted friendship and body image, especially plus size acceptance in our society. I would maybe recommend if you’re a Jennifer Weiner fan, but even then, not exactly worth it.

If I had to recommend one, it would be Untamed. If you’re not into memoirs/self help, would go for One True Loves or Bride Test

Untamed by Glennon Doyle Melton
One True Loves: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Big Summer: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
Any reading suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments, I need some new ideas! I’m reading Godshot next…
Sincerely,
Sara Ann

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

How’s the Year Going?

For New Year’s I made some goals for myself to work towards in 2020. If you need a refresher, they can be found here. Since I don’t have much going on, I thought it might be a good time to check in and reset if needed.

  1. Save money– still not going well. There’s always something I need to buy, or correctly, want to buy.  It’s a sickness, but I have been trying to think through purchases a bit more before I make them. Baby steps, right? Since quarantine, I’ve been worse at purchasing things that aren’t exactly necessary (like loads of books, outdoor furniture…), but I did put my tax refund and stimulus check towards my debt, so here’s to trying! I think my savings goal was a bit over adventurous, best to work on my debt before I start saving too much.
  2. Read more- I’ve read 17 books so far this year, I would say I’m doing fairly well with this one! Might go above my goal?
  3. Make friends– hah, nope. I was trying to be friendlier at work to people I don’t necessarily work with, and I tried to join a book group on MeetUp but then pandemic happened so haven’t made any progress here. Since in quarantine, I’ve been trying to facetime with those people who are my friends?
  4. Make 5 difficult recipes– I made a roast chicken! It was SUPER gross and I almost vomited like twice, but it was super rewarding in the end. And tasty! I tried a new cinnamon roll recipe but haven’t done much cooking other than instant pot and easy meals. It’s hard to be adventurous in the kitchen when only half the grocery store is stocked.
  5. Be present– I was doing fairly well with this one, but quarantine and tik tok happened and my screen report makes me cringe every Sunday morning (can we just agree Apple should stop doing that until this is over?).

Did you make goals for the year? If so, how are they going? Is quarantine impacting them, either positively or negatively? I’ve love to hear about it in the comments below!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann