May Reading

May came and left in a hurry. We had a great trip out to Colorado to celebrate my brother graduating from college and Mother’s Day with my mama and paternal grandmother. I also am now employed after a year of transition from moving across the country. This month was also a more voracious reading month compared to April, so let’s dive on in!

Circe by Madeline Miller

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

The first book I finished in May was Circe by Madeline Miller. I saw this book recommended everywhere before its publication date and I think I was the first patron to borrow it from our local library. I really enjoyed the writing style and pacing. It felt both modern and ancient. It was captivating and easy to get lost in, as well as giving you themes to think on and stories to try and connect with from different Greek myths. This would make a great beach or book club read and I definitely recommend it!

Dear Farenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak In the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in her Life by Annie Spence

⭐⭐⭐/5

This was a fun epistalary book to a variety of books and genres from a Librarian’s perspective. What she’s loved and hated, what patrons have loved and hated, guilty pleasures and classics. It gave me some new titles to add to my TBR list and was just a fun conversation style book, where it felt relatable and funny as you reflected on shared ideas or differences of opinion with the author.

Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5

Y’all, this book was amazing! I’ve seen many elementary and middle school teachers I know use this book in class and I totally understand why! This book is about how differences make us special and allow us each a unique vantage point of the world. It is about friendship and kindness, and the power of gifted teachers.

The teacher, Mr. Daniels, is an incredible character who sees in his student the gift that she is and works and fights for her to get the education she deserves alongside the confidence to stand up for herself. He is everything good we want teachers to be and shows the heart behind why people pursue careers in education.

The main character, Ally, has dyslexia. She is gifted at math and art, but struggles with other subjects take because she hasn’t been given the tools to read that work for how her brain is wired. Mr. Daniels changes that, and in doing so, changes her world.

As we struggle as a country with how we treat our teachers, and see the strikes going on from coast to coast, this book is a beautiful reminder of the power of education and amazing teachers who are there to find the students slipping through the system and equip and empower them. This book is wonderful and I think everyone should read it.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco with Lauren Oyler

⭐⭐⭐/5

I have established my love of a good political memoirs, and books that center around the world of politics in general. It’s a world I’ve been fascinated by since studying Virginia state history in fourth grade and the amazing field trips Mrs. Moore and the other teachers took us on. She made the worlds of history and politics come alive, as did living in the D.C. metro area, and it’s captivated me ever since.

This book is written by the former White House deputy chief of staff to President Obama, and a woman who has a long credentialed political career before serving in that role. I love that she shares about the triumphs and trials of being a woman in a male-dominated career field, and about the amazing trips she was able to accompany the president on during her time on his staff.

She is funny and engaging, and shares interesting stories from her younger years to compliment the memories she is sharing from her time in the White House. If you enjoy this field of books like I do, you should add this one to your TBR list.

The Secret Lives of Royals by Shalini Dua

⭐⭐⭐/5

I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my review.

This book was intensely readable and had an interesting premise that pulled me in from page one. I will say that the last twenty percent of the book felt rushed and a bit disjointed, but I’d love to read a sequel to the story.

I found the characters enjoyable, the plot entertaining, and think this would make a perfect summer pool or beach read, as well as a great TV show, on a network like FreeForm or The CW or Netflix.

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

I love all of Lauren Weisberger’s books. I find her snarky and funny, her writing is so descriptive and engaging, and this book followed the pattern that I love from her well.

The characters were flawed and real, while still living an aspirational lifestyle that inspired a sense of wonder and intrigue into their world. I loved that Emily struggled to adapt to the growing world of social media. I felt for the women and their messy relationships. I was laughing out loud often, and my heart hurt in solidarity for situations characters faced.

This book is fierce and funny, and would make the perfect beach or pool read this summer.

I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

I deeply enjoyed this book, just as I’d hoped I would. I loved the descriptive writing and the emotional depth of the characters.

It’s a book about loss, heartache, falling in love, moving on, learning to live a full life, and learning to feel again. This was a beautiful read, that I’ve already been recommending to loved ones, and that I can’t wait to recommend to patrons of our local library.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

This YA dystopian series takes place in a future country after four world wars and ruled by a royal family. There is a caste system in place, and once a generation, if the royal family has a son, there is a lottery for 35 women age 16-20 to be selected representing the different areas of the country, to compete to marry the prince. It’s like The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games, but done with more decorum and poise than either of those. It’s a fun world to lose yourself in for a couple hours and I’m excited to read the rest of the series and follow these characters further.

The Elite by Kiera Cass

⭐⭐⭐/5

I am still really enjoying this series and the characters, but holy gracious did the indecisive nature of America become frustrating in this book. Yes, she is 17 in a dystopic society and overwhelmed with how her life is constantly changing, but girl… make up your mind.

I’m excited to see where the series continue to go, and enjoyed how this book ended. I like seeing some fight and strength to America’s stubbornness that’s on her own behalf.

The One by Kiera Cass

⭐⭐⭐/5

The third book in this series had so much happen within its pages. I enjoyed seeing how the characters grew and the resolution to some of the secrets and questions we still had as readers from the first two books. I enjoyed seeing Celeste fleshed out more, and other minor characters getting more depth. I feel the ending was rushed in relationship to the rest of the story, but found the epilogue to be a sweet way to wrap this story up. Given how the epilogue ended, I think this is where I’ll stop in the series.

This was a fun YA dystopian world to visit and I enjoyed them very much.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

I loved the PBS series Victoria and was excited to read the novel the show was based around. I appreciate the author was responsible for both the novel and the screenplay, and found that season one of the series and the novel were very much the same, which was not a bad thing, just not what I’d expected.

I love history and have always found England’s royal family fascinating, with a soft spot for Queen Victoria. I enjoyed this fictionalized account inspired by her own diaries of what it must have been like to become Queen so young and so indirectly, and to then need to find a husband and navigate the complicated political game.

I really enjoyed this book, and if you enjoy historical fiction, the royal family, and strong female characters, then I would recommend this book.

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

⭐⭐⭐/5

This was a short encouraging read targeted at recent graduates, as it was inspired by a high school graduation speech Lauren made in 2017. It’s about living in and for the daily moments and a very appropriate read for this time of year as we celebrate graduation season and new jobs. I also just love Lauren Graham and wanted to read it solely because she wrote it.

What did you read this month? Any fun summer reads you’re looking forward to?

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What’s Up Wednesday: May 2018

What we’re eating this week:

Monday: We grabbed lunch at the country club, so we just did leftovers for dinner.

Tuesday: More leftovers! Pizza & wings last for days around here.

Wednesday: William had some leftovers, I was still full from grabbing lunch with my outgoing and incoming boss.

Thursday: Salad – we need some greens after the front end of the week.

Friday: Tacos – such a simple go to year-round for us.

Saturday: Curry – William makes some amazing curries!

Sunday: Undecided.

What I’m reminiscing about: I can’t believe how quickly this month has come and gone. My brother will be back soon from backpacking around Europe for a month, and I feel like he just graduated yesterday.

What I’m loving: The warm weather and sunshine! I’m also loving the time I’ve spent with William practicing golf – I can make solid contact with the ball, and though my distance is very short, it’s getting a bit better each day.

What we’ve been up to: We started the month wrapping up the school year for William before flying out to Colorado for my brother’s college graduation and Mother’s Day. When we got back, I started two part-time positions and I’m learning and adjusting quickly about working again. We’ve practiced a lot of golf, enjoyed visiting Presque Isle State Park, and joined a local country club.

What I’m excited about: My new jobs! They’re both in service based non-profits, but my roles and responsibilities are so different. I’m excited for all I’m learning, to be working again, and for the opportunities to better my community.

What I’m watching: We’ve been watching all the Star Wars properties in chronological order, so we’re currently on the Clone Wars animated TV series.

My favorite TV episode this month was the wedding episode of The Big Bang Theory. Seeing Sheldon and Amy get married, the guest stars, the sweet vows, the precious way Sheldon thought Amy looked beautiful in her dress… It was all so sweet!

The best TV special this month was the royal wedding. I thought the flowers were stunning, I loved the fashion of the guests, I loved how simple and elegant Meghan looked, I loved how sweetly Harry looked at his bride, I loved the message from the pulpit and the musical selections. The cellist was breathtaking – William and I love cellos, and that was the only music at our own ceremony, so we both enjoyed listening to him play. It was just a beautiful television moment celebrating two people in love, and what better emotion to surround yourself with and begin your day celebrating?

What I’m reading: I’ve been reading rather voraciously this month and have a post about all of the books I’ve devoured scheduled for June 1. The books I’m currently reading are Bringing Up Bebe, The Oxford Year, and The Royal We.

What I’m listening to: I’ve been on a big Blink-182 kick this month. I will always love them.

What I’m looking forward to this month: I’m most excited for the end of the month when we head to the beach, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to welcoming our summer students for one of my jobs, and really getting in the groove with both of them.

How was your May?

April Reading

April seemed to fly by between Easter and having my sweet Mother-in-law visit for a couple weeks. I didn’t read as much as I would have liked this month as I was reading a bit slower for some reason.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5

This book was my favorite in the series until the movie came out. I found it so magical and fantastical and loved all of the adventure in this book.

Rereading this book was such a joy! I had forgotten how humurous the interaction between the Dursley family and the Weasley family was when they tried to use the floo to pick Harry up for the Quidditch World Cup. I was laughing out loud at Arthur’s excitement over electricity and plugs.

This book is so full of detail, color and rich understanding of the Wizarding World. I know I have been utterly enchanted by each book in this series as I reread it, and I know that will be the case throughout the series as I finish. I hate to be redundant, but Harry Potter is just such a captivating world!

From the Corner of the Oval by Rebecca (Beck) Dorey-Stein

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5

This memoir is a fun look at what it was like having a front seat to history as a White House stenographer during the Obama presidency. Beck joined the team prior to the 2012 campaign season. I laughed out loud often reading this book, especially at her descriptions of Washington and some of her experiences traveling with the president. I also cried in solidarity of her pain, and the last bit of the book beginning with a trip to New York in September 2016 through Inauguration Day had tears rolling down my cheeks.

I really enjoy memoirs in general, but especially political memoirs, and this one did not disappoint! I heard this book has been optioned to be turned into a TV show or movie, and it’s in the vein of fun workplace relationships and experiences. It’s full of messy relationships, learning from mistakes even as you make them again, and what true and real friendship looks like. This may be my favorite book of 2018 so far, and I’ve read some deeply loved books this year.

I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review.

I’m currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller.

April was a slow reading month for me, but I’m hoping to pick it back up in May.

What did you read this month?

What’s Up Wednesday: April 2018

What we’re eating this week:

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: breakfast sandwiches

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: bibimbap

Sunday: chicken cesar salad

What I’m reminiscing about:

With my brother graduating college and another royal wedding, I’m reminiscing about my own final weeks of college and watching William and Catherine’s wedding during my senior week festivities. It’s a fun comparison seven years later.

What I’m loving:

Sunshine. Warm weather. Cute new shoes. Wearing dresses. Fitting in old pairs of jeans.

What we’ve been up to:

This month was full! We celebrated Easter, celebrated the end of college with the seniors in my husband’s department, had my Mother-in-law visit for a couple weeks and enjoyed some warm spring days sprinkled amidst the spring snow!

What I’m excited about:

Heading to Colorado for my brother’s college graduation from the University of Colorado! I can’t believe he’s graduating, flying off to Europe for a month, and entering the workforce.

It’ll be fun to be in Colorado with my family, my grandma & my “older brother”. We’ll also be celebrating Mother’s Day while there, so it’ll just be a fun week!

What I’m watching:

I loved watching the latest season of Father Brown on Netflix! It’s one of my very favorite shows. It’s a murder mystery show set in a small 1950s British town and the endearing characters in the parish and police station. I’m obsessed!

I’ve also enjoyed…

What I’m reading:

I did a good bit of reading this month and have my book round up coming next week!

What I’m listening to:

What I’m looking forward to this month:

How was your April?

Currently

My beloved mother-in-law flew in last night and I am so excited she’s here! We’re also supposed to have temperatures in the 70s tomorrow before snow returns, so I am thrilled to have such a warm day ahead!

Sniffing: The two candles I’m loving right now are both from Bath & Body Works that we picked up around the holidays during their massive candle sale day. One is called Peppered Suede and the other is Bergamot Mint. They both have a such a clean, masculine scent that feels perfect for this spring we’ve been having.

Craving: warm weather! I want to spend an afternoon reading outside in the sunshine and wear sundresses again.

Loving: We found gluten-free flour tortillas by Mission at the closest Wegmans and they have made tacos and burritos so delicious at our house. I love corn tortillas too, but having a flour alternative has been wonderful!

Living in: My LLBean Wicked Good slippers are still constantly on my feet at home. They’re the best.

Wondering: There are a lot of questions I have about our news cycle and the events of the world that have me wondering.

Listening: Music I’ve been enjoying the Google Play station called Kareoke Classics, Blink-182, and the Hamilton soundtrack. Podcasts I’ve been enjoying are Launch, Business Wars, American History Tellers, The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, The Bible Binge, Women’s Work, From the Front Porch, Pantsuit Politics, What Should I Read Next?, and Pod Save America.

Reading: I’ve been really enjoying political memoirs and fiction so far this year with three of my favorite reads of 2018 being Campaign Widows, Dear Madam President, and From the Corner of the Oval. I’m also rereading the Harry Potter series and deeply enjoying it. My current non-HP read is White Houses about Eleanor Roosevelt.

Watching: I’ve been loving the latest season of Father Brown on Netflix. William and I have been watching Versailles and that’s been enjoyable. While my mother-in-law is visiting, were going to finally watch season two of The Crown. I’ve also been rewatching Hart of Dixie when I want something in the background; it’s a goofy, cheesy show, but I enjoy it.

I’ve been loving the latest season of Father Brown on Netflix. William and I have been watching Versailles and that’s been enjoyable. While my mother-in-law is visiting, were going to finally watch season two of The Crown. I’ve also been rewatching Hart of Dixie when I want something in the background; it’s a goofy, cheesy show, but I enjoy it.

What are you up to currently?

Spring Wish List: Home

Spring always makes me feel ready to add bits of new decor to refresh our home as we move out of winter and hibernation.

New throw pillows for our living room are a priority, as our others are older and well loved. I’m loving the texture combination on these three from Belk and will use them as inspiration for what I eventually choose.

I find fresh tea towels can add such a fun pop to the kitchen! These two from Macy’s are so cute.

How do you refresh your home for the new season?

Spring Wish List: Accessories

I have major spring fever right now, and the fresh layer of snow that fell overnight has just increased my desire for sunshine, blooms and warm weather. These are the pieces I’m loving for spring and summer right now.

These two handbags from Kate Spade have inspired all the 😍😍😍 from me, especially the floral! I’m also crazy about this shade of blue right now.

I recently got these sunglasses from Warby Parker that I love!

What accessories have your attention this season?