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Book Reviews: Three Cheers (and tears)

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Me Before You – Jojo Moyes: This book surprised me so much by how much I enjoyed it. It had been on my reading list for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to give it a shot when I saw it at the library. It is such a beautiful tragic love story that makes you fall in love with the characters and then cry your eyes out at the end. The movie is coming out this summer so go read the book before then! And don’t watch the trailer unless you want spoilers!
Grade: A+
(Note: I tried reading the sequel After You and unfortunately didn’t enjoy it, so I didn’t finish it. The book really didn’t need a sequel anyway.)

The Paris Wife – Paula McLain: Thanks to this book, I am now fascinated with Ernest Hemingway and Paris in the 1920s. If you’re a fan of either you will definitely enjoy this book. It’s historical fiction, so while not everything is exactly as it was, you learn a lot about the early days of Hemingway through the narrative of his first wife and true love. It was also incredibly well-written. (And you’ll want to take a trip to Paris immediately!)
Grade: A

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah: I adored this book! Set in France in WWII following two stories, it was reminiscent of All The Light We Cannot See (my #1 book of 2015). The character development was phenomenal and the writer painted the scenes so well. At one point I was crying so hard because I felt like I was in an internment camp and told husband through bleary eyes how I just couldn’t get over the fact that this happened in real life. Yes, there are some sad parts, but I promise you will not regret reading it.
Grade: A+

Why Now Is The Time To Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk: So I saw this author speak at a conference recently and was blown away. Seriously. He was so passionate and purposeful about everything he said, and really made me stop and think. A colleague lent me his book (after I came home raving about him) and I could practically feel him emanating from the pages. If you’re entrepreneurial or think you want to be, this is a great, quick book to read that will get you fired up about living your passion and turning it into a business.
Grade: A

What a great round of books I had this time – all A’s! I’ve already started on my next one, The Widow by Fiona Barton. Do you have any recommendations to add to my list?

xo xo


2015: My Top 5 Movies, TV Shows + Books

M O V I E S

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5. The Martian: This was a great movie, and an even better book (see below). I put it as #5 only because there were a few things they changed in the movie that I didn’t like, but I still really enjoyed it.

4. Sisters: Husband couldn’t possibly believe I put this movie before The Martian (or Star Wars), but I laughed my booty off at this movie, harder than I have in a really long time. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can do no wrong.

3. Still Alice: This one is hard to watch and really sad, but the acting is phenomenal. Julianne Moore absolutely deserved the Academy Award for Best Actress.

2. Inside Out: All the emotions! Seriously. I watched this on the plane to Europe and had to stop myself from full on sobbing. It was so sweet. This is the best Pixar in a long time.

1. Ex Machina: I was shocked by how much I liked this movie. I wouldn’t have even watched it unless someone convinced me, because the trailer makes it out to be a horror movie, but it’s not at all. It’s a little creepy, but so so good. Also, currently in love with Oscar Isaac.

Still on the list to see: Spotlight, The Big Short, Creed, Carol, The Room, The Danish Girl

T V  S H O W S 

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5. iZombie: I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, this is such an underrated show! It’s a zombie comedy like you’ve never seen before, and you will fall in love with the characters.

4. The Jinx: This HBO docu-series was incredible. Husband was literally pacing the room during the last episode because it was so intense. If you don’t know anything about it, don’t read anything, just go watch it.

3. The Walking Dead: This show always makes my list of top shows, but I haven’t loved this season. It started out amazing and steadily went downhill, with kind of a dud of a mid-season finale. But still, of course, one of my favorite shows.

2. Pretty Little Liars: Guilty pleasure. Guilty, guilty, pleasure. But it continues to be one of the shows I look forward to watching the most every week. #HalebForever

1. Jane the Virgin: I don’t know how it happened, but I fell fast for this show and Gina Rodriguez. It’s hilarious, it’s dramatic, it teaches life lessons – it’s seriously so much more than you would imagine.

Honorable mentions: Hart of Dixie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Making a Murderer

Editor’s Note: The below is my true #1, but not counting it in the 5 since it didn’t come out this year.
Friday Night Lights: I know I’m like 10 years behind on this show, but I binged it this summer and absolutely fell in love with it. Like, so much so, that I immediately bought a t-shirt and mug after finishing it (see below). Definitely on my list of top shows of all time.

 

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B O O K S 

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5. Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins:  I loved the way this story was told, through 3 different perspectives and in morning/evening narratives. It kept your mind reeling throughout, following different leads of what could have possibly happened to girl who disappears. Totally worth the hype, and I can’t wait for the movie.

4. The Martian by Andy Weir: I started and finished this on the plane ride home from Europe. I loved this book! It was fascinating. It was written so well and in such a unique way that you were hooked from the beginning.

3. Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling: Her second book wasn’t quite as entertaining as her first, but still a great, easy read that made me laugh out loud and gave interesting behind the scenes insight into the life of a comedy writer (and my celebrity spirit animal).

2. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica: Oh.My.Gosh. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s definitely one of my top books of the year. The character development was phenomenal, and it is so so suspenseful. Speaking of the ending, I did not see it coming at all.

1. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer:  This is a truly beautiful story with incredible writing. Though it’s a lengthy book, it kept me interested by switching perspectives chapter to chapter. I think I loved this so much because I’m not typically a historical fiction reader and this captivated me.

xo xo

[Catalog – 2014, 2013, 2012]


Book Reviews: Mindy, Mars + The Undersea

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Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling: In my humble opinion, Mindy Kaling can do no wrong, and if you follow my blog this comes as no surprise to you. Her second book wasn’t quite as entertaining as her first (which I gave an A+), but still a great, easy read that made me laugh out loud and gave interesting behind the scenes insight into the life of a comedy writer (and my celebrity spirit animal).
Grade: A

The Martian – Andy Weir: I started and finished this on the plane ride home from Europe. I was sick of movies and magazines, so I grabbed husband’s kindle and this was the only thing that looked remotely interesting. I loved this book! It was fascinating. It was written so well and in such a unique way that you were hooked from the beginning. The only reason I didn’t give it an A+ is because it got a little too scientific a few times, but you could easily skim those (as I did) and still understand what was going on.
Grade: A

From This Day Forward – Craig and Amy Groeschel: This was our latest couples Bible study read, and I think we were all disappointed. This book was SO cheesy. Let me say it again – This.Book.Was.SO.Cheesy. It literally made me cringe at times. There were some good points of discussion, but they could have easily been shared in an article (or a pamphlet, as someone in our group suggested). There were no marriage revelations, but we had some great group discussions on basic marriage principles, and so for that, I gave it a passing grade.
Grade: C+

(City on Fire – Garth Risk Hallberg: I started reading this and stopped about 100 pages in. I wouldn’t say it was bad per se, but it wasn’t great either, and it was 900+ pages, so I wasn’t going to waste that much time on something I wasn’t really interested in. The debut author is definitely a talented writer, but took too long to get the story going and could be a touch superfluous.)

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel: This book has been on my list for a while and I’m glad I finally picked it up. As a post-apocalyptic story, it’s very different from my typical read, but I enjoyed it. I was a little bored at the beginning, but about mid-way through it takes on a whole new life weaving in stories of pre- and post- apocalypse and you see how they will all come together at the end. And it was, a terrific ending.
Grade: B+

Next Up: Me Before You – Jojo Meyes 

You can read all my book reviews here.
xo xo


Book Reviews: Chills, Thrills + Skills

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Before I Go To Sleep: This book creeeeped me out, but I really, really enjoyed reading it. It’s about a woman who has amnesia, and wakes up every morning and can’t remember anything – who’s sleeping next to her, where she is, how old she is, etc. She starts keeping a journal of everything she learns about herself that day, so the next day she can read it and get caught up on her life. We are reading the journal as she is, so it’s like we’re learning alongside her … eek! I found out it was turned into a movie with Nicole Kidman, so watch the trailer to see if you’re interested: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtSzAEvBIK0 

Of course, the book is always better than the movie.
Grade: A

My Sunshine Away: This book’s been on my list for a while, and sadly it was a disappointment. The characters didn’t compel me enough to really want to keep reading. I did though, mostly to solve the mystery in the book, but I could have easily put it down and not cared too much about it.
Grade: C+

[Dropped book: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Another one I’d been waiting to read for a while, and I’m SO surprised I didn’t enjoy it. I read about 70 pages and stopped.]

The Smartest Kids in the World and how they got that way: After a few duds, I was so glad I picked up this book at the library because it’s FASCINATING. You follow three American kids going to school in other countries and you learn their cultures and why they are performing better than Americans. If you have any interest at all in the school system, this is a must read. Also, my kids will go to school in Finland.
Grade: A

The Good Girl: Oh.My.Gosh. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s definitely one of my top books of the year. The character development was phenomenal, and it is so so suspenseful. I wanted to keep reading constantly, but also didn’t want it to end! Speaking of the ending, I did not see it coming at all. If this is the author’s debut novel, I can’t wait to read her next one.
Grade: A++

You can read all my book reviews here. What’s your current read?
xo xo

[Follow along with what I’m reading on Instagram @milledavis and checking out my hashtag #mdavisreads]


Book Reviews: Beach House Secrets, Contraband Secrets + Family Secrets

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We Were Liars: It seems like decades ago that I read this book, but I still remember very clearly how the ending made me feel. You think this will be an easy, light-hearted read (which it is), but the ending will throw you for a loop like your favorite thriller. You know something’s off while reading, but you just can’t seem to piece it together. I had all these theories, and none of them were fully correct. This is a great book you can read in a few days, and will make you think about the ending for days after.
Grade: A-

All The Light We Cannot See: I read so many reviews on this book and heard so many amazing things, and they were all true. This is a truly beautiful story. Set in WWII, we follow the paths of a young Nazi boy and a young, blind French girl and the fascinating intricacies of how their lives are connected. Though it’s a lengthy book, it kept me interested by switching from his story to hers chapter by chapter. Even if you aren’t typically a historical fiction reader (like me), this is a wonderful read.
Grade: A+

The Best Yes – Making Wise Decisions In The Midst of Endless Demands: Truth be told, I’m actually still reading this book. It’s a great book to keep by your bedside and read a bit here and there between novels. I think everyone can relate to the premise of this book – how to say “the best yes” to what God really wants for your life instead of all the yes-es we say day in and day out that just make us tired and unfulfilled. I’ve been highlighting and taking pictures of my favorite passages in this book, and reminding my people pleasing self that I don’t have to say yes to everything. This would make a great study with a group, or enlightening for people like me.
Grade: A

And The Mountains Echoed: This was actually a spontaneous read, and I’m so glad I read it. Someone recommended it to me on Instagram, then another someone who saw that comment found it in their personal library and loaned it to me. This was another book about paths converging, like All the Light We Cannot See. We follow the lives of several families from Afghanistan to Paris to San Francisco spanning generations. The author is a tremendous storyteller, and I often felt like I was reading short stories within the story. While I enjoyed that, it also proved a little difficult to follow at times. I definitely recommend this book though, especially if you enjoyed the author’s previous works The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Grade: A-

You can read all my book reviews here. What’s your current read?
xo xo


Book Reviews: Love, Lust + Lies

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Eleanor & Park: This book was recommended to me on Facebook, and I’m so glad I looked for it on a whim at the library. It’s a simple story with simple characters, but the author makes you fall in love with the simplicity. I think it’s because we can all relate – a young love story that isn’t bound to last, but you put everything into it like it will. The air between the lovebirds was palpable, sitting next to each other on the school bus sharing music and comics and sweaty hands, and made me wish I was there myself.
Grade: A

The Reader: I remember when this movie came out and just from seeing a few salacious lines about the plot, thought who in the world would want to see this?! But let me tell you, I read the book and then watched the movie in two days. The author turns something you don’t think would be interesting into the most fascinating love story I’ve heard in a long time. The writing was just superb and swept me away. One of my top 5 books of 2014.
Grade: A+

Yes Please: I have to say I was a little disappointed in this book. I LOVE Amy Poehler, and this definitely doesn’t change that fact, but I was expecting a laugh-out-loud-till-you-cry book and unfortunately that’s not what I found. I was probably comparing it too much to other similar books that I that I adore – Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. It certainly had it’s funny moments, but probably what I loved the most was hearing the behind the scenes of SNL and Parks and Rec.
Grade: A-

Girl on the Train: This book was just as good as everyone said it was. I loved the way the story was told, through 3 different perspectives and in morning/evening narratives. It kept your mind reeling throughout, following different leads of what could have possibly happened to girl who disappears. I can’t say it was quite as good as Gone Girl (of which it has been compared), but it was a terrific way to spend my snowy Saturday morning.
Grade: A

xo xo

[Read all of my book reviews here]


Book Reviews: Secrets, Sadness + Self-Help

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The Husband’s Secret: I’ve been on the wait list at the library for this book for months. I was SO excited when I finally got it and then I read it … and it was a letdown. I was a big fan of her book Big Little Lies, which I’ve reviewed previously. This one was similar in that it had some twists and was easy to read; however, the plot just didn’t immediately interest me like the other book. I guess I like gossipy PTA Mom dramas better than deep-seeded family secrets dramas.
Grade: B+

Belzhar: And speaking of letdowns … again, this is another book I’ve been waiting for and have read from this author previously. Her book The Interestings made my 2013 list of favorite books last year. (Seriously, go read it.) This one was fairly interesting, but too YA for me and I hated the ending. The plot is good enough, but then once you get into it, it looses its luster. I also didn’t feel a strong enough attachment to the characters to really care what happened.
Grade: B-

Allegiant: And speaking of endings I disliked … I’ve been putting off reading this book for a while now. I read the first two books in the Divergent series and LOVED them, but had heard this one was not a good ending to the series. I honestly wish I just hadn’t read it. The author tried too hard to complicate things when it could have ended simpler and happier. It brought me out of the fantasy world from the first two books and into reality for this one – in a series you should either be all in or all out. I literally had tears streaming down my face at the end of the book and not in a good way.
Grade: C

Boundaries: We’re reading this book with our community group and it has been terrific. Even if “self-help” and “Christian” books usually turn you off, this has some great principles and discussion topics. I really think this book is best read with a group, but would be great as a personal read as well. There’s so much great information about boundaries at work, boundaries in marriage, boundaries with self and more. Our group could easily focus on one chapter a month vs. our two chapters a week. It gave me a new perspective and has forced action out of the book, exactly what the author would want.
Grade: A


Book Reviews: Happiness, Lies + Bergdorf Goodman

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The Magicians – If Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia had a gritty teenage son, this would be it. The similarities gave the touch of familiarity, but sometimes seemed to rely too heavily on these classics. That being said, I love both HP and Narnia so thus, I should enjoy this book and I did. That being said – The Magicians is the first in a trilogy and after finishing it I had no intention in reading the next. Take from that what you will.
Grade: B

The Happiness Project – This book made me happy. As the author goes on a quest to find personal happiness, she shares her ideas and inspirations per month to attain her goal. I wasn’t enthralled in the book like I was with the similar Carry On, Warrior possibly due to writing style or just not feeling as connected to the content. But I was intrigued by it. There were several things I will take from the book to do personally to increase my happiness, namely continue my blog and sing in the mornings.
Grade: B+

Big Little Lies – The parents in Gossip Girl would read this. The parents of elementary students wishing they were in Gossip Girl would read this. Basically if you like gossip and drama you would read this. It felt like a YA novel a few times with it’s ease of reading; however, there were several plot twists that made me audibly shocked, not typical of a YA novel. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and flew through it in a few days. Next on my list is another from the same author, The Husband’s Secret.
Grade: A

I’ll Drink to That – This autobiography is phenomenal. I’ve only read a few autobiographies in my life (one being Benjamin Franklin’s that I surprisingly really enjoyed), but this one outshines them all. Her life is so fascinating and unique from mine that I often felt like I was reading fiction. I was so thirsty for more Betty Halbreich after finishing the book I immediately googled her, to find interviews, photos and then happily stumbled upon the fact that Lena Dunham is creating an HBO series about her. My grade for this book is an A+, I’ll drink to that.
Grade: A+

xo xo


Book Reviews: Vacation Reads + A New Series

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Mercury in Retrograde: This is one of those random library books you just pick up and check out even though you don’t know much about it. I took it on vacation as an easy read and read it in 2 days. But that’s pretty much all it is – an easy, lighthearted read. It’s about three girls lives turning upside down (due to mercury in retrograde, obviously) and as their paths cross they learn from each other and turn it all around.
GRADE: B+

Wild: This was next on the vacation book list and it was quite the opposite from my first read. If you enjoy nature, you need to read it. If you enjoy adventure and soul searching, you need to read it. If you enjoy good books, you need to read it!! A woman hiking a 1,100 miles in a journey of self-discovery – sounds a little boring, huh? Not even close. I felt so connected to the main character by the end that I could feel her tears in my eyes. This is officially on my list of top 10 favorite books of all time.
GRADE: A+

The Vacationers: Oh, The Vacationers. I’ve had you on my reading list for months now. I put you on hold at the library and was SO excited to see it was finally my turn to read you. And sadly, you really disappointed me. You had a myriad of characters that could have had so much depth, but didn’t. Your plot barely seemed to inch along. I considered dropping you several times, but decided to finish. Did you pay off those magazine reviews that sang your praises?
GRADE: B-/C+

Divergent: Okay, I know I’m like a year behind on this trend, but I’m so glad I finally caught on. I’m not saying this is a tremendously well-written, deep novel (like Wild), but for a young adult series it’s so engaging. I was literally obsessing over the next time I could read because all I wanted to do was finish the book. I also read Insurgent, the second book in the series, and really enjoyed it. However, I fear the third will be similar to Hunger Games, a disappointing end to a fantastic series.
GRADE: A

Next books on the list: The Happiness Project, Allegiant, Dear Daughter

xo xo


Carry On, Warrior

It’s not often you find a book you relate to so well that you vow to re-read it every year before you’ve even finished it.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Nicky, I was introduced to Glennon Doyle Melton, her blog momastery.com and her book Carry On, Warrior. I honestly don’t even have the words to express how much I love this book. Its heartwarming, its hilarious, its smart, its inspirational. As Nicky described it before I started reading – “Its part auto-biography, part beautiful essays, all about life and Jesus and being a human.” Pretty perfect description.

What’s interesting about this book is that I could see how one could read it at different times in their life and learn different lessons each time. There are a lot of chapters about being a parent, of which I’m not currently, but when I am, I’m sure I’ll go back and read it and relate so much more.

As I’m about halfway through the book, I’ve already bookmarked several pages of her words that have been so inspirational and fitting for the time of life I’m currently in, struggling through death and grief.

On helping her sister deal with a tragic situation: “I learned that in these disasters, all we can do is tell them that their grief is real, and if it lasts forever, then we will grieve with them forever. As far as I was able to tell during those two years, there was nothing else worth saying. It was not going to be all right, ever. Everything doesn’t happen for a decent reason. I couldn’t do anything at all except feed her, hold her when she cried, pray angry prayers, keep showing up and know that time, and my home and presence would offer healing.”

To her son, on the death of their fish: “When he asked me, ‘Why Mom? Why does God send us here, where things hurt so much? Why does he make us love things He knows we’re going to lose?’ I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever; we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, realer. Loving people and animals makes us stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die, they leave us better. So we keep loving even though we might lose, because loving teaches us and changes us. And that’s what we’re here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we’ll be better prepared for Heaven.”

Y’all. I just had to share those passages. When I read the first one, I literally just started crying because she’s SO right. I don’t want people to know that just so they can understand what I’m going through, but I want to know that and remember it for when I’m helping others through their grief. Then the second passage – whether it’s a 6-year-old struggling with the death of his fish, or a 25-year-old struggling with the death of her dad, we all ask the same questions and her answer gave me HOPE.

Now is the part where I tell all of you to stop what you’re doing and go buy this book right now. I want to buy a billion copies and give them to everyone I know. And even if you don’t, I’m sure I’ll be writing at least one more blog post about what I’ve read, but in the mean time,

Carry On, Warrior
xo xo


Book Reviews: Malcolm Gladwell, Mothers and Daughters + Mysterious Bookstores

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Like I said in my last book review, I’m on a reading binge, and I’m loving it! It slowed down for a while during a busy season at work and moving, but I’m back at it and already have my next 3 books lined up. This batch was a great batch of books, all very different, but all very good.

The Tipping Point – I feel like I totally missed the boat on this one because everyone else read it years ago, but I am now officially the biggest Malcolm Gladwell fan. His writing is simply superb, weaving in hard facts with anecdotes so perfectly that you believe everything he says without batting an eye. And the topic is F-A-S-C-I-N-A-T-I-N-G. It’s one of those books that seems like a boring book you’d read for a class, but then you secretly fall in love with it.
Grade: A+

Glitter and Glue – I’d read reviews of this one in magazines, then mom borrowed it from the library so I picked it up and could hardly put it down. It’s just a great, true-blue story of the relationships of mothers and daughters and how they change over time. It would be a great vacation read – easy, light-hearted and makes you shed a tear or two.
Grade: A

Uncommon Marriage – We read this autobiographical book with our community group about facing obstacles in marriage and how to deal with them. Of course being the non-sports fan I am I had no clue who the Dungys were and thus didn’t know how the story would turn out. As I read, I was so encouraged by their life story, their public display of faith and their continued spousal support. Also, I learned a little bit more about football.
Grade: A-

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – This book recommendation came from an avid reader who had nothing but good things to say about it, so I knew it would be good. I picked it up in the airport on my way home from San Francisco and read half of it on the flight. (Come to find out it’s set in SF, which made it feel even more perfect) This book starts out so unassuming and normal about a boy in a bookstore, then slowly turns into a story with just enough magical whimsy to make you feel like a kid again believing in secret codes, immortality and clandestine underground meetings in NYC.
Grade: A-

xo xo


Book Reviews: Short Stories, Love Stories + Horror Stories

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I have officially woken from my no-reading slumber. As I’ve said previously I get into habits where I either binge-watch or binge-read. I’m currently in the binge-reading. There have been a few factors contributing to this, one being that husband and I have made a “no more TV after 9pm” rule. (This rule was put in place due to some serious Homeland-bingeing.) Another factor was mom gave me a perfect book to start off my reading list …

Wonder – This book is it’s title, a wonder. I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more. I cried a lot more. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but just go read it. The ending is really perfect and will re-invigorate your faith in humanity.
Grade: A

The Fault in Our Stars – I love, love, loved this book. I’ve been wanting to read it for awhile after seeing the trailer for the movie. I thought it would be an easy, predictable young adult read, but it had so much more depth than any other YA book I’ve read. The characters, the plot, the writing – it was nearly perfect. I also bawled like a baby at the end.
Grade: A+

One More Thing – I’ve never read a collection of short stories before, but I’m now officially a fan. Since I never watched The Office, I didn’t know B.J. Novak’s style or sense of humor. What I did know was he created a trailer for his book and it was one of the best things ever – seriously, go watch it right now. (It also doesn’t hurt he’s bffs/secret boyfriend to Mindy Kaling) The stories were short, hilarious, witty, unique – I loved them all. He’s a talent I will continue to watch.
Grade: A

Dark Places – This is my current binge-read. A huge fan of Gone Girl, I have very high expectations of this book and they have not been met as of yet. Granted I’m only a few chapters in, but it hasn’t captivated me nearly as much as GG had at this point. I also do not like the main character at all, which is a big problem. I’ll keep you posted on my final analysis.
Final Grade: B-
What have you been reading lately? xo xo

Book Reviews: From Gossip Girl to South Africa

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 5.47.11 PMReconstructing Amelia – Remember when I wrote about wanting to read this book last time? Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl – and it did not disappoint. Though it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat quite as much as Gone Girl and it wasn’t nearly as chic & conniving as Gossip Girl, it was somewhere happily in the middle and kept me thoroughly entertained.
Grade: A-

Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse – One TwentySomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood – Fact about me: If I’m not completely engaged in a book, I won’t finish it. I just feel like it’s such a waste of my time if I’m not really enjoying what I’m reading.  All that to say, I did not finish this book. Maybe I had too high of hopes, thinking it was going to be the next Mindy Kaling or Tina Fey book (both of which I adored). It does have some similarities and I definitely could relate to some of it, but it was too long-winded with not quite enough wit to keep me reading. If you’re interested, stick with her blog: The Frenemy, but save your time with the book. {Though I did blog about her Advice for TwentySomethings, Post-College, which you should read}
Grade: N/A*

Soul Detox – I’m reading this book with a group of women at work and so far it has been amazing. The book examines the toxins that assault us daily including: toxic influences, toxic emotions, and toxic behaviors. It really forces you to dig deep and examine the toxins you personally deal with, how to deal with them and how to remain clean, pure and focused on God. Our group has had great conversation so far around the book and I’m looking forward to continuing it.
Grade: N/A*

The Power of One – This is next on my list and I hope to start it soon. Husband actually got this book as a gift for his birthday, but I’m stealing it while he’s reading Game of Thrones. In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one. I love inspirational stories and I have a heart for South Africa, so I’m pretty excited. Review to come next time.

*didn’t finish book

* * *

I’m headed off to Dallas for a few days for work {and a little play}. See you in a few! xo

You might also enjoy: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”, Mindy, Facebook + The Dinner


“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

I seem to go through hobby phases. Sometimes it’s binge-watching a TV show. Sometimes it’s blogging. Sometimes it’s baking. But sometimes it’s reading, and that’s where I’m currently landing. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it seems its one of those practices that if you don’t keep up consistently you can’t seem to find time for it. Well, when we went on our media blackout for two weeks a lot of free time opened up for reading, and I caught the bug again. I previously shared about the books I was reading in my post Mindy, Facebook + The Dinner.

Now, I’ll share my most current reads. (Though I’m dangerously tipping into the binge-watching phase as I’ve discovered my new Summer show: Greek – all 4 seasons of which are on Netflix.)

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The Interestings – When I tried to describe this book to Husband he said it sounded like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Which it kind of is, a grown-up version at least, but with more depth and wit. It follows a group of friends from summer camp into middle-age, sharing relatable accounts of their relationships, careers and everything in between. I identified with the musings of how relationships change over the years and enjoyed the unique perspective from the various characters.
Grade: A

The Best of Us  Need an easy book to read on vacation? This is it. Similar to Emily Giffin or Jennifer Weiner books, this follows a group of old friends on a seemingly picture-perfect vacation, but when a hurricane hits it brings out all the secrets. Quick and effortless, by the end this read will have you wishing for a drink in your hand and sand between your toes.
Grade: B+

The Great Gatsby – Somehow I got throughout high school without having to read this classic. While I originally regretted not having read it sooner, I think I appreciate it now more than I would have then. The artistic writing, the extravagant parties, the brilliant characters – I’m only halfway through, but so far I’m in love and I can’t wait to see the movie. (P.S. The soundtrack to the movie is incredible.)
Grade: B+

Reconstructing Amelia – After I finish The Great Gatsby, this is next on my list. As I was doing my Saturday morning read of Entertainment Weekly this book caught my eye on their 10 Perfect Summer Reads list. Why? Opening review line – “Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl.” (One of my favorite shows and one of my favorite books.) Could this get any more perfect for me??

What are your summer reads? xo xo

You might also enjoy: The Book List


Book Reviews: Mindy, Facebook + The Dinner

Today and the next two days in NWA are cold, rainy and grey. Bleh. (Where are the WARM + SUNNY April showers??) All I want to do is curl up in sweats with a big cup of coffee, Bon Iver floating through the apartment and a book that could enrapture me for days. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen. However, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in such a situation, below are a few recommendations.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – I’ve already talked once on my blog about how much I love Mindy Kaling. Seriously, she’s the best. If I was still unsure about her as I started reading her book, I was hooked by page 5. In her intro she’s answering questions about the book and her last question/answer is “What else should you know about me? (1) There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it. (2) I would like to be friends with Beyonce Knowles.” AMEN and AMEN! (Also, the dress code for her funeral is to be: chic devastated. Can we just be best friends now?)
Grade: A+

Lean In – Quite opposite from Mindy’s book, I decided to read this book after a co-worker told me about.If you’ve been following the media, you know there is SO much controversy surrounding this book, and I honestly don’t understand why. It was practical, honest and smart. In every single chapter I could relate to something she was saying. No matter what you believe about Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) or criticisms you’ve heard about this book, if it inspires more women to LEAN IN and take control of their careers as it did for me, that’s all that really matters.
Grade: A

The Dinner – I’m only about halfway through this book, but so far it’s brilliant. There is one setting – the dinner table at a restaurant. There is one family – the Lohmanns. There are a lot of topics of conversation, but only one secret underlying it all and underneath every bite of humor, you’re trying to figure out what it is.
Grade: B+

Furious Love – This is next on my list when I finish The Dinner. I’ve always been drawn to Old Hollywood – Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and the stars of this novel – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Their love is known as one of the most passionate of all time. They were married and divorced twice and though he was remarried at the time of his death, Liz said she believed they would have been married for a third and final time. Passion, glamour, betrayal, wealth – what more could one need in a novel??

xo xo