Wednesday, March 31, 2021

2021 Q1 Reading Roundup

 I wasn't sure how I wanted to do these reading roundups this year. I had toyed with the idea of doing them once a month, but as I mentioned before I'm hoping as the year goes on work becomes a little more normal/busy and I don't have as much time to read. So I decided to stick with what worked last year and bring you a quarterly reading roundup! 

Code Girls by Liza Mundy : 3 Stars - Nonfiction isn't my thing, but if it's yours I think this would be a great read! I'd love to read a historical fiction book on this subject now

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton : 3 Stars - This is not the type of book I would normally read, but with that said I really enjoyed it. I thought it was an unique story with an interesting narrator. I would put out the caution that there is violence and death

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis : 5 Stars - Really enjoyed this one! I was surprised by the final plot twist at the end. 

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella : 2 Stars - This one fell flat for me and I think it's because I just couldn't connect with Ava. I just found her annoying instead of cute and quirky like I think was the idea

The Ballards of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins : 3 Stars - It's interesting to read a book with the main character as the villain. We always want to cheer for the main character, but that's not the point of this story.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro : 3 Stars - Overall I enjoyed this book. I wanted to know more about Eva's life during the war years vs. her early life in the United States

The Mad Woman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell : 3 Stars - Confession : I've never read a Bronte novel. I felt that disclaimer was important to know when viewing my rating. I thought this was an interesting enough story, but I wanted more from the ending. It started slow (almost painfully slow) but then seemed to finish too quickly just as it was getting interesting.

The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse : 4 Stars - I honestly did not see this twist at the end coming. A great quick read if you like WW2 fiction or suspense novels

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum : 3 Stars - Beautifully written, but a hard subject to read. Trigger Warning : Domestic Abuse 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne : 4 Stars - Cheesy romantic comedy in all the best ways. I think my only complaint is I would have liked it more on the PG side of PG13 than the R side. Excited for the movie as I think it will transfer well to the screen

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Freidland : 3 Stars - Just okay. This felt like one of those books that a year from now I won't be able to recall the plot

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan : 3 Stars  - Not what I expected, but still a very fun read. Didn't love that it ended on a cliff hanger 

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfield : 5 Stars - One of the best books I've read in a while. This is a great read, no matter your feelings on Hillary Clinton

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver : 3 Stars - Overall a good piece of literature. I'd recommend this if you're looking for a quality read vs. a quick read

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes : 4 Stars - Just a really delighted read 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchet : 3 Stars - This was just okay. I liked how everything seemly came full circle at the end, but the idea of a mother leaving her children is just too tragic

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim : 3 Stars - I had such high hopes because the story was so unique, but the ending felt a little rushed and trying too hard to end in "happily ever after"


What did you read this quarter? What are you excited to read next? 

Monday, March 15, 2021

25 ways to bring joy to the every day

You may remember my goal for 2021 is to appreciate the every day things that make life good. If it doesn't spark joy, it's got to go! About a quarter of the way into the year I'm happy to report this strategy is working and I'm feeling more optimistic and hopeful than I did a year ago. I know many are still struggling, so today I wanted to share 25 ways to bring joy to your every day. Joy is so personal, so some of these may not apply to you, but hopefully they provide you a good jumping off point to fill your life with more joy! 

1. Donate to cause you care about

2. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant 

3. Listen to your favorite song on repeat 

4. Call a family member

5. Make a list of all your accomplishments in the last year 

6. Clean out your junk drawer 

7. Print out and frame a favorite photo 

8. Take a nap 

9. Read your favorite magazine 

10. Go for a walk 

11. Take a PTO day just because 

12. Treat yourself to a fresh manicure 

13. Get dressed up just because 

14. Reconnect with an old friend 

15. Clean out your closet and donate what you no longer wear 

16. Bake a batch of cookies 

17. Spend an extra 30 minutes for your favorite hobby 

18. Take a social media break 

19. Watch your favorite movie 

20. Sonic happy hour 

21. Spend an afternoon volunteering 

22. Preset the coffee maker the night before 

23. Enjoy an at home face mask 

24. Cook your favorite meal 

25. Make a fancy cocktail 


How do you bring joy to your every day?


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

My Ultimate Taylor Swift Album

In honor of us being a little over a month from the release of Taylor's version of Fearless, today I'm sharing my ultimate Taylor Swift album. Essentially I'm picking my favorite song for each number from across all her albums, and because there are too many great songs I've added 5 "bonus tracks" that didn't make the original cut. PS : I'm stealing this idea from TikTok, so I really can't take credit for it. 

I've long been a Taylor Swift fan so narrowing down here vast library to only 21 songs really was difficult. It also made me ridiculously excited for her to rerelease all her older albums! If she never put out a new original album I'd still think she's the greatest artist of our time. 


1. I Forgot that You Existed from Lover 

2. Blank Space from 1989

3. The Last Great American Dynasty from Folklore 

4. I Knew You Were Trouble from Red

5. All Too Well from Red 

6. No Body, No Crime from Evermore 

7. The Story of Us from Speak Now 

8. Bad Blood from 1989

9. Should've Said No from Taylor Swift 

10. Mary's Song from Taylor Swift 

11. London Boy from Lover 

12. Dress from Reputation 

13. This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things from Reputation 

14. Betty from Folklore 

15. New Year's Day from Reputation 

16. New Romantics from 1989 

Bonus Tracks! 

1. Red from Red 

2. State of Grace (Acoustic Version) from Red 

3. Picture to Burn from Taylor Swift 

4. Style from 1989

5. End Game from Reputation 



What songs would be on your ultimate Taylor Swift album? Did I miss your favorite? 


Friday, February 26, 2021

5 tips to read more this year

Recently I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Bad on Paper, and they started an episode talking about how they read so much. That inspired me to share my own tips to read more! I've always loved reading, but before last year I honestly wasn't reading that much. In 2019 I read 13 books, in 2020 I read 54, and I'm currently on track to read more than 60 books this year. I made that drastic change with these simple tips! 

1. Find what you like to read - If you don't like what you're reading you aren't going to finish. It's just like a diet or workout plan, you need to find what works for you. Personally I'm not into nonfiction so I tend to stay away from those. You've probably guessed it from my reading roundups, but I like historical fiction (especially WW2 era) and chick lit romantic comedies. It's also important to remember there's nothing wrong with not finishing a book you're not enjoying; this isn't you high school english class assigned reading.  

2. Set a reading goal - One of the most important things to achieving a goal is being specific. So saying "I want to read more this year" isn't going to be as effective as saying "I want to read 25 books this year." You also want to be realistic in your goal. When I first started my journey to read more last year I had a goal of reading 15 books; that was 2 more than I'd read the year before. I highly recommend using Goodreads for this. You can set a goal and it will tell you how on pace you are to reach it by the end of the year. Because of these other tips I quickly reached that goal and was able to increase it. 

3. Get a library card - This is one of my favorite tips because it makes reading affordable. Let's be honest, most hobbies are expensive, but thanks to public libraries reading is extremely affordable! I've been a huge proponent of public libraries since 2013 when I realized how much money it cost to buy books when you were reading one a week. Did you know you can even borrow e-books from your local library? This has been a huge game changer for me and one of the things that most directly allowed me to read more. 

4. Make a plan - You're never going to accomplish anything if you don't have a plan to get it done; reading more this year is exactly the same. You'd be amazed how many books you can finish with just a few dedicated hours a week. Personally I try to read for about 25 minutes during the day; either during my lunch break or once I "clock out" for the day plus at least 45 minutes before bed. This is a double bonus because I sleep so much better when I read before bed instead of scrolling social media. 

5. Connect with other readers - This tip has two benefits, it keeps you accountable to your goals and helps bring you inspiration of what to read next. I love sharing book recommendations with my mom and my mother-in-law sends me books once she's finished reading them. There are tons of great bookstagramers (instagram accounts devoted to reading) who provide me inspiration. I'm also part of my sorority alumni book club; it's held via facebook and so fun to connect with readers from all other the world! 

What are your tips to read more this year? 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

I know Valentine's Day gets a bad name, but in my opinion that's completely wrong. What's not to love about a holiday devoted to love! Today I put together a few fun gift ideas. Obviously you don't need to give someone a gift to show your love (unless that's your love language) , but sometimes it's fun to give a little something! 


Personalized Mug / UGG Slippers / Headband / Heart Serving Spoon 

Treat Jar / Custom Stitched Placemat OPI Nail Polish 


PS : To my husband, I do not want/need any gifts this year. I'm buying the massage gun (which we know is as much a gift for me as you) and you can buy takeout. But if you really insist, I wouldn't say no to a king size Reese's Heart



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Currently

I haven't written one of these posts since May, so now 8 months later seems an appropriate time for an update! 


So currently I'm......


Watching ... I finally finished this latest season of The Crown and think it may have been my favorite. I'm excited to see what they do with the final two seasons! Now we're slowly watching Bridgerton to try and savor it. 


Eating ... A few months ago I had my annual doctor's visit and was told I need to watch my cholesterol levels, so we've been eating lots of salmon. I really only know two ways to make it, so if you have any good recipes I'd love if you'd share 


Loving ... that I'm still working from home! And rumors around the office are that there are no plans for us to return to an office any time soon 


Listening to ... Taylor Swift's Evermore. Dropping it during prime Christmas music listening time meant I didn't have enough time to fully appreciate it at first, so I'm really enjoying digging into it more now 


Reading ... Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella. I'd been on the wait list so long at the library that when I finally downloaded it I forgot what it was about, but about 100 pages into it and I'm enjoying so far! 


Anticipating ... The long holiday weekend plus a few extra vacation days off work next week! 


What is currently going on in your life? 



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2021Reading Challenge Books

I have a goal of reading 30 books this year, or about 2.5 a month. Hopefully 2021 is a little busier work/travel wise meaning less time to read, so I think this is a happy medium between the 12 books I read in 2019 and the 53 I read in 2020. I thought a fun way to help encourage me to reach that goal is to make a reading challenge. I've never done this before so it could end up being a total disaster, but I thought it sounded like a fun idea! To make my list I decided to pick 21 specific books (inspired by my book club picks and the Popsugar reading challenge prompts) and leave the other 7 as miscellaneous ones that catch my eye during the year. 


1. Code Girls (January book club)

2. The Lions of Fifth Avenue (February book club)

3. A Woman is No Man (March book club)

4. The Dutch House (May book club) 

5. The Book of Longings (June book club) 

6. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (July book club) 

7. The Book Thief (December book club) 

8. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes  (A book by an author who shares your zodiac sign) 

9. Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune ( A magical realism book )

10. Z A Novel of Zella Fitzgerald ( A book whose title starts with “Q,” “X,” or “Z”) 

11. Evvie Drake Starts Over (A book about do-overs or fresh starts) 

12. The Night Portrait (A book about art or an artist) 

13. The Perfume Collector (The book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest amount of time)

14. The Lacuna (A book that has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction) 

15. Hollow Kingdom (A genre hybrid) 

16. Next Year in Havana (A book from your TBR list you meant to read last year but didn’t) 

17. The Floating Feldmans (A book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent, child) )

18. The Stationary Shop (The book on your TBR list with the prettiest cover) 

19. The Book of Lost Names (A book set in multiple countries)

20. The Rose Code (A book that published in 2021)

21. The Royal We (A book with a family tree) 


What's your reading goal this year? Do you make a reading challenge list?