Monday, June 7, 2021

Last Minute Monday - Pt. 4

Hi! Happy...another week, I guess. 

Excuse my lack of enthusiasm - part of my brain has disintegrated thanks to virtual school. Straight up melted away. And there's somehow 3 weeks left of this insanity?! Let's be real - no one cares about fractions and grammar in June.

I love writing Last Minute Monday posts (possibly because I get to escape 1st and 4th grades for a minute?), but to be honest I don't have a ton to share. I've been careful not to overload life right now while we are waiting for the stress of school to end.

So life has been mostly watering plants and reading books and loading and unloading the dishwasher. Thrilling.

Although, I'm reading The Soulmate Equation* by Christina Lauren right now...and that's thrilling as hell. I expected to love it (I love all of their books), but it's so hot. Recommend recommend recommend. 

There's some other good news, too. My 12 year old is fully vaccinated and had zero issues with his second shot. My Grandpa (who has been a bit unwell lately) is coming around and is expected to be back home super soon. And my little two get to go enjoy their field day at school later this week. While I use those two hours of no kids to galavant around town. Which, let's be real, will be the library only, but I'll take it.

Oh! And I'm back at yoga this week. It was supposed to be last week, but the rain had other plans. It's an outdoor class, so a soggy parking lot is not ideal. I miss my yoga class so much - and my instructor even moreso. She's one of my favorite humans on the planet.

Okay so, I meant it when I said I didn't have a ton to share. I have to go set up my first grader for another assessment meeting (omg this part of the school year is the worst) and then I am dying to get back to River & Jess and read more Soulmate Equation. Definitely going to devour the rest today.

Have a gorgey week. 

And if you're looking for summery books to get lost in once you finish The Soulmate Equation, visit my last post. There's a lot to love.

*This is the lone affiliate link in this post, just wanted you to know! If you click through & buy this book I will make an itty bitty commission, but that's not why I shared it - it's legitimately worth it. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

15 Books to Read This Summer 2021

Happy June! Summer is (basically) here and I'm so ready for all of the Summery reads ahead!

Jealous of all of you in the south and west who are already done with the school year - we still have four weeks to go (blah). I'm so excited about my Summer reading plans, though! Here's some that I've either already read and got seriously Summery vibes from, or that I'm really looking forward to diving into very, very soon!

Summer 2021 Books

If I missed anything I need to know about, do let me know!!
All the seasons inspire their own version of mood reading for me,
so if you've got something quintessentially summer to share, I need to know about it! 

New Summer books 2021

Sunkissed by Kasie West
I've read this one already and it's such a great summer read! I love YA, so if that's not your cup of tea you may not like it as much as I did, but there's so much to love. Avery is dragged on a two-month wifi-less family vacation to a resort in the middle of the woods. There she decides to broaden her horizons and try new things with the help of a hunky resort employee. This book has Dirty Dancing vibes (although more innocently) with all the satisfaction of self-discovery and secret romance set in a resort atmosphere. All the summertime goodness in this one.

Float Plan by Trish Doller
Anna embarks on an adventurous sailing trip through the caribbean that she was supposed to take with her late fiance. She takes the trip in his honor, but soon discovers that she can't do it on her own. She decides to hire an experienced sailor who helps her navigate the ocean as well as her sadness. Their relationship evolves as they travel together and experience life and culture at each of their stops. I've read this one too and really loved being transported to their tropical destinations as they sailed along. There are a lot of boating/sailing terms that I did not connect with so I had a hard time picturing their time on the boat, but that wasn't too much of a hinderance. It's a great book for taking a trip when you can't actually take one!

You Have a Match by Emma Lord
Looking for summer camp vibes? This is the one. In this book, you get to follow Abby to summer camp as she accepts a job as a camp counselor. Part of her motivation to spend her summer this way is to spend the time connecting with the sister she never knew she had. Her DNA test results matched with a local famous Instagrammer and the pair are determined to find out what happened in their mutual past. At the same time, her best friend (and unrequited crush) is one of the cooks at the same camp, and they have some things of their own to work through together. There's drama, there's romance, there's a little bit of mystery, but most importantly, there's the ultra-summery vibes of experiencing it all at camp.

Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras
This is book two in a series (the first of which, Island Affair, I haven't yet read and have listed below under backlist books). This story has a prodigal son flare - Alejandro returns to his hometown in tropical Key West. While there's enough drama for what this means for him and his family, he's also got the added complication of running into his old flame - the one he left behind when he decided to travel without her. Their flame hasn't gone out, though, and they soon find that their attraction to each other still exists. I can't wait to watch this unfold in the summery tropics!

Summery Reads

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
TJR is one of my favorite authors - anything new she comes out with automatically makes it onto my list but I'm extra-excited for the summertime mixed with socialite vibes in this one. Set in 1980's California, the famous Riva family is throwing their annual end of summer party and bringing a whole lot of drama along as their guests. The party gradually flies off the rails, and by the end of it, their mansion is a pile of ashes. This book makes us guests with front row seats for the drama, and I can't wait to attend! (I just ordered this one from BOTM this morning, yay!)

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
If you're looking for something with travel, a bit of angsty romance, and a bunch of unexpected laughter - this is the one for you. It was adventure and traveling mishaps and unrequited feelings - all of which I expected. But it was also hilarious! I really didn't expect to laugh as many times as I did, and the witty banter between long-term friends and travel buddies Poppy and Alex was so, so fun to be a part of. You find yourself rooting for them as the timeline shifts between past and present, but also just grateful to be present for their realistic and humorous conversations. SUCH a good summertime book!

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary
I think this is third release by Beth O'Leary and I've loved her previous books so much! This time we get to go along on a road trip with Addie and his sister as they travel to a friend's wedding. The kicker is that shortly after they set out on their adventure, they end up in a car accident with Addie's ex. The pair haven't spoken in years, but now they're stuck together for the rest of the drive as Addie had no choice but to offer him a ride. This sounds like the very best kind of angst while on a fun traveling adventure and I am here for it!

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
More travel? Yep, sign me up, books like this are the only tropical exposure I'm getting this year. This one is a story about overcoming fears and breaking down fear barriers. Sisters Marin and Sadie couldn't be more different. One is terrified to even leave her home state, and the other is a globe trotting photographer. The pair make a plan to travel to a tropical spa (though Marin is reluctant), where all of her fears and dreams come true. The trouble they run into sounds so entertaining and rewarding and I can't wait to travel along with them this summer!

Summer 2021 TBR

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
This book sounds like one of those "so ridiculous it's good" Hallmark movies. Birdy pretends to be her best friend as she works at a Scottish hotel over the Summer. Only she not only has to pretend do know what she's doing with her job, she has to carry on with her false identity as she strikes up a romance with the hotel's chef. I have a feeling this is a perfectly lighthearted Summer book with the classic rom com happy ending, and I'm here for it.

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
So I grabbed this one as a BOTM pick thinking it was going to scream Summer, and I'm sure it is. But then I saw an ad for it that said it was Dirty Dancing meets Schitt's Creek and oh my gosh, I'm SO excited! For Decades, the Golden Hotel was the vacation destination of the Catskills. Over the years, though, it has lost its luster, and the two families who run the place have to make some hard decisions about its fate. Everyone wants a say in the hotel's fate, and it stirs up all kinds of drama and secrets. Angst set in a summery vacation spot sounds pretty perfect.

The Siren by Katherine St. John
I love stories about Hollywood because they are such an exciting departure from my actual life. This one focuses on a divorced couple of superstars who were cast in the same movie that's being filmed on a remote island in the Caribbean. As if that's not enough drama, a hurricane comes to spice things up! This sounds so dramatic and extravagant and I can't wait to read it!

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
I included this book because it takes place in lake town. In fact it reminded me a lot of the 1,000 Islands in upper New York State (if you are familiar). I pictured Alexandria Bay the whole time I read it. The story is focused on Josie and Lucky - a pair of best friends that were separated at 12 when Josie's mom abruptly moved them away. Josie and her mom came back to town to help run their family book shop for the Summer, and Josie and Lucky try to mend the space between them. There's a lot of drama and confusion about the past swirling around their newly patched up relationship, and while that's the story to be told here, I loved hanging out in the vibe of a town that's based around lake life. 

And a few backlist....

Backlist Summery Books Published Before 2021

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
So this is book one to the above's Anchored Hearts, but it doesn't seem like the series follows the same characters. Possibly just some crossover or maybe happening in the same area of Key West. This one involves a fake to real relationship, though, which is my favorite romance trope of all time! So, YES to this one, asap. Can't believe it's taken me so long!

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable
I fully intended to read this one last summer (and was told that the writing is incredible), but I never did get around to it. This is slightly apart from my usual tastes, and I just get the feeling that it's best enjoyed on a quiet patio on vacation or something. A book to be savored, ya know? This is a fictional story based on reality, about the affair between John F Kennedy and Alicia Corning Clark. Their marriage was forbidden by JFK's father, so Alicia went on to find happiness in Hollywood and Rome, rising in popularity and connections as she went. I don't know the actual history behind this story, but I think it sounds exciting and dramatic in all the ways one might imagine when dating someone prominent in politics. Also - some of the book is set in Hyannisport, and I've been there, so I'm excited about that little detail, too!

Well Met by Jen DeLuca
I read this one last Summer and really liked it! It's centered around a Renaissance fair, and while I have no experience or connection to those I've always thought the camaraderie and playfulness at them sounds like a lot of fun. It was fun to go along to the fair with Emily each day, and even more fun to watch her relationship with the faire's curmudgeon blossom. Their angsty, hate-to-love romance was my favorite part! If you want to feel like you're off to enjoy your summer at the faire, this is a great book for that!

A lot of other good ones come to mind, though, so if you still want more - check out some of my older posts on Summer books. 

2020: 19 Summer Books For the Mood Reader
2019: Summer Books I'm Excited About
2015: The Perfect Fun, Light Reads for Summer

Enjoy, and let me know if you find something you love!

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you! This means that if you click through any of them and make a purchase, I may make a small commission. It's teeny tiny, but every little bit helps support my blog and I am super grateful! I appreciate you! xo

Monday, May 24, 2021

Introducing: Journals! (+ a giveaway)

YAY, I published two journals! 

And whether that's news to you or you're visiting me from my intros on Instagram, I'm so excited to share allll the details about them with you!

Check out my new self-published journals!

A few months ago, I started thinking about how journaling really carried me through 2020. If you look at my Quarantine Chronicles tab, you can see some of the typed journal entries that I copied from what I called my quarantine notebook that I used to document how the pandemic looked and felt for my family. An afternoon cup of coffee, a notebook, and a pen did wonders for my mental health every day. 

I eventually ran out of room in my notebook and my journaling sprawled across multiple books. Being the Virgo & ex-scrapbooker that I am, I found myself wishing for one neat, easy space to record all the things about this crazy pandemic experience. You know, for posterity's sake. 

So I made it!

Quarantine Journal for documenting the pandemic

EEEEK! I'm so excited to share this. So, so pumped.

So look - I know not everyone wants to remember 2020 - let alone in organized detail. But I like the concept of recording history and this weird version of normal we've all lived through as we went through something globally monumentous. It's okay if you don't like that idea. I totally understand wanting to ban the past year from your psyche, and respect all the reasons you may want to do so.

But if you'd love to have somewhere to keep a record of all that weirdness, I've got just the thing for you!

Inside are prompts to help you think about what might be worth documenting. Some of the questions ask you to record things like, pandemic buzzwords, shows you binge watched, and items you couldn't find on store shelves. There's a whole range of questions - from the mundane to the deep stuff (with total and utter permission to skip over any of it that doesn't serve you!)

Journal Prompts for documenting 2020

The rest of the journal is filled with lots of blank space for you to write out your feelings, a day in the life during quarantine, or even a letter to your future self. Document whatever feels worth documenting!

And at the end, I left space for you to scribble in a few of your favorite quarantine recipes! These are things you might have tried out of boredom but ended up loving, or even the recipes you made again and again (like the ones that used up all those aging bananas). Maybe you didn't try any at all and you'd like to use this space to write in your recipe for sanity during such a wild time! ;)

Recipe space in a quarantine journal

Last spring, I started a collection of pandemic/quarantine items. There were things that came home from school, copies of recipes we tried, letters we got in the mail, and eventually some of the masks that my kids already managed to outgrow in a year! I am so excited to fill up this journal and add this to the collection! I know documenting something so awful and terrible is a little bit weird - but it's how I cope. I like the thought of looking back on all of this as reviewing a part of our family history. I never expected it to be a part of our story - but here we are.

IF you're looking for something not at all related to 2020 or the pandemic - I've got something for you, too.

While doing my research and practice for my quarantine journal, I figured out how to play around with some digital artwork. I know this doesn't hold a candle to what artists can pull off with a smart pen and a tablet, but I enjoyed figuring this out and coming up with this design that I named "Expansion."

Abstract painting blank journal

"Expansion" came together because of the process of learning, and is being used as a cover on a journal, with the hopes that its user is able to expand themselves because of the self-help and self-love they're engaging in as a result of journaling. I know not everyone will understand that significance, but I'm so overjoyed about putting this out into the world!

This journal is totally blank inside! You can use it however you'd like to use it. Air your grievances. Make your grocery lists. Write letters to people that you'll never send. Record all of your internet passwords so you stop forgetting them. Keep it on your nightstand and write out your dreams when you wake up. Anything goes!

Morning pages journaling

I happen to think she's gorgeous, and goes really well with a cup of coffee.

You can find all the details and links to my journals as well as my future journal projects HERE.
You can also click right on through to the Quarantine Journal HERE and the Blank Abstract Journal HERE

AND! You can win one! 

I'm hosting a giveaway over on my Instagram this week where I'll choose two winners - one for each journal. Find the giveaway HERE - but I'll give you a head start. Commenting on THIS post is a bonus entry, so you can do that now before you head over and save yourself a step! Good luck! xo

Friday, May 21, 2021

What's Your Reading Style?

What makes up your reading life?

Reading and stories have always been a part of me.

My mom used to tell me that even when I was very little, I'd disappear into my room and she'd find me there with a stack of books. There are pictures of it. I also still have vivid memories of sitting along the stone path at my Grandparents' house, plucking individual rocks from it and then telling elaborate stories about what item it used to be before a witch turned it into a stone. (The Wizard of Oz did a number on me.) I'd even make any available adult set up yard chairs to listen to me - like I was a one-child circus. I just loved stories....history, magic, excitement.

My reading habits dwindled for a little while. My childhood was good, but not without struggle, and I internalized SO much of my life (and, ya know, developed anxiety) and I'm not great with books when that happens. Mix in the pressures of school (the structure of which did not suit me), and I wanted nothing to do with "extra work". I remember a few series from that time, but it had stopped being a priority.

In High School, it was much of the same, but then I found a...wait for it....Buffy the Vampire Slayer series that was basically fanfic turned novels and I got heavily into those. Anything for more time with Angel.

In college, my friends and I were pretty innocent. We'd sometimes hop the border to Canada where the legal drinking age is 19 and have a hilarious night of arcade games after a few Mike's hard lemonades. But other nights, we'd swing by the grocery store and pick up smutty romance novels and take them to Denny's where we'd sit and eat french fries and oreo milkshakes until 3am - laughing about the hilarious ways they described uh, unmentionables. 

Eventually, a friend gave me a Nicholas Sparks novel to try, and I was off to the races.

(I had a whole moment with Nicholas Sparks. I've read all of his novels to date, stood in a ridiculously long line to get a picture with him, and even had him sign my DVD copy of The Notebook. He's not my bookish standard anymore but, once upon a time.)

In my early 20's, I was obsessed with getting reacquainted with libraries and shopping at quirky used book stores that always had a resident cat. I realized I wanted IN on cultural phenomenons like Harry Potter and Twilight. I found myself swept up in the joys of a beautiful cover and revisiting familiar characters through a series and waking up my brain in multiple ways by pairing books with my morning coffee. I even spent my earliest days as a brand new mom, endlessly reading books as my newborn slept beneath them in my lap. And since then, my love has only expanded.

But it's also evolved. Because reading is just something can never finish.

A couple months before the pandemic hit, Matt and I went out for a date night that inevitably lead us to getting Starbucks and roaming around Barnes & Noble. I was over the moon - just getting to wind myself up and down the aisles and linger on anything that caught my eye. And then I got sad.

Matt noticed and asked me what was up. I didn't know at first. I poked at this feeling and asked myself how I could possibly be feeling it in Barnes & Noble of all places, and then it dawned on me.

"I'm just, low-key sad that I'll never have time for all the books I want to read."

He responded in the most romantic way imaginable.

Matt: Don't worry, I think this is what we'll do when we retire.
Me: What is?
Matt: Reading a crap ton of books together. Building a private library.
Me: Promise?
Matt: Hell yeah.

Sigh, dream boat. But that's not the point.

The point is that on that day, I officially became choosey. My own version of a book snob. Not because I'm some experienced critic or literary genius. But because no matter how organized or diligent I get, new books are released every single week and I will never, ever, despite my best efforts, catch up.

I'm constantly trying to just read the books I have - but then all of these brilliant, hilarious, intelligent, incredible authors put out these gorgeous books that I cannot pass up. My reading plans change constantly.

And as I've gone from a 50 book/year reader to an 80 book/year reader to striving to be a 100 book/year reader - I may have increased my options, but not nearly as far as I'd like to while still, ya know, living my life. On the other hand, when you read that much, you start to feel a little bit like....wait, shouldn't I be reading more of the intellectual award winners and classics? It's hard not to feel like with that many books under your belt, people will expect that you've read everything that's well known. (Not that I care what "people" expect of me.)

But here's the truth for me.

I love books for what they teach me and challenge me to explore. But I also want most of them to make me feel a certain way. I want to revel in the good stuff. In the excitement of adventure and the satisfaction of new love. In the angst of coming of age. In the complexities of the human condition. In the absolute gorgeousness of the world. 

At the same time, I don't like hanging out in the dark side for long or being strung along in suspense simply for the sake of suspense. So while the new best selling thriller might have most readers rabid with enthusiasm, I don't feel like I have time to work something I don't love-love-love into my already overflowing reading agenda.

Which means that my reading style is basically made up of this.

A Crap Ton of Contemporary Romances
+ A Whole Bunch of YA Romances
+ A Big Heap of Spiritual and Self-Help that get it
+ A Smattering of Contemporary Fiction by my MVP authors
   (like Fredrik Backman and Taylor Jenkins Reid)
+ The occasional classic or cultural phenomenon
+ A pinch of pushing out of my usual tastes through BOTM picks
80-100 Books A Year

The bulk of what I run my eyeballs over is full of love and longing and the right brand of angst. I also start every morning by working through some sort of spiritual or self-help education to make sure that I'm always learning and growing and expanding. And then between it all, I get my bursts of the contemporary literary hype - while feeling zero guilt or regrets by telling the very popular thrillers and murder novels to take a hike. 

The librarian at my kids' elementary school is such a cool person to know. I had a conversation with her once about adults who like young adult and children's lit as much as their intended audience (a sentiment we both wholeheartedly subscribed to). She told me that when she had to choose a concentration and decide which type of librarian to be, she chose to work with literature geared towards young people because of the nature of their stories. She'd said something like, "Literature for adults is all murder and adultery and depression. Why would I want to make that my job?! Books for younger people are about magic and love and growth."

I would have made the same choice.

It really comes down to what we want to spend our time on when we get to indulge in books. What words are we drinking in? What feelings are we seeking? What lessons are we hoping to learn?

So what about you?
Have you gotten choosey with books? Do you get harsh with what makes the cut?
Are there types you don't bother with because there's just too many to read?

And do your picks make the cut because they make you feel a certain way? Or is it something else?

Monday, May 17, 2021

Last Minute Monday Pt. 3 - Change is Afoot

I haven't posted in a minute because my head's been in the clouds.

Things are one way or another. In many ways? Yes, probably that. I mean it literally with things I can actively witness and see, but also in just...a feeling. A shift. The numerology says this is a May thing....all those 5's. (2021 = 2+0+2+1 = 5) Whatever it is, my reality is changing. 

There's one possibility in particular that I'm not quite ready to share, and it's also weighing on me the most heavily. For the moment, anyway. We'll see.

Everyone loves a cryptic girl.

I mean, there's some good stuff. Our oldest son (who is 12, and immunocompromised) got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week. He did amazing. Said it didn't even hurt - and the kid hates needles. He had no side effects other than a sore arm, and he is thrilled to get his second one done so he can have a mostly normal Summer. Super pumped for him.

I'm getting a new phone this week. The purple iphone 12 - which is exciting, and also pointless because I will immediately cover it up with a phone case anyway. But I'm still thrilled. 

My in-laws sold their house and bought a new one super close to us. It's even closer to the middle school that our oldest attends, and that our middle guy will move up to in September. The town installed new crosswalks and lights not long ago, too, so they are super thrilled with the idea of walking to their Grandma's house together after school. Everyone's pretty excited about it.

We are nearing the end of the school year, which is a change I am desperate for. I am grateful for the quality time and lack of morning rush that virtual school has allowed us, but I am ready to not be the person in charge of making sure my kids' school days happen. And also to have some breathing room to get stuff done without 5 loud, messy people all jammed at home at all times. There's 26 days school days left, and they can't get over with fast enough.

I made some big "emerging into the public" moves this week. I know this will seem ridiculous to some, but because of our immunocompromised guy we've been so, so careful. So last week when I went to the library, Target, and a greenhouse, I felt like I'd been let out of prison or something. It felt like it always did, but with this added feeling I allowed to be doing this? So weird.

Speaking of the library, I've been loving flying through books again. Last week I read The House in the Cerulean Sea and Float Plan. Loved them both. This week I'm working on Chasing Lucky, A Special Place for Women, Sunkissed, and Clap When You Land. (This paragraph contains affiliate links - but only this one. More info at the end.)

So....yeah. There's more, but this is where I put my cryptic hat back on. My over-analyzing and writey brain desperately wants to say more, but shouldn't. Soon, I hope. In the meantime, if you could send those good-good vibes my way, I'd appreciate it. 

Have a gorge week. <3

Affiliate links in this post are no cost to you! If you click through them and make a purchase, though, I may make a tiny commission. These little amounts add up slowly, but they help me run my blog so I am super super grateful if you choose to click! Appreciate you!