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 37

Another week gone by, stuck inside, this time due to wildfires and unsafe air. We did go for a beach walk today even though we probably should have stayed inside, but lung damage be damned. I haven’t been in the best space mentally from all this staying inside so it was well worth it. I love California but it’s getting a bit tiresome, one thing after another and being forced to stay inside. We did try Persian food this weekend, which was really good and I finished another book (A Man Called Ove, love!). Still trying to see the positives…

Pumpkin Swirl Muffins (FALL)
  1. Like I mentioned (don’t know how you wouldn’t have heard), wildfires are raging in California, here are ways you can help. The most important way you can help is by voting come November for elected officials who care about climate change.
  2. 9/11 was this past week, which marked 19 years since a very tragic day in American History; however, the tragic events of 9/11 will forever overshadow how the event itself fueled Islamophobia in this country, making it hell for thousands of Muslim Americans for many years to come.
  3. Stuck with student loans? Same. Worried about whether you should be paying your loans (that may have had payments paused), or saving for a possible layoff or illness? Same! I found this guide interesting and somewhat helpful in navigating how to handle this strange time.
  4. Any Great British Baking fans out there? The show is returning at the end of the month in the UK, but it has not been reported when the US fan will get to see the season. I recently discovered Portrait Artist of the Year, where 9 artists compete by painting portraits of British celebs. I used to figure draw, so it’s mollifying me until GBBO returns (give me all the British television!!).
  5. It’s almost fall ya’ll (in this house, we start 9/1)! The best way to celebrate is with PUMPKIN and BAKING. Here’s my favorite muffin recipe from Sweet and Simple Kitchen. The swirls of Nutella are optional, but why wouldn’t you add it? See above.
  6. Speaking of fall, this foliage map of the country is my new favorite thing! I love being home in Pennsylvania and seeing the beautiful hues of trees on the mountains. I’m SO excited I’ll be home in October during prime foliage time!
  7. I spent some of the weekend watching Get Organized with The Home Edit and I’m obsessed. I spent the rest of the weekend on the Container Store’s website trying to order things to get my closet in order. Also, can we talk about how they got to see and hold ALL of Reese’s movie memorabilia, especially from Legally Blonde? DED.

Happy thoughts for you this week, loves!

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

Folklore Book Tag

As you know, I’m a bit of a Taylor Swift fan and am still shocked she dropped a surprise album last month. When I saw this book challenge, naturally I had to jump on it. No one tagged me (and I’m not tagging anyone), like the rules state, but who cares, it’s folklore and books, which are currently my TOP 2 favorite things!

RULES

  • Link to the original creator: Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink
  • Declare the rules and list of prompts in your post
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their post.
source: taylor swift

The 1 – name a book character you would change the ending for

Désirée from The Queen’s Fortune. I loved this story and I wish the real life Désirée wouldn’t have been left out of the history books, unlike Napoleon and her husband, Bernadotte. She seemed to be a somewhat instrumental part of much of history, but no one remembers her or even knows her name, though her descendants still sit on European thrones to this day.

Cardigan – an old favourite that you always come back to

Harry Potter Series, of course. I think I’ve read like 4-5 times through? Will come back to this series, Always (sobs).

The Last Great American Dynasty – a book with a fascinating and well-told story

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a fascinating story and the first thing I thought of when I heard this song, tbh.

Exile – a book you wish you hadn’t read

Valentine, it did nothing for me, wish I could take it back.

source: taylor swift

My Tears Ricochet – a book that made you cry uncontrollably 

The Last Song. I read it for the first time in like 11th grade and I can still remember *sobbing* in my bedroom when her dad dies.

Mirrorball – a book that feels like it was written just for you

Butter: A Rich History. Butter is my love language.

Seven – a childhood book that makes you feel nostalgic

Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse was my favorite book when I was a kid. If I have to buy a book for a baby shower or a kid’s book drive, it’s always that one.

August – a book that reminds you of summer

Weirdly, Along for the Ride. I used to *love* reading Sarah Dessen books when I was in high school. If I’m remembering correctly, Along for the Ride takes place on the beach, over the summer, which I probably why I think of it? I also used to read Sarah Dessen books all summer as a teen, so maybe it’s partly that too?

This Is Me Trying – a book that deals with loneliness & sadness 

Educated, because that girl went to hell and back throughout her life, and for a long time, wouldn’t admit all the her family had put her through.

Illicit Affairs – a book that gave you a book hangover

Oona Out of Order, I wish it hadn’t ended. I wanted the story of her whole life, not just the snippet!!! It was such a fresh and new story, I could have read it forever.

Invisible String – a book that came into your life at the exact right time

Untamed, I think I could read that book once a month for the next 5 years and find something new that would speak to me each time.

Mad Woman – a book with a female character you adore

Emma from Emma, I love her character and how she means well with setting up her friends, but is flawed as she doesn’t see that her meddling is impacting people’s lives.

source: taylor swift

Epiphany – a book that was haunting

December Park left me shivering under the covers, very dark and haunting.

Betty – a book couple that fills you with yearning

This was hard, I’m a hopeless romantic and there are a lot of book couples I love. Most recently, I would say I loved the couple from The Kiss Quotient, Stella and Michael were so perfect for each other, and they had quite the, uh, steamy romance. I will also eternally love Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Peace – a book character you’d die for because you love them so much

Luna Lovegood, HP Series, no contest. She’s so unique and kind and lovely. The best character.

Hoax – a book that you thought you were going to love but didn’t

Normal People, there was so much hype around this book and I was SO excited to read, but I really didn’t it love it that much?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: August 2020

It’s already September and I can’t even. Can you? Like where did the year even go? And will I ever stop reading and leave my house? I am officially at 39 books, so hopefully on track to hit 60 by the year’s end, though according to Goodreads, I’m one book behind schedule…

The Jetsetters was okay? I really liked that the book focused on mental health, this had me cheering all the way through, but overall the story was mediocre, nothing overly exciting. It was a nice story that made you thankful for your own crazy family. Basically a older women wins a Mediterranean cruise and she brings her three children along with her, forcing everyone to deal with their problems and family secrets. Would read on the beach.

The Nickel Boys was a really good book, it had a great story, with a twist that shocked me, and it came so perfectly full circle I wanted to cry. It’s about a black boy who ends up in a Florida reform school in the 60’s/70’s, and has to deal with the torture that happens behind closed doors. MLK quotes are sprinkled throughout, making it very poignant for today. Overall, would really recommend!

Other People’s Houses was cute, very classic Abbi Waxman. It wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I know I can always go to her for a good read. It was about a mom and the drama that occurs in her LA neighborhood when one of the other moms is caught cheating on her husband, and the aftermath that follows.

Kindred was interesting and made me think. Set in the 70’s, the story deals with a black woman who finds herself time traveling out of the blue, back to the antebellum south in the 1800’s….where she has no rights, and is considered to be a slave. I felt the plot to be a little weak, but I thought it was very poignant and like I said, it made me think.

Poet X was fantastic story. I loved that it was written in poems. The main character is a 16 year old girl who lives in Harlem and is navigating high school, her body, her faith and her mother. There were so many lines I wished I could highlight (was reading a library book, le sigh), especially the ones regarding her confusion around her religion and her standing up for herself and owning her body.

Anna K was such a fantastic YA story. It’s a retelling of Anna Karenina, which I have never been personally able to sit through reading, though it is on my list for some day. It was a modern millennial meets Gossip Girl retelling of the classic story and I tore through it. If you loved GG as much as I did, would recommend this. xoxo!

The Jetsetters by Amanda Ward

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Anna K: A Love Story  by Jenny Lee

What books did you read in August? What are your plans for September? I’m currently reading, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and I plan on reading either Mexican Gothic or A Woman is No Man (hopefully both)!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

2020 Goals, Are We Still Doing This?

pexels-photo-4057655

I had 5 goals for 2020 and I honestly forgot what they were (oops). I think the pandemic just cancelled everything for 2020? That’s what we’re doing right? All joking aside, I thought it would be a good time to check in again since we’re now closer to the end of the year than the start, and see if I am tracking towards those goals or not, and maybe re-evaluate the goals I did set.

  1. Save money by becoming a more mindful consumer. Well, I can say I’m halfway tracking toward this. I am becoming a more mindful consumer as I’m learning more about sustainability and thrifting, but I haven’t stopped spending money. I have been saving money since I’ve been thrifting and not paying full price for new things, but in regards to saving 25% of my income, yeah, next question.
  2.  Read more. My goal was 30 books for the year and I am currently at 33 books and counting. I want to increase this goal to 60 books for 2020. Let’s go!
  3. Make Friends. Hah, no comment. I do have a new book club I’m joining that will be meeting this weekend. Doubt I’ll make any friends BUT I am trying and putting myself out there. Huzzah for some-ish-kind of effort!
  4. Make 5 difficult recipes. Hm, I haven’t actually ventured down to difficult recipes town since I roasted that chicken (its little cold body was so traumatizing to hold). I can try harder here. I’m thinking spaghetti or tiered cake from scratch. Any good recipes out there?
  5. Be Present. I removed social media apps from my phone for the month of June and I haven’t yet re-installed them. I do still have them on my iPad and I can easily access from my laptop as well, but I do feel like I’ve made strides here, choosing to do things during the weekend days, rather than lay around scrolling through all my feeds.

Is anyone still tracking their 2020 goals, or has everyone else written off this year due to the pandemic and starting new in 2021?

I think I’m planning on making Ina Garten’s Spaghetti next weekend, will keep you posted how that goes…

Sincerely,

Sara Ann