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Random Musings

If I could trade places with someone for a day I think I'd pick Kate Middleton. Or maybe Pippa so I could hang out with Kate Middleton all day? I'm not crazy into the royals or anything, but it would be so interesting to have an inside look of how they live.

Which makes me think of one of my favorite cheesy movies-- Monte Carlo. You know the one with Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, and Juliet from Gossip Girl? One of the girls gets mistaken for a princess and they take advantage of living that lifestyle for a few days.

I've been watching the final episodes of Pretty Little Liars, and at first I thought the second half of the season was actually really good, but now I'm to the point where everyone is annoying and I just want to see how it all wraps up. I really have no idea or theory on who AD is, though if I had to pick someone I'd go with Ezra. The whole Spencer's twin theory kind of makes sense because of her weird scenes with Wren and Toby, but I feel like introducing another twin so late is kind of a copout?

I used to go blueberry picking when I was growing up, but I haven't been in years. This year I really wanted to go strawberry picking for the first time, but we ended up missing the peak dates, so we settled for blueberries (& cherries) instead. Which I do like, I just prefer to eat them in a pie.

One new to me fruit I've been obsessed with lately is plumcots! Which is a hybrid of a plum and a apricot, apparently there are also apriums, which are 75% apricot and only 25% plum-- which also sounds delicious. #themoreyouknow

Who would you switch places with for a day? Do you have a PLL theory?

Middleton Place | Charleston, South Carolina

middleton place, what to do in charleston,
In case you missed it, or are just happening along this post, I shared a recap of our trip to Charleston, but wanted to do a separate post on Middleton Place because it was such an incredible experience. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark-- it originated in 1741 and was expanded in the 19th & 20th centuries.

Carly Reads Here | June 2017

Happy Show Us Your Books Day! My reading picked up a bit thanks to all of my library books expiring at the same time. I'm currently trying out the suspend feature to hopefully help space them out a little bit better. Most of these are pretty long review blurbs because I had so much to say, and I usually like to share a little bit about the plot too.

The Round House | In an attempt to read more diversely this year, I really wanted to read more Native American fiction and Erdrich continually came up as a recommendation, plus The Birchbark House was one of my favorites when I was younger. The Round House is a coming of age story narrated by 13-year-old Joe, who is propelled into adulthood when his mom is violently attacked and his life is suddenly completely different. I really can't articulate my feelings for this book-- it was one of those books that felt so long and took me forever to read, but once I got to the end I wasn't really ready for it to be over. The writing style wasn't my favorite, as sometimes single paragraphs spanned pages, but I felt so much emotion for the characters in this story-- especially Joe and the inner-conflicts he was facing.

Into the Water | I started this right after finishing The Round House, which was a nice transition because the chapters in that book were like 50+ pages, and this book has chapters just a few pages each. I thought I would get through this in a day or two, but it ended up taking me almost 3 weeks, which probably took away from some of the momentum of the story. I actually paused before starting part 2, so I could read the below two books before they had to go back to the library.

My initial thoughts were that there were so many characters-- I think there were 6 different POVs in the first 40 pages! Basically it's a thriller about a young girl and a woman who drown in the same spot a few months apart. The woman's daughter was best friends with the girl who drowned, so you don't know if that's a connection or coincidence. The characters were developed really well, and I enjoy Hawkins' writing, but the story itself reminded me of something I'd read before. While this is totally different from The Girl on the Train, and I think that book was more suspenseful or thrilling, I'd say I liked them both equally.

Beartown | I really enjoyed Ove, but I liked this so much more. Backman's writing feels so effortless and you just fall into the story and the characters. It's about a small town on an economic decline, and hockey is the thing that keeps most people motivated that the town could have a comeback, until something tragic happens that tears the town apart. There's a lot of talk about hockey in the book, but this is not a book about hockey. Hockey is literally my least favorite sport, but I could not have loved this book more, so don't let that deter you if you're also not a hockey fan. I'm a pretty big believer in (most of the time) knowing if I'll love a book from the first sentence, and this was one of the best/most intriguing opening lines I can remember.
Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there. 
There were dozens of other parts I loved just as much, and I really can't remember the last time I loved a book as much as I loved Beartown.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions | This was the first book I've read by Adichie, and I'm not sure why I started with this one instead of We Should All Be Feminists, but this was so enjoyable and empowering to read. She's writing a letter to a friend who asked her for suggestions on how to raise her daughter to be a feminist, so it's incredibly relatable, and feels like she's talking directly to you. I think the book is only around 50 pages, and I think there's something for everyone to learn by reading it.

Burntown | I somehow ended up reading The Winter People a couple of years ago, not realizing it had supernatural elements in it, but I ended up liking it so much that when I saw the author had a new book coming out I was intrigued. Burntown really grabs you in the first few chapters with the writing style, as a boy witnesses his mother's murder. The story moves on to being told from the generation of the boy's daughter, who went from having a happy 'normal' life to being a misfit living in the woods with other runaways and mysterious individuals-- which is when the supernatural bits start to come into play. I definitely had a few moments where I had to stop reading for a few seconds because I was scared-- like when you're watching a scary movie and you have to cover your eyes.

I really don't like scary books (or movies), nor am I crazy about the supernatural genre, but that doesn't overwhelm the book. At not quite 300 pages, I think this is worth a read, though it might be more appreciated in the fall for something spooky.

show us your books, book bloggers, what to read next

Overall I'd recommend any of these books, though Beartown is my definite favorite of the bunch (and a favorite of the year). Head over to the SUYB linkup to see what other bloggers have been reading lately.

TRAVEL: Charleston, SC

visit charleston, where to eat in charleston, charleston guide,
Charleston is one of those cities that seems to have it all-- charm, beautiful architecture, great food, and so much history. My husband had a work training and I was lucky enough to tag along. This was my fourth time in Charleston, but first time spending an extended period of time in the city-- in the past I'd been for a day when visiting Hilton Head or Isle of Palms, so I was excited to see more of the city (really eat more of the food). I came down with an unfortunate case of shingles before our trip, so that put a little bit of a damper on things, but what would life be without trials and tribulations?

Exciting Book Releases | Summer 2017

summer 2017 book releases; best books of summer 2017; new books 2017
Mid-May means summer is right around the corner, even though that's hard to believe because it has been unseasonably cold. While I tend to be a mood reader more than a seasonal reader, there are so many books coming out this summer that I can't wait to read. These are all books by authors I've read before and really loved.

Carly Reads Here | May 2017

I've really been jumping from genre to genre this year, which I guess shouldn't be too surprising since my top books from last year were all so drastically different. Each month I tell myself I'm going to do shorter review snippets since I've been reading more books per post, but that never seems to happen. Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books.

In The Woods | After seeing Tana French's books everywhere, this was definitely one of my most anticipated books to read this year. The story follows a detective on the Dublin murder squad investigating the murder of a young girl in a small town-- the crime might be related to two missing children from 20 years earlier. This took me a few tries to get into, and it was definitely a slower read for me, but once I got into it I was hooked! The writing was really strong and engaging, and the story kept you interested until the very end. I'm so excited to read the next book, especially since it switches to a new narrator.

All Grown Up | I meant to read this back when I did my post about new releases, but the hold list took forever despite it being a really quick read. While I believe this is considered a novel, it read more as a series of short stories, or vignettes-- not in any chronological order. The narrator, Andrea, is a 39/40 year-old, who goes against the norm of getting married and having kids, and her struggle to find connection. The writing was sharp and humorous at times, but I found it to have more of a sad undertone and it wasn't very memorable for me. I enjoyed it more for the writing than the content, but I always welcome a New York City setting.

The View From Penthouse B | I was so excited to read my second Elinor Lipman novel after how much I loved the first one, and this one gave me the same blissful feeling while reading! It's about two sisters who live together in a penthouse in the West Village after they both unexpectedly lose their husbands (one dies; one goes to prison). It's comical yet heartfelt and just an all-around really fun read with another great group of minor characters.

The Hate U Give | Thomas' book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, telling the story through YA fiction and has received crazy (& much deserved) hype since it was released in February. It's told from Starr's point of view after she witnesses a friend get shot by the police-- and is really just an honest and raw view at race relations in America today. There was a lot of dialogue, but it wasn't filler fluff dialogue, it was meaningful to the story and the characters. It was captivating and chilling-- definitely a book I'll be thinking about for a long time and still think about.

What have you read recently?

Carly Reads Here | April 2017

Six books, six different genres. I definitely have a pretty eclectic mix of books this month, including a couple that I really loved. I'll skip the long intro because my review blurbs always tend to be lengthy, but linking up for Show Us Your Books- stop by and share what you've been reading recently.

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