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

Sincerely Seven: Week 10

Happy (almost) spring all! I know we’ve lost an hour but we get more DAYLIGHT and I am thrilled. I am not thrilled that we stayed up last night watching Outlander, so I went to bed later than normal, but had to get up at the same time because cat. Coffee is most definitely fueling me today, but when isn’t it? I also feel *disgusting* while I’m writing this, I made donuts this AM and already ate about three, so I should probably go for a walk, but I’ll more than likely lay here for the rest of the day..

Cereal Milk Donuts!
  1. I have been binging ‘Under the Influence with Jo Piazza,’ a podcast about mommy influencers, history of influencers, etc, and WHEW I would recommend. It really breaks down the influencer world in general, from the start and how it evolved over time, and I could not stop listening. I’m not a mom, but I do follow some influencers who are moms and it’s very easy for me to succumb to products that influencers suggest across the board.
  2. This weekend, I’m tackling donuts…. Cereal Milk Donuts to be specific (see above). It merges cereal milk from the iconic, Milk Bar, and the custard from Bread Ahead Bakery in London (they rose to fame in early quarantine for their instagram baking tutorials). You can find the recipe here. It is a bit involved and a 2 day process, so if you want a more no fuss donut recipe, try Erin McDowell’s recipe here (which is the base for the cereal milk recipe), SO easy and SO tasty.
  3. A friend shared this article with me this week, about Armie Hammer’s recent drama and his family’s legacy that led up to this point. You guys, it’s wild! It’s a longer read, but 100% worth it. The texts he apparently sent? Oof. Thinking about his wife (who seems lovely from Instagram) and his children…
  4. I’ve been seeing baked oatmeal everywhere, and I’ve never had, but these recipes look really yummy? I’ll have to try some this week, has anyone tried baked oatmeal?
  5. Loved this NYT opinion piece about Taylor Swift and her lyrics taking us back to nature. I loved even more that it was written by a 50 year old dad, proving anyone can be a TS fan. She is ~t i m e l e s s~!
  6. A fun article for anyone else missing Wandavision this week, Jac Schaeffer, director of Wandvision, explains how Kathryn Hahn was chosen for the role of Agatha. Kathryn Hahn has been a favorite of mine for awhile now (did you watch Mrs. Fletcher?), but I loved her in Wandavision! I also loved that the entire writing staff wanted her for the show. As they should!
  7. A nice reminder to get yourself into more ethical fashion habits, here are 5 reminders of things you can do to create a more sustainable closet. Follow my Poshmark closet here, and always remember to check Poshmark, The RealReal, thredup, etc for pieces before you buy new!

Hope you all have a lovely week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: February 2021

Another four books for the month of February! I want everyone to know that two of the books I read this month feature cultures with arranged marriages, and for two weeks, I kept having dreams that my parents had arranged a marriage for me to random guys from my past and I had to return to PA to get hitched. It was SO weird and I kept waking up feeling angry and uncomfortable, but as a result, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the right and wrong of cultures/religions based in patriarchal origins where women aren’t deemed as worthy which angers me as a feminist, but also forces me to respect a religion’s doctrine regardless? I don’t know, I’m on the fence, any opinions welcomed….anyway, back to why we’re here…I decided to take it slow this month and not speed through my books, but rather enjoy the stories I read. I feel like that’s why these reviews ramble on a bit more than normal? I had a lot more thoughts about these books and I credit that to take about a week to read each, versus blowing through them in a few days.

With that being said, here’s what I read this month:

Followers was…good? There were kind of two plots going on, one plot that was really interesting conceptually, and one that felt reminiscent of a Freeform TV show (read: semi boring, sub par acting, but I would definitely watch it on Friday night while drinking wine and eventually fall asleep and not remember much of it the next day). The book toggles back and forth in time between present day and 2050, and goes into depth exploring how our present society values ‘celebrity’ and ‘social media’ and how that eventually results in a nationwide electrical shut down where everyone’s secrets are spilled and the society moves towards a government controlled internet. If you couldn’t tell, this was the part of the narrative that was really interesting to me, because if you told me this would all happen tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised? It felt very thought out and was the reason I kept reading this book, if I’m being honest. The main (Freeform-y) plot in the present day was about two girls, one in a Buzzfeed type job, the other an up and coming instagram influencer; together they plot the influencer’s rise to fame and then deal with the resulting outcome of their choices. The plot in 2050 was about how society has worsened thanks to the new internet and how people are seemingly more obsessed with social media and celebrity. The two timelines are connected. Next.

The Island of Sea Women was phenomenal. I am definitely biased because it’s historical fiction and you all know how I feel about historical fiction, but regardless, I do feel that it’s a well written book with well rounded characters and plot. It was also fascinating because it was about a part of history that I was honestly unaware of, so I learned some things along the way as well. The story was about the haenyeo women on Jeju island off the coast of South Korea; haenyeo women are sea diving women who come from a matriarchal society where the haenyeo are the breadwinners and the men stay home with the children (side note, why isn’t more fiction based in matriarchal societies? Even the patriarchy wins out in our fictional worlds? Bleh, on a feminist rant since it’s International Women’s month now). Overall, the story follows two girls has they grow up and become women during the time of Japanese colonialism in Korea, followed by American occupation and the fight against communism, all the way up to present day. It touches on friendship, loss and duty to family. In my opinion, add this to your TBR pile!

A Place for Us was a beautiful story about a Muslim Indian-American family, told from the perspectives of the mom, oldest daughter, youngest son, and dad. The author chose not to write from the second daughter’s perspective, which for some reason, has stuck with me. Why leave only her voice out of the family of five, and if not including her voice, why even have her character in the story at all? She always sort of felt like an afterthought to me and wasn’t part of the major plot, but I guess her presence was needed to separate the children to strengthen the story of the friendship between the sisters, forcing the son to be a lonely outlier. Anyway! A quick summary would be that it’s a story about the way parents pass on (force?) culture and religion to their children, and how children in turn, try to balance that with coming into their own persons. It touched on duties as children, duties as parents, loss, addiction, and love. It ended and I was weeping. Add to your TBR pile.

The Office of Historical Corrections was a series of novellas and short stories, and to be quite frank, I’m not recalling what the difference between the two is, maybe something about length? Regardless, I loved every single story in this book. Each one was better than the last, ending with a longer story (novella?) that strongly reminded me of The Vanishing Half. Most touch on race, but the author also touches on love and grief. I think my favorite was “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain”? I wish that story could have been a full length book, digging more into the characters and backstory, as well as what the future held for Rena and Dori. Very quick read, would also add to your TBR pile.

Overall, it was a good book month with only one book that I would pass on. If I had to choose one to recommend, I would chose The Island of Sea Women.

Followers by Megan Angelo

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

What have you been reading? I’m finally starting This Close to Okay, and You’re the Only One I’ve Told is ready for pick up at the library. Heading into March with determination to get through my ever growing TBR pile.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 8

Apologies for my absence over the last few weeks, I don’t really have an excuse other than laziness? And my birthday was last weekend so that counts for something right? I haven’t even been up to much, just cleaning and trying to re-organize my apartment (whilst simultaneously looking for a new one and convincing my boyfriend we need to move now). I mainly want to move because we’ve been in a one bedroom, together, working from home for 12 months now, and no we haven’t killed each other, but yes I feel like I live in a tin can and have been slowly losing my mind. I dream of moving back to Ohio and getting a whole house with plenty of space for storage and litter boxes and large beds, but for now, we’re here and I’m trying to make the best of it.

hike on my birthday, clearly did it for the view and this picture 🙂

Here’s what got me through my birthday week:

  1. The Golden Globes are tonight (fingers crossed for another Schitt’s Creek sweep)! Here’s everything you need to know.
  2. Girl boss of the MONTH is Whitney Wolfe Herd, the CEO and founder of Bumble, who recently became the youngest female billionaire after taking Bumble public (while holding her baby son). Talk about a boss showing the world a woman can run a company and be a mom.
  3. I just made these peanut butter cups from Butternut Bakery blog; they were SO easy and taste SO good. Please try ASAP if desserts are your thing, I’m already thinking about making more.
  4. Joe Biden has been trucking along as president, doing things he said he would, and things he said he wouldn’t. He’s also been finalizing all his cabinet picks, here’s a quick list I found helpful to keep track of everyone, just so we all know who we can hold accountable for the next four years.
  5. I loved this interview with Lana Condor, star of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before franchise. I love both Lana and her character, Lara Jean, and I loved that she touched on body image issues and a lack of asian representation in Hollywood. I personally feel like Noah Centineo gets more fame after TATBILB movies which is annoying, since Lana clearly carries the franchise on her back and he’s just….good looking.
  6. This week, I found out about Tis the Damn Readathon and uhm? how did I not know about this (Shawna, I’m looking at you and your wealth of Taylor related info)? I wasn’t planning on reading anything specific in March, but here we go I guess!
  7. Finally, I love James Corden and his carpool karaokes (who doesn’t), but I was dying after this tour bus interview with Prince Harry. I thoroughly enjoyed their conversations, that got a lot more serious than I was expecting? Though I can’t stop thinking about Harry knowing the words to the Fresh Prince song, did he really know all the words? Imagining the Queen watching American TV sends me into overdrive. Also, the obstacle course at the end that features Prince Harry’s athletic abilities (read: fit/hot body) was very enjoyable, but also how did he not get any mud on him?!? I don’t understand…

Here’s to a new week and a new month and hopefully being a wee bit less lazy!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 5

Sunday again. I spent this week trying to organize our apartment, cleaning out clothes I no longer wear, mopping, etc. Just being a boring adult really. I was finally able to go back to Target again but that was really the highlight of my weekend. I ordered things from the Container Store, so until that order comes, I can take a break from trying to organize and catch up on my reading.

King Arthur Cinny Rolls
  1. Today I made Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls and you guys, this recipe is EASY and SO good. If you’ve ever been afraid of making rolls, or using yeast, I feel like this one is pretty fool-proof! And tastes delicious.
  2. Last night, Dan Levy hosted SNL and I was crying laughing from the Zillow Skit. I thought I was the only one who aimlessly creeped around Zillow and looked at homes in various cities that I’ll never live in, but I guess I’m not the only one who gets a thrill from this?
  3. If you follow my Instagram, you know I’ve gotten big into puzzling this year. Loved these puzzle options and definitely want to order the cat on the Vespa…
  4. Obviously today is a big day in America…Team Ruff won the Puppy Bowl. I was personally cheering for Team Ruff after Muffin scored the first touchdown, but good job to all the pups who played and were adopted! I’m honestly trying to figure out how I can be the referee next year…also, can we talk about Chunky Monkey?
  5. Amanda Gorman killed it with her poetry…again. I actually missed her performance, as I was too busy eating snacks, but loved her poem and LOVED her coat.
  6. The Golden Globe noms were released this week and many were snubbed, while Emily in Paris got multiple noms. Now we all know I loved EIP, but did it deserve any awards other than a Teen Choice Award? No. I’m SO mad Insecure, I May Destroy You, and Bridgerton got snubbed.
  7. Finally, in honor of Black History Month, here are 25 books by Black authors to read. I really want to read Heads of the Colored People.

Have a happy week ahead!

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