Books of the Month: March 2021

Whew, I read 8 books last month! Let’s see if I can remember them all….

This Close to Okay was okay? It was a very well written story about Tallie, a therapist, and a man she stops from jumping off the side of a bridge on night. The two eventually build a connection together over a rainy weekend, but I felt like the ending fell a bit flat? I don’t know, the end made me smile but it wasn’t what I was expecting to happen? Curious if others have thoughts on this one…

You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion should be required reading for literally everyone. This book details very real stories of real people who’ve had abortions in America, written by a abortion clinic doctor. It really breaks down each situation and the reasoning for the person having the abortion, as well as how the laws affected that situation, based on the state the person was living in, or had to travel to in order to have the abortion. Before reading it, I always said I was pro-choice, but I could never have an abortion myself; after reading it, I can no longer say for certain that in every situation, I would never have one. Abortion isn’t black and white, and the laws preventing it disportionately affect those of color and low income. It’s a really great book to read if you want to educate yourself more on this topic that shouldn’t even be a partisan issue.

What Kind of Woman was a beautiful book of poems. I loved Part 1 the most; ‘Moon Song’ and ‘To Take Back a Life’ were probably my favorites? Kate fully captured all the different facets of being a woman, from being a mother to a wife to single woman. I feel like I will come back to this book throughout my life and take different things from it each time.

Girl A had a good story, about a girl who was held hostage and abused by her parents, and eventually escaped, freeing herself and her siblings. The story jumps back and forth in time, from the past to the present, when the mom dies and the girl has to reconnect with her siblings as adults. It was a good story, I saw the twist coming, the end.

An Offer From a Gentlemen/Romancing Mister Bridgerton were books 3 and 4 in the Bridgerton series and, in my opinion, these books are getting worse and worse as they go on. These books were the love stories of Benedict and Collin respectively, and each man is kind of an asshole to their respective partners? They have horrible tempers (which is passed off as a ‘quirky/cute’ Bridgerton trait) and treat their loves with no respect while claiming they’re ‘protecting’ the women. Benedict basically kidnaps a woman and forces her to be his mistress, while Collin acts like a jealous child around angel of the whole series, Penelope, and is constantly calling out the fact that even he’s surprised he fell in love with her. I am no longer reading any more of these; overall would not recommend the series…

The Marriage Game was cute but I don’t remember much of it? It would be good to read on the beach. Layla has returned home after another bad breakup and failed career path; she goes on blind dates her dad has found for her online (they’re Indian, he’s trying to modern day arrange a marriage for her), but due to her dad’s heart attack, the dates are chaperoned by her hottie office partner and eventually, they fall in love. He’s kind of a dick to her, tbh? IMO she could have done better, but maybe I was just still salty after reading the Bridgertons

Calling Me Home tore at my heart strings. Isabelle, a 90 year old woman, asks her hair dresser/friend, Dorrie, to drive her to a funeral all the way in Cincinnati from Texas. Along the journey, Dorrie hears the story of Isabelle’s life, specifically about when she fell in love as a teen with a black man during WW2, when Jim Crow laws were raging in America. It was beautiful and sweet love story and I would definitely recommend reading.

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion by Meera Shah

What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer

Girl A by Abigail Dean

An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons #3) by Julia Quinn

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons #4) by Julia Quinn

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

If you read anything from this list, read You’re the Only One I’ve Told, and whatever you do, DO NOT read the Bridgerton novels. What did you read last month?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

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 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

Sincerely Seven: Week 52

I hope everyone had a good week. I know for me, the last seven days flew by! I spent time with my parents, baking (too many) cookies and enjoying some (distanced) time with family. I’m dreading getting back to work tomorrow, but at least it’s a four day week, right? And this horrible year comes to an END? I cannot even fathom 2020 being over, since it feels like it’s been 5 years long, but we’re here you guys, we are so close to the end!

Christmas Cookie Boxes I Made

Here are the things that got me through this week:

  1. Has anyone watched Bridgerton yet on Netflix? I haven’t, but it’s on my list to watch next! I saw this this article about how they redid a bunch of modern pop songs as classical songs for the show, and I’m dying bc that’s my favorite genre. Watching ASAP (also want to read the books ASAP)!
  2. Are you organized and like to write out your to do’s for the day or week in a planner? I know I do! Love this list of the best planners, according to productivity experts. Also, if you’re into wine, the best wine clubs picked by sommeliers.
  3. If you’ve ever been to Columbus, OH, you may have stopped by Fox in the Snow for coffee and pastries. The owners have been releasing some pastry recipes since early Spring, and this week’s release is blueberry hand pies. Uhm, YES PLEASE.
  4. Speaking of cooking, loved these ideas for a healthy meal when you can’t stand to look at another Christmas cookie. *raises hand*
  5. My hands have been SO dry since I’ve been back east, this Cera Ve cream is a literal lifesaver! Not a paid comment, seriously just want to share with you. You can feel it absorbing into your skin and my dry cracked hands were cleared and smooth within a few days of regular application.
  6. In case you had tons of gifts and bags full of used gift wrapping, please try to re-use any gift wrapping or bags (save the planet!). Loved these ideas, I personally always save and reuse gift bags, and any undamaged ribbon/bows.
  7. In case you need something new to watch if you’re not working this week, here are 18 shows and movies made by women in 2020. I personally love Sex Education, Happiest Season and Insecure, and I really want to watch The Flight Attendant.

To all my followers, thanks for reading my posts in 2020, here’s to 2021!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann