Lately: Books I’ve Read

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update of the books I’ve read. Like, a WHILE.

As y’all know, I love to read and can pretty much devour any book that’s put in front of me…well, maybe except like Mein Kampf, or War and Peace. But that’s neither here nor there.

Here is what I’ve read as of late:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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For awhile, I was on a kick of WW2 historical fiction which is what drew me to this book. I REALLY liked this one. The author goes between two different stories that end up weaving together. Both of the main characters begin as children and both of their stores are so fascinating. I highly recommend this book if you are into historical fiction!

Life from Scratch by Melissa Ford

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I read this because I think it was $5.99 on my Kindle and I wanted something totally mindless. I also tend to love books about food or cooking (go fig). This was kindof a romantic-comedy in book form and focused on a divorcee (another reason it resonated with me) who blogs about cooking. It was a fun, easy read.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

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I love books set in the 20’s! This one is about a woman who chaperones a young actress/dancer from her hometown for the summer. It isn’t the most thrilling book of all time, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and especially loved the time period.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Obviously I read this. The SECOND that movie preview came out, I knew I wanted to read the book. Similar to Gone Girl, this book was thrilling and sexy (ooooh sexy) and scary. The main character was definitely someone you feel sorry for and honestly I think Emily Blunt was a bit too regal to play her in the movie. Much to my chagrin, I have not yet seen the movie! But I will. Anyway, if you want a seriously engulfing book that will keep your attention all the way through, read this!

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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I found this book on the Barnes & Noble site after researching “books similar to Girl on the Train”. Haha I am so predictable. Anyway, this was NOTHING like Girl on the Train. It was much more slow-moving and the timeline went backwards. At first I kindof hated that it was working backwards but then I grew to like it. I ended up finding it pretty good…not great.

Summer Readin’

Howdy y’all.

I’ve been watching a new Lifetime show , Kim of Queens and I am currently doling out y’alls like a southern belle. Apologies for that :).

Last night I finished yet another book and realized I haven’t kept my lovely bloggies abreast of any of my summer reads! THE HORROR. So, in true fourth-grader fashion, here’s what I read this summer.

50 Shades Darker by E.L James

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I’m not really that ashamed to admit I read the entire 50 Shades Trilogy. For whatever reason, I had to find out what happened with Miss Steele and Christian. It also helped that I found them all at Goodwill for $2 – because – let’s be real – nobody wants to be seen buying these at Barnes & Noble (although, I probably would have).

50 Shades Freed by E.L James

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I can sum up this trilogy, if we’re calling it that in ONE word: sex. There is really not much more to these books than that. I suppose one could call them educational in a way? Whatever. And yes, I am seeing the movie.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

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Oh, Philippa. How I love your writing. I think I may have enjoyed this book even more than The Other Boleyn Girl AND The Favored Child. This book focused on two of Henry VIII’s lesser known wives, Anne of Cleves and little Katherine (Kitty) Howard. After his subsequent marriages to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour (both dead), Henry decided to wed Anne of Cleves to form an alliance with her country and family. But girlfriend was prude and Henry wasn’t having it. He got rid of Anne so that he could marry the young Katherine Howard (who was young enough to be his grand daughter) but this relationship quickly crumbled and Katherine ended up on the chopping block too.

Unlike The Other Boleyn Girl, I liked seeing the older, grosser version of Henry VIII. He was waaay past his prime, with a rotten leg and a horrible disposition, but the women and men of court continued to throw themselves at him, showering him with compliments and praise. He had no idea that he was this putrid, sorry excuse for a human being because nobody would dare tell him so.

Just, fascinating!

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

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I touched on this book in an earlier post, but never described how much I loved it. Have you ever read something that you loved so much, that you read each page twice simply because you didn’t want it to end? THAT, my friends, is how I felt about The Paris Wife.

Basically, this book is about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, their life in Paris and their inevitable separation. First of all, this book made me want to read everything by Hemingway (or Hem, as I refer to him now). Although this book is technically fiction, the author brings Ernest completely to life through Hadley, and highlights his point of view in a very interesting and poignant way.

Hadley is just awesome. She’s awesome. She is smart, practical yet also fun, and incredibly perceptive. She has a deep, true love for Ernest throughout the entirety of the book, despite his alcoholism, fighting and crazy antics. She loves him even when his wandering eye gets the best of them both. She lets him go and it is sad, so sad. But it’s also wonderful, in a way. I just fell in love with both these people and can’t wait to discover more.

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

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This book I plucked from the shelves of the “library” (i.e four rickety shelves of books) at our remote honeymoon resort in Lovina, Bali. I was desperate and there were probably 10 titles all together written in English.

I do lurve a good mystery every now and then, though. I have to admit I kept thinking of that episode of The Office where Phyllis tries to get Sue Grafton to be in Dunder Mifflin’s commercial and she comes back all distraught. teehee. This book was exactly what you’d expect from a hugely successful mystery writer. What I found to be most interesting is how she describes literally EVERYTHING happening. Pick up any Grafton and I’m sure you’ll notice this too.

Overall, it was enjoyable! A great, mindless read for the pool and on the plane.

Marie Antoinette, The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever

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Not sure if any of y’all remember, but a few years ago I went to Paris with my family and we spent a day at Versailles!! My Mom, sister and Dad were all pooped from touring the palace and didn’t have the energy to go out into the gardens and meadows by the Petit Trianon, so I went by m’self. It was honestly, the SINGLE most amazing thing I’ve ever done – and I think the reason why I loved it so much was that I was all alone, with only my thoughts. I even scampered off the designated “pathways” and frolicked (YES) in the meadows as I’m sure Marie Antoinette and her daughter, Maria Therese had done 300 years ago!

Tangent, sorry! Needless to say, I have ALWAYS been obsessed with Versailles, Louis, Marie Antoinette, macarons and petticoats. I decided to read this book no matter how boring it got, and yeah, it DID get boring. But I also learned SO much. Like how everyone at court was in the room when Marie Antoinette gave birth to her daughter, so that everyone knew she actually had it and it was hers. Like, WOW – how awful would that be?

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

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Ok, SO. This book is simply amazing. I would recommend this one to anyone – any walk of life, age, sex, whatever, it is that good. Also, sidenote: the author lives in SPOKANE. Like, who knew that kind of talent could come out of Spokane, WA? Crazy. The plot is very tricky to explain but it reminds me a little of Love Actually. Where there’s a bunch of different little stories that all somehow weave together, although these stories stretch back some forty years, which gives them a depth you will have to read to believe.

And that’s it for me! What should I read next?? Let me know in the comments!

What I’m Reading

Hiya!

If you are looking for some amazing reads, look no further. I have hit the goldmine over the past couple of months.

1. The Time in Between: A Novel by Maria Duenas

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I plucked this book from the shelves of the Costco in Maui purely for it’s size. You see, I had forgotten my literature at home and needed something to fuel me through a 9 day vacation. At 600+ pages it certainly tips the scales but for darn good reason. This book proved to me that sometimes it is good to just dive right in, knowing absolutely nothing about the story or the author. The plot captured my attention within the first 30 pages and I found myself just aching for the heroine. I appreciated the historical nods, twists in the plot and naturally, the subject matter (she works as a couturier, OMG). A book of this weight could have been just that – dead weight. I was glad that it was not.

2. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

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After that 600 pager, I was in the mood for something a bit, shall I say, smaller? This book was actually at the condo we rented in Maui and I recognized the title. Botta bing botta boom. I really enjoyed this book. It takes you through time, telling the story of a Vermeer painting as it passes along from owner to owner. It was a quick, sweet read and made me want to buy art.

3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

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This one is kind of a gut-wrencher. I seriously cried like three times. But I am getting ahead of myself. I chose this book because 1.) I had heard the title 2.) I like the title 3.) It takes place in SEATTLE. In this book, two childhood friends face the world together given tumultuous adversity and then are forced to separate. In the beginning, the story takes place in the 1940’s during WWII. The author takes us back and fourth from then, to the late 80’s. The main character is Chinese and the heroine, Japanese (a big no-no in 1940 in parts of Seattle). In the beginning I felt a slight Romeo + Juliet kind of thing happening as the two begin to develop real feelings for one another. They even sneak out to see a jazz concert together – gah! How I loved this book. I’ll stop talking now.

2. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L James

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I caved. #whatcanisay?

3. The Favored Child by Philippa Gregory

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I really love this author, most notably for The Other Boleyn Girl. Nan gave me this one and although I have just begun this book and I can already tell I will love it. Phillipa, you kill it every time.

What are you reading?

2013 Fall Reads

Yo yo yo internet “Finer Things Club” members!

Only 3 books have weaseled themselves into my hands over the past couple of months and frankly, I feel quite lazy.

I blame Netflix.

Here they are!

1. Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

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I am actually very surprised I haven’t read all of this author’s books. I mean, the covers are shades of pastels. The names are cute. Where have I been?My sister lent me “Something Borrowed” (haha) when I was in Kennewick for her wedding. Very appropriate. So basically, the main character has an affair with her best friend’s fiance. Part of me wanted to slam it down or throw it in the trash.  I was disgusted at the behavior of these two individuals, sneaking around and lying for their own mutual satisfaction. I felt for the best friend, despite the author’s attempts to make me hate her. However, like most things that come in baby-pink packaging, everything turned out okay. Apparently it is a movie too? Again – where have I been?!

2. The Midewife of Venice by Roberta Rich

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Oooh, I luuurved this book. I read it in 3 sessions, over the course of probably 5 days. All I wanted to do was read this book. I thought about while pedaling nowhere on the elliptical. I had dreams about it. I found myself talking about it to the checker at Safeway. This book is set in Venice during the sixteenth century and follows a young Jewish mid-wife named Hannah. She is the best of her trade in all of Venice, but her faith only allows her to deliver other Jewish babies. Her husband is a prisoner in a foreign land and in order to pay his bail, she agrees to deliver the baby of a Christian noble-man’s wife. Each page builds in suspense and the every chapter quickly crescendos into the ultimate cliff hanger. Each more dramatic than the previous. My only wish would be that this book had a sequel.

3. French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

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I really enjoyed this cheeky little book about Paris and love. The book is split up in sections and focuses on the relationships of three french tutors and their pupils for the day. The characters are interesting and the dialogue is witty. Relationships. Sex. Affairs of the heart. (MUST LEARN FRENCH!)

So that’s it. Bryan and I leave for Hawaii in less than 48 hours where I will voraciously read on the beach in between sips of daiquiri 🙂

‘Til then.

2013 Summer Reads

Sup Nerds!

Although my reading has slowed these summer months, the selections I’ve made continue to sparkle. Whether I’m at the lake, or turned awkwardly sideways in bed with my headlamp on (so Bry can sleep) I have thoroughly enjoyed all that my eyes have consumed.

Oh, and after my recent visit to the eye doctor I’ve learned I have developed astigmatism! Three cheers for gettin old!

Here’s the lineup:

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This book is easily my favorite of the year so far. Hilarity ensues throughout the entirety of this brilliant novel, made even better (for me) by the fact that it takes place in Seattle. It is written from all different points of view and contexts, letters, emails, even news articles. And the dialogue? Bernadette’s inner voice and bazaar idiosyncrasies mixed with the contemplations of those surrounding her make for one heck of a good time as we glimpse into life of a woman stricken with social anxiety, married to a Microsoft guru and treading the waters of Seattle’s elite private schools for her brainiac daughter.

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Switching gears (get it? the bike!) to this novel written by the author of the famous, “French Women Don’t Get Fat” I discovered yet again, that french women must have it all figured out. Not one for diet books of any kind, I dove into this not really knowing what to expect. And to be honest, I didn’t learn anything new. Eat seasonally and locally. Sip wine very slowly. Walk everywhere. Quality over quantity people! Really? Yep – pretty sure I already knew all that. I did learn more about the “leek soup diet” which french women supposedly do 2-3 times per month. Leeks are boiled in water for a couple hours and the broth is consumed, and only the broth, for a day or two.

I much prefer the candy corn diet via Romy and Michele.

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In keeping with the français theme, “Almost French” tells the story of a young Australian woman who decides to visit a Frenchmen she met on travel in Paris. She stays a week, a month, a year and ends up living there full-time, experiencing all things Parisian. I really enjoyed this book if not for the beautiful depictions of  the city, than the relationship between her and Frederic and trying to make it as a “intercultural” couple. I learned heaps about Paris, French culture and the pride of the people of France. I plan to return to Paris and put my new found knowledge to good use, not being overly friendly to waiters, sipping my wine slowly and abstaining from speaking to fill awkward silences.

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I mentioned reading this book whilst on holiday at Lake Chelan, remember? This clever novel is told through letters written by various characters through out the entire book. It starts just after WW2 and gives a vivid glimpse of the lives of the Guernsey Islanders during the German Occupation.  A sucker for good WW2 lit, this novel pulled me in from page 1, like a proverbial moth to the flame.

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I am reading this currently and so far, so good. The cover is nice, and like any honest and avid reader – I definitely judge books by their covers :).

Let’s Talk About Books, Baby

Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good times and the bad times that will be.

Are those the lyrics? I warn you, I’m notorious for  making up my own words and completely disregarding what lyrically makes sense. So sue me. Or don’t, because I’d rather spend my money on items at Norstrom Rack.

It’s time for…ba-ba-dah-dah…….!!!!

A book update.  So for anyone who is still reading, let’s dish.

  1. Hotel Pastis by Peter Mayle

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I must preface all of these mini-reviews by thanking Bryan’s parents, particularly Mary for lending and recommending several of these to me.  A million thanks!

Why this book isn’t a movie yet, I don’t know. Oh yes, we’re too busy watching Kristin Stewart making the same pathetic face throughout the Twighlight movies…I must have forgotten.  This book tells the story of a man who opens up  a hotel in Provence.  It’s romantic, funny and I’m sure the locals of Provence hate Mr. Mayle for turning their beloved town into a major tourist destination and frequent haunt for thousands of Rick Steves fans.

2. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

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Another Mary Nash suggestion. I absolutely adored this book and was genuinely sad when it was over.   The story follows a newbie New-York Times food editor through her first restaurant experiences.  What made this book so much fun was that in order to fool the restaurants into not recognizing her, she wears disguises and takes on different personalities.  She pretends to be everything from an old woman to an eccentric artist to a hot blonde.  If that doesn’t reel you in, surely the descriptions of the meals will.  She reviews Daniel, Le Bernadin and many others that I have only dreamed of dining at.  I highly recommend this one, especially to foodies and will probably read it again and again.

3. Chez Panisse and Alice Waters by Thomas McNamee

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In keeping with the theme of gastro-delight literature, of course I had to read this book.  ‘Twas another jewel which I happily plucked from the shelves of the Nash library.  I have actually eaten at Chez Panisse once, while on a business trip to San Francisco. Although it was lunch and I only had a salad, it was something I’ll never forget.  Chez Panisse is an institution, not only in SF but world-wide and Alice Waters is the person behind the magic.  I am eager to return to Chez Panisse now that I feel I know it so intimately.  I assume this book will do the same to anyone who reads it.

4. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

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I think I’ve now read all of her novels by now.  This one wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, however in congruence with all of her books, it was a gut-wrencher.  A boy and girl fall in love who are next door neighbors. They make a pact to kill themselves one night, however only the girl goes through with it.  So yeah, you can imagine how this book caused my gut be wrenched.

5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Gone Girl was one that Mary gave me to read because her book group had read it.  I found it completely thrilling and despite the crazy nature of the story, I found myself sympathizing with the characters from time to time. After about Chapter One, just stop what you’re doing because you won’t be able to put this down.

6. Kris Jenner and All Things Kardashian by Kris Jenner

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This was a cast-off  destined for Goodwill, when I regretfully pulled it from the bag.  I blame it on being un-employed at the time.

Ahh…Kris Jenner.   I laughed out loud many times through this book.  Sometimes at the heinous writing, or references to her daughters being “smart” or at any number of the times where she unsuccessfully begs  the reader to sympathize with her when she was dripping in diamonds and playing tennis.  Boo hoo, Kris. If I am being harsh, good.  The only salvageable morsel of usefulness came from learning more about the OJ Simpson trial.  Despite those moments, this book would be better served as kindling.

7.  My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

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In my book (which is worth a read), this Picoult novel rates up there with Nineteen Minutes and A Plain Truth.   That being said, this book is beyond sad. It is totally heartbreaking.  If you’ve recently been dumped or your gerbil has passed away, please don’t pick up this book.  On the other hand, if you want to read a book with amazing characters and a thought-provoking story line on so many levels, than this book is perfect.  I can’t bring myself to watch the movie because I don’t feel like crying that hard all over again. ‘Nuff said.

8. Open House by Elizabeth Berg

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This was another Mary cast-off and the first time I have tried this author.  I found the book to be somewhat slow moving but not terrible.  It is about a woman who is recently divorced with a son and a stack of bills due to her excessive retail-therapy.  I did enjoy the part where she goes to Tiffany’s and drops thousands of dollars on china, I will say.  She  decides to rent out rooms in her house to supplement the mortgage and thus, different characters are introduced.  She gets involved with a new guy, blah blah blah.  This one was just aight for me dog (shoutout to Randy) but I may try something else from this author.

9. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

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I had been searching for this book for months at thrift stores,  so I was extremely stoked when my mom scored this at Goodwill.  It’s fairly new and I was beyond excited to read it as I am passionate about the subject-matter.  This book deals with gay rights issues and it also looks at Christianity.  I don’t want to get all political on y’asses but I feel this book (as J.Picoult has a knack for doing) shows both sides of a hot topic very well.  Even though I fall very much on one side of these particular issues, I was impressed with the manner in which they were presented.  Bravo, Jodes.

10. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

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Another gut-wrencher here. We face a situation involving  medical ethics when a couple have to decide if they can bring a medical malpractice lawsuit on their best friend who delivered their baby.  The baby was born with a disease which makes her bones super-brittle and break at not much more than a drop of a hat.  Even though they love their kid, they struggle with finances and wonder what may have happened if they knew about her condition before she was born.  Another sad, but very compelling book which made think about the choice that I would make.

11. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

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The topic here is religion and one of my favorites…the death penalty.  *I meant to say the topic of the death penalty, not the death penalty itself, you get it.  Basically a convicted criminal wants to donate his heart to his victim’s sister after he gets lethal injection but he can’t because it’s medically impossible.  Dah-Dah-DAHN!! Your average, everyday dilemma obviously.  This one was really thrilling and given my affinity for serial killers, a fast and interesting read.

12. Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

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I won’t lie, this is probably my least favorite Picoult novel.  True to form, Ms. Picoult thrills us and educates us.  Honestly, I think I just really hated the main character’s movie-star husband.  He was a tool.  And anyways, she was an archaeologist – what was she doing with a Hollywood d-bag anyway? So basically, she runs away from him to live on an Indian reservation.  Oh yeah, and she is pregnant. I think I just felt so bad for her that it made the book less enjoyable.  I encourage someone I know to read this and help me rationalize my feelings.

13. Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain

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I really like this author.  I think this is the 3rd book I’ve read by her and she is amazing.  This book felt more like a mystery novel than anything but the characters were so amazing and the story, unpredictable.  A woman is searching for answers…her husband kills himself and her young daughter has gone completely mute.  I kind of want to read it again, now that I’m writing about it.  It is that good!

14. Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

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This book is literally about wolves.  When I saw the cover I thought the wolf thing must be an allegory, or an analogy or whatever the heck that word is, for something else.  Surely, Jodes is referring to the nomadic nature of our protagonist or maybe his deep, acrimonious thoughts.  Not the case. While there is a storyline accompanying the wolf stuff, it’s basically a lot of wolf stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book thoroughly.  I guess I also deepened my canine knowledge as well. Never a bad thing.

15. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Holy David Copperfield, I loved this book! I picked this up whilst shopping at Costco in Hawaii.  I realized that I hadn’t brought anything to read (the horror) and per Mary’s suggestion, picked this up.  I’m glad I did.  Not usually a sucker for sci-fi or fantasy, this book could have been a huge disaster.  It was quite the opposite for me.  The author combines a compelling storyline of two star-crossed illusionists who are pitted against each other, yet fall in love.  This book captures all the senses.  Appealing to my Moulin Rouge-loving, carnival food-eating self, the author struck a chord with vivid descriptions and a tantalizing love story.  Just read it. You’ll be glad you did.

16. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

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I received this one courtesy of my mother, who thoughtfully tucked it in my Christmas stocking.  She fell victim to it’s pretty cover at Costco as many people do.  I’m actually reading this right now and it’s aight.  It’s reminiscent of Downton, which is favorable I guess.  More than anything it makes me pine for more episodes.  I suppose it’s interesting to read about the differences between the English and Americans during those times.  What I’ve learned so far? Not much has changed.

I am forgetting a few other books that may have slipped through the cracks, but I have a feeling you will forgive me. As always, let me know if I’m missing anything great.  I devour books much like I devour fro-yo, voraciously.

When the Cat is Away…

The mouse will buy Sally Hanson Nail strips.

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They're Sparkly Pink

And will will drink copious amounts of coffee laced with this deliciousness.

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Artificial and Awesome

Bry is out skiing the Ellingwood Coulior today. He woke up at 3 a.m this morning and will return around 7 pm tonight.

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Bam

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So far I’ve:

  • Gone to the gym, and subsequently took over the mayorship of JH Health & Fitness on Foursquare (sorry Rick T.).
  • Showered off m’glitter, had oats and watched Cupcake Wars.
  • Hit up Albertsons for said nail strips.
  • Visited Yippee I-O on the square for fabulous Valentine’s candy to adorn red velvs I plan to make Monday night.
  • Swung by Browse n’ Buy (our only decent thrift store in Jackson) to look for books. I scored a Jodi Picoult, Plain Truth (clearly I’m obsessed) and a Diane Chamerblainm novel  called The Midwive’s Confession. Both for $2. Yee yee!

Now that I’m home it’s gonna be nothing but nail strips, experimental makeup application, Dance Moms on Hulu and some  vodka + Crystal Lights. Whoa, 4:30 – I’d better skeddadle!

Have a great weekend cookies!