Books of the Month: July 2021

How in the world is it August already? I honestly don’t even know where the year has gone. Overall, I’ve been picking up on my reading, but still in a bit of a slump. I think I need to stop buying books/putting holds at the library, I think my ever growing TBR is giving me anxiety about never getting through all the books I want to read? SIGH, if only I were fabulously wealthy and didn’t have to work and could just read 24/7…

Instructions for Dancing was a young adult novel, I think? Evie is reeling from her parent’s break up when she takes an instruction book for dancing out of a local community library. Suddenly, when couples kiss, she can see the start, middle, and end of their relationship. She takes it to mean that all relationships end; however, through learning to dance and getting to know her dancing partner, she learns love is about enjoying the moments and the person you’re with, even if it has a sad end. I definitely cried reading this book and as an Angeleno, I desperately wanted Surf City Waffle to be a thing (I did eat at Met Her at the Bar, the waffle shop that inspired Surf City, 10/10 would recommend, the chicken and waffles were out of this world).

One to Watch is a must-read for any Bachelor nation fans; Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger that ends up as the ‘Main Squeeze’ (i.e. bachelorette) after posting a scathing blog post about the franchise and their lack of body diversity. Bea quickly learns that being on the show is complicated and messy, especially as she starts to develop feelings for some of the men. The story tackled the sickening way media treats women and women’s bodies so perfectly; I was also obsessed with the mixed media way the story was told, almost as if we really were following the season of the Bachelorette. Can I also just say, Kate Stayman-London seems AWESOME? She was a political writer for Hillary’s 2016 campaign and ‘obsessively ranks Taylor Swift songs‘…can we be friends? Hit me up, girl.

The Guncle was a precious modern family story; after a family death, Patrick agrees to watch his niece and nephew for the summer in his Palm Springs home where he learns to open up and be vulnerable in his grief. Overall, I thought it was a cute story, I think I went into having really high hopes? I don’t know, my life wouldn’t have changed had I not read the book? Cute, but next.

The Last Thing He Told Me was a thrilling story that had me on the edge of seat, until….nothing happened? Hannah’s husband Owen goes missing, leaving Hannah and Owen’s daughter, Bailey, alone with deal with one another as Owen’s tech company is revealed to be involved in a scandal. Hannah and Bailey race to uncover what happened, finding out along the way, Owen isn’t who he says he is. Overall it was a very engaging story, I couldn’t stop reading, but it was building and building up to this pivotal moment that never came? The climax was kind of a let down? Curious if anyone else read this and had similar thoughts? I’ve only seen good reviews on it, so feeling like an outlier here!

The Roommate was a very steamy book about two roommates, a socialite and a porn star, who spend the entire book trying to ignore their obvious chemistry. I enjoyed the book, but there was the usual ‘both persons are too in their head and think the other doesn’t want to be with them for XYZ reason’ which is sort of exhausting and often drawn out? But in this book it just built up the sexiness of it? There was also a ‘women shouldn’t be ashamed of being sexual creatures’ tone that was refreshing. Overall, it wasn’t a novel I would write home about but if you need a quick romance, would recommend (also, can we talk about the website, Shameless, that they build out…why isn’t that a thing though? As a prude myself, 10/10, would subscribe ASAP).

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

What have you been reading this summer? Let me know in the comments, my TBR isn’t tall enough already!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: June 2021

It was hard to stay focused and read last month, so much so that I totally forgot to write this post! I’ve been sticking to quick romance reads, I find I can’t focus on anything more serious. I did find all of these books very enjoyable, however. Happily taking any book recommendations to help get me out of my slump!

Song of Achilles was a beautiful love story about Patroclus and Achilles as they become friends and eventually head into battle in the Trojan War. I loved this epic romance, it was so beautiful and sad. I really need Madeline Miller to write more books as I cannot get enough of Greek mythology these days!

Love in Color is a collection of reimagined folktales and love stories across time. The stories were really well written, often reimagined in a more modern day telling. It was interesting to read folk tales from many different cultures, especially folktales from Asian or African culture that I may have not heard before. The love stories were, well, lovely and made me swoon.

The Wife Upstairs was an eerie thriller with a few twists, some I saw coming and others I didn’t. It was a good quick page turner about a dog walker who falls in love with one of recently widowed neighbors in the community she works in. She’s running from her past and he’s hiding something in their house.

Malibu Rising was another TJR knock out that I absolutely loved. Every summer, Nina Riva hosts an end of summer bash in her Malibu home that everyone who’s anyone in LA attends. The story follows the four Riva siblings over 24 hours before, during and after the party, revealing family secrets that will set the party aflame.

Invisible Husband of Frick Island was a cute story about a small island community that goes along with a local woman, Piper, in pretending her dead husband is actually alive. When a reporter comes and notices this odd situation, he keeps returning in order to investigate this phenomenon, spending more and more time with Piper. Is the man really dead? Why is everyone just going along with it? What other secrets does the island hold?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley

If I had to pick one book, I would recommend Song of Achilles or Malibu Rising, both were quick, engaging stories that I couldn’t put down!

What are you reading this 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 51

Another week, working through issues at work, only this week was coupled with having bad wifi, so I wasn’t in the best of moods. It felt like a longer week than usual; I only worked four days but it was a long four days, especially since it snowed here in Pennsylvania. We might actually have a white Christmas? I’m trying not to get my hopes up but also PLEASE. Although, I’m sick of shoveling, so maybe no more snow.

Can you believe Christmas is this week? I feel like I should be doing something… but I’m just listening to ‘Evermore’ and reading the days away.

This is my friend, Barney, enjoying a post walk rest.

Here are the things that got me through the week:

  1. Bustle interviewed Dan Levy and can we all promise to never stop talking about and watching re-runs of Schitt’s Creek? Like 20 years from now, it will be revered by most like Friends is today? But seriously, hearing about all the hard work and time Levy put into the show, like I can’t even fathom, even to the point of having paralyzing anxiety. Also, if you haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek, you MUST…NOW.
  2. This Tik Tok artist has been drawing Christmas characters in different styles, and I’m pretty sure I could watch these all day. I love see the characters especially in the Tim Burton style. He also does other celebrities and characters, in various drawing styles but these Christmas ones are more fun, love seeing this creativity!
  3. I found this article very interesting, about toxic positivity and how we all diminish someone’s pain when we try to help with reverse psychology to help someone. Saying things like, ‘it’ll be okay!’, or ‘there’s always next time’, or ‘this is God’s plan’, can force a person to feel like they are unable or shouldn’t be in their pain. This is definitely something I’ve been guilty of, and will now try to be better about after reading this.
  4. This Ranking of ‘Evermore’ songs by how much the author wants to stare out a window on a rainy day while listening…same.
  5. I spent the entire week researching the Dyson Airwrap because they make your hair look incredible. Does anyone have that could give honest feedback? Trying to research before I splurge!
  6. I really want to make a gingerbread house from scratch, but it seems like so much work and I don’t have my Kitchen Aid mixer here in PA. I’ll just stare at this mid-century modern house, and these Schitt’s Creek houses.
  7. Lastly, Kristen Wiig was on SNL last night and the “Mom Got a Robe” skit was absolutely hilarious, but a good reminder that you have 4 days to get your mom something nice!!

Merry everything and happy always to all my followers, I hope you have a good and safe holiday whether celebrating alone or with family.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 50

Another week gone by, and nothing overly exciting other than I tested negative for COVID. It’s the small things at this point tbh. I also got a chess set (I told you I was obsessed with The Queen’s Gambit), but I’m basically a grandmaster now. Here are the other things that got me through the week.

The only exciting thing this week, watching TV with Aurora
  1. UHM Shifty Swifty released ANOTHER surprise album this week and like, I don’t know, is she trying to kill us? Evermore is kind of dark and sad, like a goth folk album, IMO? But I love ‘Willow’ and ‘No Body, No Crime’ and ‘Ivy.’
  2. In other important news, we are getting a vaccine for COVID which is really exciting and gives us something to look forward to. But let’s not forget, until you get the vaccine personally, continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings. ALSO, because of this, I’m wearing a mask for the rest of my life.
  3. I don’t know about you guys, but I love three things… butter, cheese and potatoes. Half Baked Harvest put them altogether for what I’m only assuming is a delicious and tasty dish, Crispy Cheesy Potato Stacks. I haven’t made them, but they’re on my ‘to be made’ list. I mean the name alone is making me drool.
  4. Anyone remember Olivia Jade? You know, Aunt Becky’s daughter, for whom Aunt Becky bribed college admissions for and is now serving a term in federal prison for? Well, she was on Red Table Talk this week and it was so satisfying to watch a privileged white woman get knocked down a few pegs? I do think it was a fruitful conversation and I truly do hope she’s sorry. I also think it was an important conversation and I would recommend watching!
  5. I loved this article about non-traditional holiday celebrations where women have created their own customs. I love the self-affirming travel and pet sitting abroad. Uhm, I will gladly travel to another country for a week or two to watch someone’s dog, though I think my family would have some choice words to say…
  6. Assuming most people are having low-key Decembers. If that is the case, here are all the new things to stream this month, on ALL the platforms. I’m personally looking forward to “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle“, “Wonder Woman” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. “
  7. Your daily reminder there are still good people out there….a Florida man paid of the utility bills of 114 families who were at risk of being turned off which is just so heartwarming and lovely. I would also encourage folks to donate time or money to those less fortunate during this month. I personally buy presents for children through my church’s Angel tree, or through USPS Operation Santa. I’ve also donated to this GoFundMe for snacks and flower donations to hospitals in State College, PA for doctors and nurses. I also like to donate in someone’s name as their gift, because that’s what this season is about!!

Hoping you have a beautiful week ahead, loves !

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 45

Whew, what a week people, am I right? After the longest week of all of our lives, we finally have a new President and Madame Vice President (holla!). No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, we all need to find a way to move forward. I have a feeling the next several weeks are going to be tough, but I think I wasn’t the only one who slept a little bit better last night. Here are the things that got me through this week:

1. Woman of the week goes to Stacey Abrams, who after losing a governors race in 2018 due to voter suppression, went about registering an estimated 800,000 (!) new voters over the last two years, which is most likely the reason Georgia flipped to blue this week in the Presidential election.

2. Runner up for woman of the week belongs to Charmaine McGuffey, who just became sheriff in Ohio. She ran against her former boss because he fired her after finding out she was a lesbian. This is what we like to see!

3. Making plans for Thanksgiving? Here’s my favorite pumpkin pie recipe from Baker by Nature; trust me, brown butter takes everything to next flavor level and this pie is tasty AF.

4. In case you need a new show to watch, I would highly recommend checking out The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. It’s a really intense show with an interesting story and I’ve already downloaded a chess app on my phone because I’m pretty sure I could be a Chess Master after watching the show (hahah kidding), but seriously it’s a beautiful story and I cried at the end.

5. Maybe this is only interesting to me since I work in the industry but here are 5 buyers discussing the future of retail, post COVID. I will say, I was surprised how quickly the fashion world seemed to adapt to virtual business, makes me hopeful that brands can adapt quickly to other things like sustainability.

6. Honestly, the only thing that got me through this week were all the beautiful memes and Tik Toks that people created. Here are some of my favorites… here, here, and here. Also, can we talk about the gem of the nation, Steve Kornacki? Such a trooper, I hope he’s getting time to sleep now.

7. As the holidays approach, I am dreading being around conservative family members who did not vote for the candidate who won the election. I did love this article about navigating conversations that you might be dreading; there were some good tips about how to have an open conversation that hopefully won’t end in shouting.

Here’s to a better week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann